Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Panel borders

Sure, it might seem like a dull topic to some, but panel borders can be a significant asset or liability in comic storytelling. When done poorly, they're obvious and  distracting, but when they're done right, they're completely invisible and seamlessly blend into the story. In an attempt to understand why some panel borders work and some don't, I pulled out a few dozen random comics and spread them out side by side on my table. It's interesting to see the many variations in gutter size, panel spacing, line thickness (or complete lack of line). Some gutters are white, some are solid black, others are filled with various colors. Give it a try sometime, you'll be amazed at the many variations.

My opinion is that any variation in panel border design 'can' work as long as it's done with intent and control. I've been using solid black borders for quite some time, but since I intend to use a lot of heavy blacks in SWEETS, black borders can sometimes disappear into the artwork a bit too much and the reader may not see enough separation in the panels. I'll likely settle on using a combination of solutions depending on how much black is dumped into the panel and what kind of mood I'm going for. As I start posting artwork, keep your eyes on my panel borders, I'm going to be working hard to find the right balance with every new page.

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