Perspective in Storytelling 27
By now I’ve gone through most everything I can think of to tell you about how to use perspective to tell better stories, except they’ve mostly been isolated panels. This is COMICS—the whole point of the existence of comics is that something magical happens when images are juxtaposed!
I felt inspired to do this series of perspective posts because I’ve seen a lot of portfolios at this point, and the #1 thing they all need to work on is their layouts. It’s so much more important than having pretty art. They don’t notice that the way they choose angles and cropping totally affects how clear a page is, and how well each panel leads into another. It’s a hidden skill…they don’t see the possibilities because they are too easily manipulated by what they read. So I am forcing you to see what can be tough to nail down.
In general, when I can, I try to make panels lead into each other. This can be in many forms…but mostly it’s that the perspective (in my mind) somehow points to the next panel.
In the first panel, the horizon line is tilted toward the top right. Random: when things are tilted, I tend to tilt toward the top right when the story has a “…?” feel to it, and I tilt down when something is confident, or powerful, or whatever. Anyway, that tilt also leads us to that insert panel 2, which we could easily lose otherwise.
Of course, now we’re stuck at the top right panel 2, but it’s easy to be lead down to panel 3 because panel 1’s got such a low angle. It makes us want to look down…after we give panel 1 a second glance. Made you look!
Panel 3 probably leads the eye the least, but it’s okay because it’s so clear. I used side view because it’s easier to show gestures that way, and I wanted to show her orientation a bit. Still, most lines point down to the next panel, and the horizon is lower than her head, which leads us lower, too.
Panel 4: She’s bending down to pick up masks. What better way to show that, than to A), draw at a high-ish angle—now she is below the viewer, and B), have the panel situated at the bottom of the page?
Panel 5: And of course, that sets up the next panel, which is taller, and leads the eye back up again, to go with the act of Eve standing up. We are now looking up at her from a low angle. This is an even page, meaning the page will be on the left when the comic is open. I always like it when I can manage to make the last panel of an even page lead the eye diagonally up again, so that people are ready to see the first panel of an odd page. And I try to have that first panel of an odd page work with the previous panel, too.
Keep in mind I’m using this page because it’s a GOOD example—my stuff doesn’t always lead the eye perfectly. Although in those cases I try to be very clear.
Notice that the bottom three panels feature Eve facing right. You want to try to keep the direction of action going left to right. Even the top two panels lead to the right in some form.
Also when you lay out a page, consider cropping heads and such. If every panel has the same amount of space above characters’ heads, it feels more station-to-station. Then of course, there are people who crop too much—this is usually on close ups—to the point that what we’re looking at is unclear. So try and figure out where you lie on that spectrum—are you too literal and need to crop more, or are you too vague and need to zoom out?
I think this is my last perspective post. Unless I remember something I need to talk about! Well, there will be at least one more; gonna provide an easy link and intro to the whole series. Thanks for reading and sharing!! I hope this has given you some direction and ideas.
For more perspective posts, click here.