So, I've always been curious. And seeing how I would like to get some oneshots down on paper in sequential form, I've been experimenting around with paneling out the sequence of events for what I need....
The only problem is.... it's difficult. Learning how to create an easy flow through the page without cramming too much or too little into it is a real problem for me. So I'm curious--since I've searched the site and found nothing on this specifically (unless I'm looking in totally the wrong areas)... My question is this:
Does anyone know of any sites that may give some tips on what to keep in mind when beginning to lay out your page? Any helpful insights to flow and general rules of thumb when it comes to sequential?
Haha yeah I tried to do a search but "comics" and "panels" included seem to give me a hundred thousand threads--I went through a few pages, though nothing seemed specific enough to what I was looking for.
One thing I find makes the process go smoothly is thumbnailing all the pages before I draw anything. I do tiny sketches of each page, roughing out the layout of the panels on the page and the layout of the content in each panel all at once. I also jot down the dialogue for each panel on the side of my thumbnails so I know what goes where. (This helps me gauge whether I'm cramming too much dialogue on a page.)
This helps me figure out flow before I get too involved in the drawing process, and because I'm just doing tiny roughs, I can try out alternative layouts quickly. Plus I can see how many pages I'll end up with, and make edits if I need to cut or add pages.
Basically you want to get a good grasp of the whole page early in the process. Or better yet, the whole sequence of pages.
Page layouts are a pain in a butt, and there's many ways to go by it, depending on your style.
The links posted above are probably helpful but I have to mention this... One time I went to this NY Comic Con Class/Panel, with people talking about using digital programs for comics and such. There was this one guy (I'm god-awful with names) who was using Flash to draw each panel, but he would draw them using the brush tool in separate documents, and then later add them to a single page, cropping/stretching them to his liking. Since he was using vector-based graphics, in Flash, scaling/shrinking them wouldn't cause the images to pixelate. I thought that was an interesting technique. He wasn't using many colors though, it was mostly b&w with some red, similar to Frank Millar's Sin City.
If you're going a more traditional route, just keep in mind the rule of third's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds). I notice whenever I use 3 panels in a row, things get pretty tight. I've only seen Watchmen using 4 panels in a row, like twice, out of the whole book, and it was only done because it was fitting... It's pretty hard to break this rule. Use bigger panels for large shots, smaller panels work best for quick/simple moments.
I'm still having some trouble with layouts, but it should get better with practice. From my personal experience, at least, I recommend playing around with thumbnails after you're done with the script.
A lot of good advice already, but I will add something that helped me a lot early on. Pull out some of your favorite comics, and do rough sketches of how the pages are laid out. You're looking for things like how many panels the artist uses per page, how they play with scale and camera angle, how they create movement and convey emotion. By redrawing it yourself (just very quick and rough, not copying the details or drawing style), you will absorb some of the storytelling style and technique of that artist, and as you do this with different artists it will help you develop your own instincts. Then, as Gwen says, thumbnail your own pages and play around with different ways of showing the same sequence.
Thanks everyone who responded some more! Checking out these new links; everything has been a great help so far in really increasing my understanding of just general rules and guidelines for paneling. Thanks to mickey too, since thats exactly my biggest issue is how many per page--how to get that angle and flow and scale, when to use it.
For some reason my thumbnails always look better in concept than the actual execution; Ill have to read over these very thoroughly and give it another go.
"Everything must serve the idea. The means used to convey the idea should be the simplest and clear. Just what is required. No extra images. To me this is a universal principle of art. Saying as much as possible with a minimum of means."
Any books by Will Eisner are a good read, as well. Mickey's advice is great-- pull apart all the comics you read and like, and figure out why you like them and what about them works (and even what doesn't). That's been the most helpful to me, and while I'm no expert by a long shot, the more I scrutinize the work I love and understand it the better and more confident I feel in my layout choices.
There is, of course, no substitute for simple practice, also.