Friday, February 4, 2011

Thumbnails: They Come In Handy!

You get it? You see what I did there? With the pun? Thumbs… Hand-y…

Ah, well. I’m not talking about those kinds of thumbnails anyway. I’m talking about the other kind. As in sketches.

I mentioned before that I’m trying my hand at doing thumbnails as I write some of the scripts for the coming web comic. Here’s what that looks like:

Er… That might not work if anyone but me needs to understand them. Actually, after some time passed, even I was a bit confused and had to decipher my intentions.

First thing I did was type up the script based on my sketches. (You see all that indecipherable chicken scratch? Some of that is actually dialogue and stuff.) Then I re-drew the thumbnails. Since their purpose is communication, I tried to make these thumbnails sketches (palm sketches would be a more accurate size-correlation label, but whatever) as clear as possible. I thought adding some gray marker would help to that end. (And also, maybe I was procrastinating getting to the next thing on my to-do list.) (Boy, this paragraph has a lot of parentheticals [I loooove parentheticals!])

I kept forgetting that I’m left-handed and made a bunch of pen smudges. If you’re a southpaw like me, you probably already know that when working with smudgeables it’s best to move from right-to-left if you can’t keep yourself from resting your hand on the page.

Writing is re-writing they say, and just because one is writing with thumbnails doesn’t mean the old adage is any less true. Doing the thumbnails over allowed me to see what obviously wasn’t going to work. Page 2 is a good example of that. I made a few changes on this page, but one mistake was glaring. This is what I originally sketched out:

Can you see why that won’t work?

Scott McCloud explains it well in Making Comics when he talks about “choice of flow.” Basically, we have a certain way of reading. In western cultures, it’s left-to-right, top-to-bottom. The above layout sketch creates confusion because the reader’s eye will want to go from panel two to panel three to panel six. Adding arrows is an easy fix and works for some comics, but wouldn’t work for this one.

So this was my solution:

I made the three panels in question floating panels so that they overlapped panel five (previously panel six) and panel one just slightly. It was my hope that that would alleviate any confusion as to what order they should be read. After all, it’s an instinctively understood concept that the thing overlapping something else is closer i.e. comes first. Also, I thought this arrangement would indicate that those three images are one set, kinda sorta like a triptych. Whatcha think? Does it work now?

I’m quite liking this working-on-thumbnails-as-I-write way of doing thing. I think this experience will help me even when I’m required to write scripts separate from doing any sketches.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I use a very similar technique. You can see it here is in spanish, but drawings are international ;)