What makes a good panel layout?

by Matthew Russell - Posted 10 months ago


Welcome my CryptoComics Compatriots. Today we are going to answer the age-old question: What makes a good panel layout? Since the neanderthals were drawing on the walls in caves, they have been asking themselves this question. Well, today we are going to answer it.


A panel layout is the arrangement of panels on a comic book page. A good panel layout can help to guide the reader's eye, emphasize important elements, and create a sense of flow and progression. Here are some factors that can contribute to a good panel layout:


  • Balance: A balanced panel layout creates a sense of harmony and stability, with panels evenly distributed across the page.

  • Proximity: Placing panels close together can create a sense of proximity and intimacy, while placing them farther apart can create a sense of distance and separation.

  • Symmetry: A symmetrical panel layout creates a sense of order and stability, with panels mirrored across a central axis.

  • Variety: Using a variety of panel shapes and sizes can add interest and visual variety to the page.

  • Flow: A panel layout that guides the reader's eye smoothly from one panel to the next can create a sense of flow and progression.

  • Emphasis: Placing important elements in larger panels or at the center of the page can help to emphasize them and draw the reader's attention.

BALANCE

balance refers to the way that panels are arranged on a comic book page, with the goal of creating a sense of harmony and stability. There are several ways to achieve balance in a panel layout, including symmetrical balance, asymmetrical balance, and radial balance.


Symmetrical balance is achieved when panels are mirrored across a central axis, creating a sense of order and stability. This type of balance is often used to convey a sense of formality or dignity, and it is well-suited to scenes that are static or formal in nature.


Asymmetrical balance is achieved when panels are arranged in such a way that they create a sense of balance, even though they are not mirrored across a central axis. This type of balance can be more dynamic and interesting, and it is well-suited to scenes that are more action-oriented or dynamic.


Radial balance is achieved when panels are arranged around a central point, creating a sense of movement and dynamism. This type of balance is often used to convey a sense of action or movement, and it is well-suited to scenes that are centered around a central event or character.

VARIETY

One way to add variety to your comic panels is to use a variety of panel shapes and sizes. Instead of using only rectangular panels, you can experiment with using circular, oval, triangular, or other shaped panels to add visual interest and break up the monotony. You can also use a combination of different-sized panels, with some larger panels used to emphasize important elements and smaller panels used to create a sense of intimacy or detail.


Another way to add variety to your panel layout is to vary the layout of the panels on the page. Instead of using a grid-like layout with all of the panels the same size and shape, you can try using a more dynamic layout with panels arranged in different ways on the page. This can create a sense of movement and flow and can help to guide the reader's eye from one panel to the next.


You can also add variety by using different panel borders and background colors. Using different colors and styles of panel borders can help to differentiate between different scenes or storylines, and can add visual interest to the page. Similarly, using different background colors or patterns can help to create a sense of atmosphere or mood, and can help to differentiate between different locations or times.


Overall, adding variety to your comic panels can help to make your comic more visually interesting and engaging for the reader. Experimenting with different panel shapes, sizes, layouts, borders, and backgrounds can help you to find the right balance for your story and style.

FLOW 

There are several ways to maximize the flow of your comic panels:


  • Use panel transitions: Panel transitions are techniques that help to guide the reader's eye from one panel to the next. Examples of panel transitions include using arrow shapes to direct the reader's gaze, using a character's gaze or body language to suggest the direction of the next panel, and using continuity of action or setting to link panels together.


  • Use consistent panel sizes and shapes: Using consistent panel sizes and shapes can help to create a sense of rhythm and flow, as the reader becomes accustomed to the way the panels are arranged on the page.


  • Use panel placement to guide the reader's eye: Placing panels in a logical order and using the "golden triangle" (placing the most important panel at the top left, the next most important panel at the top right, and so on) can help to guide the reader's eye and create a sense of flow.


  • Use panel borders and gutters effectively: Panel borders and gutters (the space between panels) can be used to create a sense of flow and progression. For example, you can use thin panel borders and wide gutters to create a sense of distance and separation, or you can use thick panel borders and narrow gutters to create a sense of intimacy and proximity.


  • Use page layout to create flow: The overall layout of the page can also contribute to flow. Using a grid-like layout with panels of the same size and shape can create a sense of stability and predictability while using a more dynamic layout with panels of different sizes and shapes can create a sense of movement and dynamism.


  • Use word balloons and captions effectively: Word balloons and captions can be used to guide the reader's eye and create a sense of flow. For example, you can use the direction of the word balloon's tail to suggest the direction of the next panel, or you can use a character's speech to lead the reader's gaze to the next panel.


  • Use pacing to create flow: Pacing refers to the way that the story is told, and it can have a big impact on flow. Using a slow pace can create a sense of tension and suspense while using a fast pace can create a sense of excitement and action. Experimenting with different pacing techniques can help you to find the right balance for your story.


Maximizing the flow of your comic panels is an important part of creating an engaging and immersive reading experience. By using panel transitions, consistent panel sizes and shapes, panel placement, panel borders and gutters, page layout, word balloons and captions, and pacing effectively, you can create a sense of flow and progression that will keep your readers turning the pages.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, a good panel layout is one that helps to guide the reader's eye, create a sense of flow and progression, and emphasize important elements. The writer should be keeping this in mind when making the script for your comic. Be sure to jot down a simple thumbnail image describing each page layout. Stick figures are totally fine at this point. This way the artist has something to go off of.