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So you want to make a comic book?  That is awesome!  Let's make sure it doesn't suck...

A comic book, though dominated by pictures, is more like a language than anything else.  It's communicating a story, information, and/or ideas to somebody else.  In order to communicate clearly there are certain rules that need to be followed so that everyone understands what the story, info, or idea is trying to convey, much like a language.

There is alot of rules to comic book and sequential art composing.  So we're going to do this in two parts.  Part one is the bare bones basics.  Next week will be part two, where we talk about some higher level concepts.  Still the basics, but part two is useless to you unless you understand this part today.  So lets get started.

1. Panel Direction




*side note for those who are unaware:  the word "manga" is the japanese word for comic. It is not an art style.  Though there are artistic styles that are nearly exclusive to japanese comics, the word manga is not the name of that style.  So when you're saying "I'm making a manga" you're not saying "i'm drawing in an eastern or japanese style," you are saying "I'm making comics."  and making your comic read from right to left, when you speak english, does not make it more "authentic," it just makes it confusing.

2. Panel Layout




 

 

 



 

3. Word Balloons




 

So thats the bare bones basics in comics.  If you can nail down these three things, then at the very least you'll have an comic thats clear and easy to read.  Next week we'll talk about pacing, panel sizes, and depicting movement.  If you can nail down that lesson with today's tutorial, then the only thing left to know is the actual drawing part!

Hoped this helped you guys.  If it did leave a comment and let me know!

And remember, we don't make excuses here, we make comics!

We're too lost
to lose hope
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:iconangievx:
AngieVX Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Student General Artist

deviantART muro drawing Comment Drawing
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
close but not quite english would move over to the right first before moving down (thats why arranging panels like that would be confusing to an english reader). but the japanese one is correct.
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:iconangievx:
AngieVX Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Student General Artist
I don't know how it can be confusing. I have no idea how you can actually read following red arrows. After all you don't have troubles reading columns in newspaper.
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:iconpit-of-darkness:
Pit-of-Darkness Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Student General Artist
very helpful :)
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
Great! Glad I can help!
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:iconpit-of-darkness:
Pit-of-Darkness Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Student General Artist
:)
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:iconangievx:
AngieVX Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Student General Artist
Nice, though first is questionable. It's a matter of habit in my opinion. When I look at something positioned as manga I start reading it right to left... and I guess people who read a lot of manga might feel it more natural since all translated Japanese manga is still right-left, it's not mirrored (I have no idea how it is in your country though, maybe it's mirrored).

Anyway when you read a couple of pages in a row, you get used to any direction, even if it's down-up. Also I think it's a good brain-training, and might be good for art... like breaking standards. :XD:

I think it could make a nice scientific research :D
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
Old manga here in the states was mirrored. But once it became popular, they started preserving the original art and just made it read from right to left.

I understand your point, however, even in manga translated from japanese, there is a mini tutorial in the begining of the book telling you how you need to read the book. This is essential if you're book reads in a different way than your language. And I can't even tell you how many fan manga's or original web manga's i've come across that reads right to left, but is in english, and has no indication on how you should read it. Its confusing, and made me give up on it before i finished the page.

So I'll allow conceed that "breaking standards" is acceptable AS LONG AS its made perfectly clear to the reader how you have to read the book. Otherwise you're doomed to confused readers. You'll probably still have alot of confused readers, but at least you're trying to explain what they're looking at.
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:iconangievx:
AngieVX Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Student General Artist
I know about mini tutorial, and it's so cute, like a pirate map with treasures. :D

Anyway, I read my first manga online, in English, not mirrored and without tutorial... took me only a couple of minutes to figure out how to read (*note: I didn't read any comic before so reading any comic would take me some time to understand how to do it, English is not my native language and there were no notes about direction at all). So due to my personal experience - it's not such a big trouble (even if there's no description).

What you say is more important for web-design, newspapers a.t.c. because people want to find information that they need quickly. As for reading a comic - it's more concentrated on process and art than result (finding information quickly). Maybe slowing down speed of reading (by opposite direction) is even good for attracting attention to details and art.

Anyway, I think this "map" is a must for ANY comic, no matter if you use normal direction or reversed... because as I said before - when you read a comic for the first time - it's never obvious enough and can cause confusion.

Also when you take manga - you don't actually care if it the author is a native Japanese or not, and you don't really care about original language of the book. So since there is a lot of non-mirrored translated manga, there's mirrored translated manga, there's original English manga - the indication is a must in any case. Because looking at the page you can't say the book's origins.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
Well you are right, people will be able to figure it out after a while But it shouldn't be people shouldn't have to figure it out. Knowledge of the language dictates how you read the comic. Like that road map you were talking about. In our languages we read from left to right, then we move down, then read left to right again. Japanese is actually top to bottom right to left. So when you see one panel above another you'd read the one below it before you move to the left. (Its hard to explain without a diagram.) But the only reason you know to move down first, is cause thats how the japanese language works.

In the end people can do whatever they want for their comics. But if they want their comic to be accessible to the most number of people, and not just a small percentage that has the patience to figure out how you organized your comic, you want to follow these rules.
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:iconangievx:
AngieVX Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Student General Artist
I understand what you mean about panels - but it's essential way to read like this - first down then to the left/right. because in fact panels create sections of panels. you actually read a column, like in a newspaper. It's hard to read it any other way in ANY language. (see MURO scheme, green is right direction, red is not, as you see, has nothing to do with direction, if fact I have no idea how it's possible to read using red arrows)

It would be true if not a lot of stuff in BOTH direction in the same language. But due to there's a lot of translated manga in both directions - it stopped being that obvious and uncomfortable.

