Manga Study Guide: Barefoot Gen/Layout
Manga Conventions: Layout
Composition plays a major role in how the reader will follow the story, determined mainly by the positioning of the panels (images), and it also creates the atmosphere through lightings. Sizes of the panels determines the scene, typically showing mental images over large boxes, and small but many boxes will give a sequencial feeling.
Positive/Negative Spacing is referred to the two colors: black (negative) and white (positive). A good balance in the two types of spacing will make a best composition, and balance can be maintained by adding black to areas that are too white, and the same for white.
Flow is how the reader’s eye moves across the page. Many Japanese Manga is read from right to left, whilst Western comics are to be read from left to right. Depending on your audience, it is important for the illustrator to distribute the images in the right place, and use other features in a way that makes the reader’s eye move in the correct order.
Timing is what determines the flow, but also portrays the importance of the scene and the key points by the size, shape and and the position of the panels. The time it takes the reader to look through one frame is what determines the pace of events and illusion of time. Commonly, when the panels are bigger, they are showing the scene that the illustrator (mangaka) wants to emphasize the important points in the story - the bigger the panel, the longer the eye will linger on the frame. The smaller panels tend to give a sequencial feeling but also show the personality of characters, and the faster the eye will move onto another panel.