Thursday, April 9, 2009

Details on Panel Construction - An answer to a comment

I am posting in response to a comment in a previous post re: a question about the above panel-

"I find it tough to draw a scene like that, period. But, when I do it can often appear rather static like its set in a jell mold."

"Any tips?"

OK, good question.

First off, I will say that this panel wasn't 100% successful as I didn't get the sense of the environment/scene setting that I was trying for - and - this panel asked for a lot of details and as this was the last page of the issue on a tight deadline, I took a # of shortcuts to get it done.


1. Storytelling - know what information you need to put in the picture to make it clear to the reader what is happening in the panel/story - sounds boring but if this step fails the rest is "just putting lipstick on a pig".

2. Now to make it interesting and explosive use a variety of shapes, sizes, textures, - basic composition - but use composition to help you out and to make the picture interesting and provide depth.  I tilted the horizon line to make the reader feel off kilter as everything in the picture is. One last thing I did was make all the objects/characters explode out from where the vehicle entered the scene like explosions lines.

3.Ground in reality - use perspective to pull all those things into the same scene. Also, use overlapping shapes to provide depth of field (and secondary perspective). Finally, use blacks to give depth, for overall design and to lead the eye where you want it -in this case the vehicle exploding into panel

After the piece was inked, I went back in and added little details and blacks to help push the panel like I conceived it in my head. I like being able to do this with all my art.



  1. Thank you for that rundown. I find it heartening to know that you're not 100% satisfied with the panel. I can't find any fault in it.

    Finding complete satisfaction in my work is rare. It appears I'm in good company.


    The most challenging aspect for the comicbook, children's book, or illustrated book artist, I think, is storytelling. Its basic, but drawing one-offs doesn't present that challenge. Conveying a good story with vision and creative flair is difficult.

    Variation of basic shapes, composition, depth of field are all great tips. The "camera" tilt I especially appreciate.

    Again, thank you for taking the time.


  2. Yeah, I just pointed out my dissatisfaction with the panel from the start as I was trying to explain some fundamental things which my example wasn't successful in and didn't want to sound like a hypocrite. Of course, no artist is ever happy with something they do as this is what makes us strive to get better but that panel was a bit of a clinker.

    Storytelling is something that I came to late in the game ( and I mean professionally). I was always more concerned with a nice image and interesting layout than good storytelling and it wasn't until fairly recently that I really became serious about it. I was really concentrating on learning to draw and compose images and left storytelling to the mercy of the other disciplines - fortunately, I got away with it!

    And what I said about variation sounds boring but that is fundamental to making good compositions especially in superhero comic books.