Thursday, June 21, 2018

On comics panels within scenes—especially for 3d comics artists

Comic artists can learn a great deal by studying movie-making, but there are things that don't apply. In particular, a shot in a movie scene has different rules than a panel in a comics scene. The shot must convince us that we're still in the same scene, so some continuity is necessary—if nothing else, the lighting should stay consistent, and so should the color of the background.

But in comics, you can often get away with no background at all, or a background that consists of visual effects that aren't meant to be interpreted literally—effects like speed lines are symbolic representations of motion and have nothing to do with where the reader assumes a scene is set. Once a comic artist has established the location of a scene, the reader will assume anything that follows is happening in the same place until something indicates that the story has moved to a new location.

Remembering this is especially useful for 3d artists because the medium makes it too easy to have complex backgrounds in every panel. Study the old masters of comics storytelling, and you'll find they did their best to put no more than necessary in a panel. Additional detail may seem realistic, but it only complicates a panel and slows down the reader.