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Comics 101 for 09/21/2006
'Z' Formation In Page Design - Part 2
Example #2 from StormQuest #1
Here's a slightly more 'classical' layout example for 'Z' formation in this page. The larger dominant figure on the left side of the panel is zapping the ground causing the earth to explode underneath the bad guy on the right side of the page. This is also the largest, most dramatic and powerful panel on the page. This kind of panel is very effective when illustrating a dramatic action scene by showing the entire forms of the characters and allowing plenty of room for the action portrayed. The blast coming from the larger character's hands is itself a compositional device as the rays taper towards the bottom right of the panel going back in space. Actually, the main figure's hands themselves are subtle compositional devices as he is pointing us towards the action on the right. We are drawn towards the general direction of the blast to the left side of the page for panel two. In panel two, the motorcycle is another compositional device framing the figures and breaking the panel's borders directly into panel three. The positioning of the figures in panel three from top left to bottom right still propel the action towards the last panel of the dramatic close-up in panel four.
Example 3# from Parts Unknown #3
In this example we are dealing with overlapping, stair-step panels still utilizing 'Z' formation properly. In panel one, the characters are leaping through the wall on the left in the right hand direction. The use of the sound effect type (KKAROOOMM!) further enhances the horizontal movement. With panel two immediately overlapping panel one, we are drawn towards the center of the action within that panel and are carried off to the right side by the sound effect (WHUMP!). Another possible direction with this particular panel is to be drawn from the claw of the cyber-suit breaking the border of panel one from panel two and moving towards the dominant shape of the boot in the foreground. Either way, both options keep 'Z' formation intact as panel two overlaps into panel three. In panel three, our good guy is kicking the villainous monster off and away towards the right hand side of the page. Panel three is also tilting toward the right into panel four where it overlaps again. The characters in this last panel are staged sensibly as they run from the left to the right and eventually off the page.
The continuous overlapping of panels in the action scene heightens the sense of urgency and quickens the pacing of the action between the panels. This allows no closure between panels by not separating them with gutter space as in the previous examples. By not allowing for closure, the penciler is giving the reader less time to fill in the blanks between panels since the action within these panels is immediate.
I hope you enjoyed this article on breaking down layout technique for sequential page design. Be sure to pick up a copy of Sketch magazine to learn more comic book art drawing techniques.
The artwork used in this Comics 101 feature is owned and copyright Blue Line Pro.
See ya next week for another Comics 101 feature!
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