Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login


Submitted on
March 16, 2012
Image Size
440 KB
Submitted with


5,510 (2 today)
309 (who?)
Loom's Paneling Musings 02: Stepping Down by LOOMcomics Loom's Paneling Musings 02: Stepping Down by LOOMcomics
Musings on Paneling
02: Stepping Down

*_* More Thoughts. Hopefully is ADD friendly. I hope it is approachable and leaves every viewer feeling free to do with the general ideas what they like. This one uses staggering panels and also bleeds to establish hierarchy of reading.

Stepdowns can be great to lead the eye. Likewise, they can step-you-up. Like a transformer! You can "step-up" to the next panel or page in a book, and I see other manga/comic artists use this method a lot! You can use it in all sorts of ways if you wanna explore it! It's really a matter of hierarchy (and it lets you shake things up every once in a while!)

Interesting enough, the manga I find easiest to read usually use stepdowns and stepups a lot, especially the last panel of a spread (YuYu Hakusho, Please Save My Earth, Rurouni Kenshin, Full Metal Alchemist, Naruto). Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara manga uses a variety of stepdown/stepup techniques VERY effectively... Takahiro Arai who I came across in the library uses this well. A lot of people use it well. Skip Beat by Yoshiki Nakamura uses stepping a hella lot.

Again, it's not something people will use all the time (some people forego this especially in collage/overlay types). The most varied panelist I've ever read is Kyoko Ariyoshi, who seems to use and mix every damn godly paneling technique known to mankind. *_*

:star::star::star:Finalized, Unmarked Reference Page Used Can be Viewed Here.:star::star::star:

Vampire Fetish Sample Page (c) *LOOMinate

:iconstopplz: WARNING: This is just one principle concerning a single page. Don't take it to be all encompassing but rather a single penny thrown into the wishing fountain. I'm not saying to always these principles. I'm just musing about them. :)

Other Tutorials in this Series:
:bulletred: 01: The Big #2
:bulletred: 02: Stepping Down
:bulletred: 03: Hand Gestures
:bulletred: 04: Little 2, Big 2

Other Tutorials:
:bulletblue: Mesh-Hatching
:bulletblue: Chain-Hatching
:bulletblue: Comic Thumbnail PLanner
:bulletblue: Comic Spread Planner
Add a Comment:
AsjJohnson Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This makes sense. Not that I'd remember it while drawing pages... (though I've been taking a long break from comicking right now, anyhow... I really should get back to it...) You said happy Valentine's Day to me earlier. ^_^ But I was looking at this because it was in an animangaArtists deviation stack I wanted to look through. ^_^" And I'm rambling about nothing. >_>" But, this has some good tips. There's too many comics I see that are so ambiguous when it comes to reading direction, and if every page had some of those things, it would be obvious.
LOOMcomics Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Student Interface Designer
Ohh, I'm weird in that I consider any kind of study kind of like sports practice. When it's game time, you sort of shut off "coaching" and just do it, hoping anything you've studied or practiced has been ingrained in such a way that it comes out during the game. :) Feel free to ramble anytime! I love rambling. ;) In fact, this so-called "tutorial" is really more along the lines of musing/rambling. XD
AsjJohnson Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I guess I kind of think that way, but it also depends on how soon afterward it could be put to use, and if I would turn to doing something the way I've done it numerous times in the past, or the way I'd heard of once or twice. I think for this situation, it's kind of about how I would start out thinking about a page. If it works with the way I usually go about thinking, it would be easy to put to use, but if it's too different, I'd have to consciously remember to think about it.
LOOMcomics Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2013  Student Interface Designer
:) Makes sense.
Shumijin Featured By Owner May 3, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Your tutorials are amazing :) I've learned a lot, thank you!
LOOMcomics Featured By Owner May 7, 2012  Student Interface Designer
Thank you for commenting! I'm glad they're of use. :D
OELchampion Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012
This is...surprisingly insightful. This whole series, actually. I can see it being applied to all styles!
LOOMcomics Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012  Student Interface Designer
I'm glad you think so!
SmallJoy Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012   Digital Artist
hm. I've never really liked this technique, probably because a lot of the comics that use it a lot, such as skip beat, have such incomprehensible panelling, but also because it seems messy to me, especially having the bleed come off the page. Now that you've explained it, I can see what it's meant for.