Also - with printed manga - it's even less confusing because books are reversed.

Also I guess it makes sense to keep r-l direction if you want your work to be published in Japan.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
Well there are two ways you can make comics. 1. So that people understand how to read it. 2. So people can not misunderstand how to read it.

You're arguments, though valid, leaves way too much room for misunderstanding. This tutorial eliminates the possibility of misunderstanding when creating comics for people of your own culture and language.

But I feel like I'm beating a dead horse, and it could be because of our cultural differences in our nations. Russia is a lot closer to asia than the US, it it might have a stronger influence. So I'll leave it with my tutorial is the best way to layout comics for english speaking american made comics (being in an eastern or western style). Other nations' languages and cultures may lend itself to different layouts being more natural or effective. I don't know cause I haven't not lived everywhere in the world. So they must study their own people's tendencies for what works best for them.
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:iconangievx:
AngieVX Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Student General Artist
Manga look can make you misunderstand how to read even if you write it l-r XD
It would confuse me if I would see something manga-looking l-r. I mean when you give your comic a manga look - you have to draw a map or mention direction in any case now. That's all what I mean.
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Most people I met who lay out their dialogue and actions in the manga style, just want to make it look as if it actually was some Japanese manga that go translated into English. (For me, I agree that that's unnecessary but it makes it look like a bait and switch. :/) Still it's a great tutorial.

When I attempt to make panels for a comic (it's my weakness, obviously because I can't depict movement or whatever) they always look boring to me, even though the characters are in motion. But I guess I have to wait for next week.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
Though there are very creative ways to layout your panels to make them look exciting and full of energy, the "grid" is always the best way to layout the book. There are only a hand full of artist that can do the crazy stuff well. But they all started with the "grid" and grew from there. Besides It's what's INSIDE the panels that makes it look not boring. not the panels themselves.

If you do it right, no one will even notice the panels, they'll be engrossed on what's inside the panels. (going back to my "you know you did it right if no one notices you did anything at all")
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:iconlaemperatrizmariana:
LaEmperatrizMariana Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
From looking back at my own stuff, it's probably because the panels are all roughly the same size and that I cram a lot of text into them to decrease page count.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
yeah thats important. You don't want to cram in too much text, cause then its just a book, not a comic haha. Its all about pacing.
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:iconcovadax:
CovaDax Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
A great source for information like this is "Making Comics" by Scott McCloud, he goes over it great depth the trap a lot of new comic artists fall into like you mentioned in example 2.

I totally agree with comics going left to right, but I also think choosing to draw in an eastern art style is okay. As long as it reads in a way the demographic can understand.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
yeah, the way you draw is up to you. But if you're audience is confused about what they're supposed to be looking at, then you're failing.

I said in another comment, the only way it's acceptable is if you have a clear tutorial to the audience explaining how you need to read it. But its a gamble, if you're doing the right to left, in a society that reads left to right. You're not going to have as wide of an audience as you could have...
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:iconbluedragon82:
bluedragon82 Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Thanks Shono for this little tutorial. I'm always for seeing how someone else see's how a comic should be laid out.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
Well this is more than how it should, it needs to be like this. Given there is a ton of leeway within the rules, but even the most "crazy" comic layouts follow these rules OR they understand these rules so well they know how to effectively break them without confusing the reader.
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:iconmilzs:
milzs Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012
Makes me want to do something :D
Good tutorial! Can't wait for the next one!
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
totally! go make some comics!
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:iconsuzuriheinze:
SuzuriHeinze Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
I like this lesson!!

Oh, by the way, I have a little package coming your way in a few days. It's sent today. :heart:
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
hahah funny you said that. Your package is sitting here on the desk waiting for the mail man to arrive. I'm sure you'll have yours in a few days too!
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:iconsuzuriheinze:
SuzuriHeinze Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
After discussing it with my husband, we're also giving you some extra because we were so late in getting it out to you. I always feel bad about that, so I hope it makes up for something. :D
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
WHAT! NOOO! Don't do that. It took me til today to send mine out to you too! oh man, now i feel bad...
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:iconsuzuriheinze:
SuzuriHeinze Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Don't!! It's all ready out of here. Heh heh. I feel really, really bad about making you wait so long to get these that I threw in some extra that were just sitting around in the extras bag. There's always extras!
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
fine, but if you pick up issue #1 I might have to throw in some extras to make up for it!
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:iconsuzuriheinze:
SuzuriHeinze Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
Oooh. You certainly drive a hard bargain, my friend. I am gonna do our budget soon, and if I have extra, I'll come talk to you, okay?
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
of course. And no pressure of course. I don't want you to feel like you have to. Maybe we'll do another trade, once I free up some more time.
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(1 Reply)
:iconsuzuriheinze:
SuzuriHeinze Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional Artisan Crafter
:hug:

You're the best.
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:iconrentnarb:
rentnarb Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012
That was so funny. I love this.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
haha really? funny? well I didn't meant it to be, but I'm glad you found it entertaining.
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:iconrentnarb:
rentnarb Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012
Maybe it seemed so funny to me because most of it fell into the obvious range. I like it though.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
hahaha Yeah, but over my time teaching, and having fans ask me to look at their comics. you'd be shocked to find out how these obvious basics elude many many people. So If i want to show you guys how to make comics i have to start at the beginning.
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:iconrentnarb:
rentnarb Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012
I guess that's true. I look forward to seeing the more advanced tips.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2012  Professional General Artist
indeed!
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:iconares12:
ares12 Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Student Writer
I have so much to learn.
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:iconshono:
Shono Featured By Owner Apr 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
There is alot to making comics. There's a reason why it took me years and years and years to break in. It took me a long time to learn everything.
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