Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"Camera" Choices:

When laying out a comic, it's important to switch up the "camera angle" (the reader's point of view) to make sure your page layouts are dynamic and interesting. I have seen a lot of portfolios where the artists repeats the same camera placement for nearly every panel, and while there is a time & place you can use that technique for effect, it's not what you want to do to tell most stories. Here are a few examples of camera angles with various Mouse Guard panels as examples:


Here the camera is under the subjects and looking upwards. The angle can be subtle or extreme. This can be effective for a scene where you need to include the sky or a very tall item with the characters. It's also a helpful angle when showing something falling towards the characters.


Just like the Upshot, but from above the characters. I use this often when I'm trying to show the characters relative to each other and/or their location. Drawing them from above can become much like a map of the characters and where they stand in a room. Just like the Upshot, this can be useful to force the perspective and show a character's scale to an item, location, or other character.

Non-Character focus:

Pulling away from your characters to avoid a series of 'talking head' panels can break up the monotony and give your reader a better sense of the world your characters inhabit. Showing a detail of architecture, someones handwriting, an establishing landscape view, or the craftsmanship of items on a desk, can still allow for narration or dialogue without having to put the character in every panel.


With each of these camera angles and view, you also have a choice of zoom. The basics are a tight, medium, or wide shot, but you can go between these levels and fall outside of them with extremes. Wide shots work well for establishing shots. Medium shots are good for one or two characters having dialogue. Closeups are good at showing emotion on characters.

So if you are working on telling stories in comics, make sure you are varying the point of view your reader has. Try inserting a new camera angle into your pages.

Fan Art: From Jason Forest: "My sons, though they are young (age 2 and 6) love to pour over the art in your books. My oldest asked me to draw him as a Mouse of the Guard- I decided not to compete with your mice, or toiling over making my son into one of them-so I compromised with him, and did a David Petersen inspired piece"

It's lovely and really captures the spirit of what I try to make Mouse Guard all about. Thanks Jason!

2011 Appearances

Phoenix Comic Con: May 26-29

Cherry Capital Con: June 25-26

San Diego Comic Con: July 20-24

Baltimore Comic Con: Aug. 20-21

New York Comic Con: Oct. 14-16


sandalscout AKA Matthew said...

Thanks for this great post. I am no artist, but I love getting little bits of insight into the techniques used to make a successful comic.

Jason's drawing is AWESOME! I love the idea of a bear mount, turned out great!

Lauren Gardiner said...

This camera angle stuff will be really helpful when I'm making my comics! Thanks!

DPetersen said...

Don't know if this link will work, but Gene Ha commented on this post and started a dialogue about the subject on his Facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=152572018141135&id=163146063704467&notif_t=share_reply

nicholas said...

I really appreciate posts like this, as they serve as a great reminder. Now that you mention it, I've paged through your comics and your camera choices really drive your work well.

Thanks David!

AlphaWolf said...

Nice! I agree that the camera angles do keep the reader interested. I wouldn't like your comic as much if you didn't have those angles. I love the story but the POV is definately very important.

Max West said...

A few people told me to vary my angles and shots more. Your own post makes me realize that it's true - I should try a better variety.

On the subject of composition, Dave, have you read the book Framed Ink: Drawing and Composition for Visual Storytellers by Marcos Mateu-Miestre? That is a goldmine of info on camera views, placements, positioning, etc.

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