It's also pointed out to me a major advantage step downs have over right angle block-based comics, that i'd never realised before, in that it allows for much greater compositional differences between panels wtihout forcing unsuitable proportions. What I mean is, like, in those last three panels, the second two are roughly the same width, and if their horizontal cut off points were the same, they'd be the same size, which is always icky. You'd want to alter their width a little to distinguish them from each other, but because they already have the horizontal difference with the step down, they don't need to be distinguished by width.

If you're doing a series of these tutorials, could you also do one abotu how left-to-right compositions, both of panelling and the stuff in the panels, differ from right-to-left? I see lots of people who really like manga drawing right-to-left comics with compositions that naturally read left-to-right, or people drawing left to right with compositions that naturally read right to left. It's confusing as hell to read and I think some people could really benefit from a tutorial on it.
LOOMcomics Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2012  Student Interface Designer
It's probably a matter of opinion. I have trouble reading many shoujo manga (I'm generally a shounen and seinen fan), but I found Skip Beat a breeze to read, except for a few parts where the pages are shaped like C's and tend to jump around and the author might use arrows to say, "go here." >.> Hey, nobody's perfect, even pros! But there are some really good paneling eras within it. I was pleased to see that during the "easier to read parts," that she utilized this a lot, and I wondered if it might be part of why I find it much easier to read than other shoujos at those times, despite the sometimes hard-to-swallow (gross?) elongated proportions of the characters. :iconsadnessplz:

And I don't know if I'd consider it an advantage or anything. It's simply different. :) Kind of like in painting, you have so many variations to to pick from when it comes to choosing the content and compositions! This is just a single way of tackling a design problem in a single instance. If you look at my above commentary to *GeoSoulReaper, you'll see loads of examples of comics that don't use this at all. Paneling is infinitely complex and not just isolated to panel design, as I'm sure you know. (Just stating things for the sake of stating things, here.) It also involves a lot of composition within the panels, character context, speech bubbles (which I stress a lot), and sound effects (if used). (Sometimes, for example, you'd look at composition in terms of the character sizes, widths, blahblahblah.) As for horizontal cut-off points, one man who uses them so well that I want to tear my hair out and cry is Tezuka in his Phoenix. There's this one page of the character passing out and the panels step-down until he's unconscious and the effect is sooo cool! *_*

With left-right versus right-left, it's simply mirror-image. I don't understand why we can't just flip it in our minds and apply it to English; that's really what I'm already doing here, actually. ^^; Although one difference for us in English is the challenge of utilizing verticality in speech bubbles (we have to cut down the dialogue whereas the Japanese can cram a lot of text in theirs since they can write so easily in vertical format!) These are tips I picked over time from reading lots of manga and comics. I was also reading about paneling on one of those International Comic sites a few years back that releases PDFs. It was talking about beginning manga composition and it was really cool! So I started cataloging my favorite pages and seeing what activated the spaces. *_*

With Japanese comics, it merely steps down or up in the opposite direction. Like here in the top right is where you begin on the right page, and the bottom left on the left page, which is bled out, is where you'd end. ^^ That's divided up over a two page spread, but it's the same principle expanded on. There's more to it that that when it comes to two-page spreads (you don't want two pages to line up perfectly, for example, in terms of paneling) but this is a good starter for thinking about it, I figured. Thinking of it in miniature or something... It's really good to do two pages at a time, which is why it's good to plan two at a time. This is my planner I made for myself here, and you can see that it calls for two pages: [link]

But I wanted this to be approachable and not too complicated. *collapses* I thought maybe looking at stuff in microcosm would be a good start. Like doing things and then building up/putting it together. Kind of like in fastpitch softball pitching, how you never start out w/the full motion. You start out on your hands and knees and then move to footwork separately. *kills the sports analogy* I think sometimes people look at stuff and it's instant TL;DR effect. Kind of like my replies. >> *gouges out eyes* :icononihauntyou:

And of course, sometimes stuff doesn't come out perfect or you wish you'd done something differently that you did in the past. But...what's done is done, Wilbur. Sometimes, you just have to eat your bacon and poop it out. And move on to the next project/page and apply what new things you've learned. At least, that's how it is for me. *_*
Add a Comment: