Friday, December 03, 2010

Comic Book Thumbnails

I thought I'd share something I have been working on. I've been drawing thumbnails of comic books and manga pages to study the pacing of the stories, the layout of the panels, and the placement of B&W and color. Its been extremely helpful to look at a story as a whole and see the structure of it. Below are the thumbnails I drew from Sardine in Outer Space V.1 by Emmanuel Guibert and Johann Sfar, and Naruto V.28 by Masashi Kishimoto.

Sardine is very consistent when it comes to panel size, shots, placement of word bubbles, and color. The sketchy nature of the original artwork makes my thumbnails not as legible as Naruto's below, but you can still see the overall consistency of Sfar's work. (Note: My thumbnails are in B&W, the comic is in color. Also the size of the image is just a bit bigger than the actual sketchbook page. The pages read left-to-right, page turns are marked with a small star.)

I know that Naruto isn't really taken seriously online by some comic-reading folks. Its mainly written off as a silly manga about ninjas, but Kishimoto is SO good when it comes to character design (I should type up a post about just that topic at another time) and layouts.

In my thumbnails below the pages read right-to-left and page turns are noted at the bottom left with a star. Note how Kishimoto extends the panels away from the gutter, keeping it clear except for spreads. The shots vary widely from extreme close-ups to wide shots. Tone is used to separate a character from the background or to emphasize a past memory, I've only seen it used sparingly for rendering a shape. Scene changes are marked with a small panel of background imagery. Word bubbles are almost in every panel but the dialogue is kept short, plenty of space is left for the image. (That's something I need to work on, my panels can sometimes get crowded with dialogue) There is a great balance of black and white especially in the fight scenes of 246 (the top one).

Its been a learning experience working on these. I've done quite a few, these three are just a sampling. :) Right now I'm especially studying manga because they are printed in black and white, the same way I eventually plan publish my comic.

When my schedule clears back up I have plans to sketch out Yotsuba, Lone Wolf and Cub, and Blade of the Immortal. I also want to start looking at some American titles: Bone (how could I not?), later issues of Finder, Blankets, and B&W issues of classic Uncanny X-Men. If you want to draw comics I really recommend doing this. I have learned so much from the couple of titles I've already sketched from.

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