After Hours

Practical illustration for the computer-inclined: Part 7 - Thinking cinematically

In Part 6—Sequence, again you learned how to create a comic strip. The panels may be pretty basic on the surface, so let's shake things up a bit by turning the perspective around. I'm not talking so much about crane views as close-ups and tension-building through action.

If you watch your favorite movie, you'll see how much of the story is driven through camera work. A five-second close-up shot of a character's face often can tell you more than two minutes of dialogue; a direct gaze can shock the viewer into an unexpected consciousness. Hitchcock was a master at this—think of Raymond Burr looking out the window at Jimmy Stewart in "Rear Window," knowing that the jig is up. Or, on the flip side, check out Stewart's face as his wheelchair-bound character physically struggles with the knowledge that he can do nothing to save his girlfriend trapped in the killer's apartment across the courtyard. (However, the dissonance of Hitchcock's storytelling in this case lies in the fact that most of the action is viewed from a distance. I digress.)

Take a look at this Suburban Tribe strip between "good Haley" and "bad Haley." Long story short... well, you'll get it.

Cinematic-Suburban-Tribe Courtesy of John Lee

The "strip" technically has seven panels, but their staggered size and position makes it feel like a discrete whole. Just like in a quick-cut film scene, there's a lot to take in. If you could see several things happening at once in an action sequence, what would you want to see? Think about that the next time you watch a film, read a comic—or create your next piece.

Happy drawing!

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