Extra cool cartoonist Phil asked me about “those grids” in my comic sketches. So why not make a post about it?

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Panel layout was always something I struggled with, I get really freaked out by a blank page… too many possibilities!

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That and the fact that I actually prefer a more rigid layout (ala Herge and less Manga) made the discovery of THIS Blogpost by Kevin
Huizenga
into a BIG THING.


He had created a GRID that one could use to put in panels, always with the same distances, from 8 panels up to 12 (or various combos).

I’ve used this grid in pretty much EVERY comic I have drawn since 2011.

Its a safety net that lets me focus on storytelling instead of page layout.
I understand that folks like Chris Ware would think this is terrible and a waste of the medium… but as someone always jumping between storyboarding and drawing comics, I tend to only want samey rectangles anyways.
Left to right, same sizes is where I live.

This is the grid (I also made it work for 6 panels):

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(see below for a Download link to it)

And here is how I use it:

(I used Harvey Beaks “First Class Finder” as an example, you can buy it here)

1) I start with copy&paste.
Arranging the dialogue I have from the script. If the writer has some specific panels in mind, I try following that but it tends to be a mix of his wishes and my feel for the flow. Even when working without a script, I try to scribble text in first to see how much space I need.
The worst thing is drawing something pretty only to cover it with dialogue after.

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2) From there I make the call where and how many panels I see

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3) I sketch my first drawings

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4) I then Ink the Panel boarders and the balloons

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5) And then the rest of the page.

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All these steps pretty much go for all pages, so I put all the words in first, ink all the panels and then sketch everything. With my own comics this is a bit more muddled but it basically stays the same.

HERE IS THE GRID as a Photoshop file if you want to join me on my boring
“no freedom” comic making!

UPDATE:

PHIL turned this into a super automated machine of a grid, holy smokes!
The only thing missing now is a button that makes Photoshop draw and color automatically and everybody could play more video games!