How to Lay Out a Comic Book Page:
You’re getting ready to start drawing your comic book, but you don’t know how to lay out a comic page. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Follow these simple steps and you can lay out your sheets quite easily.
First…Create a Border Page:
The first thing I do is create a border page. A border page is just a standard sheet of paper with a black border on it. I do this to set the outer limits of my comic panels. I usually create a border page in Photoshop, but you can just as easily take an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, get out a T-square and draw lines around the edges of the paper. I draw my lines about 1/4" away from the paper’s top and bottom edges and 1/2" away from the right and left edges.
To see how to do this in Photoshop in less than 3 minutes, watch the video below:
The border page result will look like the image below. This is a standard 8-1/2" x 11" page that you can use. If you drew it by hand, make a bunch of copies and keep them for when you need them. If you did it in the computer, print out a bunch of copies and save the file.
A typical Border Page for use in your comic book layout.
Now once you have this border sheet, you’re ready to rock and roll. What I do is take this page and start sketching my panels out. Every page will look different. Every panel will have a different size and shape requirement. You have to use your judgement based on the needs of your artwork.
It’s a good idea to lay your sheets out quickly. Do quick sketches in the panel of the content by following your script. Insert your characters, and other elements, where they need to be in the layout. Make sure they are placed in a way that you can present their dialogue in the manner that it is intended to be read. Make sure your panels, and dialogue read left to right, top to bottom. I shouldn’t even have to say that, but when you’re laying out comic pages, it sometimes gets difficult to fit things where they need to be.
A border page with a quick sketchy layout is displayed below:
Border page with quick, sketch pencil layout of a comic page.
Notice that the interior panel separations are not even straight. I just kind of sketched those lines in as I went along. The nice thing about laying the page out quickly is that I can see how the composition looks as a whole before I start to finalize it. It also gives me an opportunity to make changes if I do not like something. And, I always end up changing something!
Finally…Hardline your sketches:
Once I am satisfied with the layout, I can go ahead and start to finalize the pencils. I first use a straight edge to hardline the panels. Next, I start in the upper left hand corner and work left to right. I erase a little bit at a time as I replace that with the new, final linework. Another nice thing about the quick sketch method I talked about above is that it makes it easier to draw the final lines. Everything is laid out for you. It’s like tracing your own linework.
Do not be afraid to use straight edges, circle templates, french curves or any other tools to finalize your work. Your steady hand is not always so steady. Use tools when you can.
Border page with finalized pencils…just about ready to ink.
When you’ve got your final pencils completed, and your page is laid out perfectly to your liking, the next step is to ink. If you’re using to computer to enhance and preserve your artwork, I’ve created another video that shows you how to scan and prepare your final pencils for inking.
In a future post, I will talk about some helpful inking tips. [Coming Soon]
For more information on Comic Book Creation, check out my eBook:
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