Thumbnailing and Layouts!
This tutorial was requested by the lovely Laughing Astarael

To be honest, when it comes to comics, I don't care how good or bad my ART is so long as the emotion gets across. And not just mine, other people's comics too.. What I see isn't as important as what I get out of it.

But one thing I'm pretty strict on is the layout, style, and design of a comic page. Even if someone's skill isn't up to par, the least they can do is give it a good presentation! And some people have amazing art, but really crappy presentation.. It goes both ways. Layout is important!

When I first started drawing comics, I honestly had no idea what to do about layouts.. I would divide the page into a few boxes and that's all. I would flip through some manga for inspiration, but when I did that it just made me frustrated.. How did he decided to put THAT frame THERE and make that other one just that size! And cut off just that much of the character.. Gah! I couldn't understand it.

But the more I tried things out, the better I got at it. And now I think I can do a pretty decent layout.

So when I make a layout, I use a few rules...
If you're completely new at making comics, start out with ONLY A COUPLE RULES and then as you get better, you can add more and more to your list until you've got a really wonderful formula for making great layouts.

Rule 1: Thumbnail.
What does that mean? Make a small sketch of sorta what you want things to look like before you draw the actual page. My thumbnails are really inefficiently simple. Like this But they're good enough for me.

Rule 2: Never have the two frames next to eachother showing the same character from the same distance away. Ever. Unless you're specifically doing it for some kind of dramatic effect.

Rule 3: Never have two frames next to eachother that are from the same angle.
In fact, never having two frames from the same angle on the same page would be ideal.

Rule 4: Don't go more than one page without showing 1. A background or other scenic cue and 2. your character's feet.

Rule 5: Don't go a full page without at least one diagonal frame.

Rule 6: Look at the page as an entire picture, with all the frames making some kind of nifty window. If your window doesn't look nifty, then maybe there's something wrong. Try varying the sizes of the frames, the less repetition there is the better.

Rule 7: Think about darks and lights, don't put two dark frames next to eachother and the rest light, or your page will look cut in half from afar. Think about the whole picture. If you want one frame to really stand out, you'll have to work the contrast in your favor.

Rule 8: Do the speech bubbles coming from different sides of the faces. If they all go to the left or something every time, it looks weird.

Rule 9: Vary the size of the font based on how close or far away the character is from the "camera" and how loudly they are speaking.

Rule 10: Work on things one scene at a time, not one page at a time, so that the dialogue sounds effective from page to page. For example, if a character asks, "How are you?" Don't make me flip the page to get the answer. But if the character asks, "What's the secret key to the universe?" it might be ideal for me to have to bother to flip the page to reveal your answer. Also, always start the next scene on a fresh new page. It helps things flow for the reader.

Well there ya go! I hope that was helpful. Let me know if you have any more questions.

- Jenshin

Random is God