Monday, December 19, 2011

Composition for Print

Extreme vertical compositions that would not work for film, at least not for a traditional widescreen shot. Panning up and down is another case.

Notice the nice rhythm from the flow of Batman's cape in the first panel that originates bottom left of the spread and gets picked up with his fingers in the next, continuing on through Joker's eyes and finally ending on Batman's head top right of the spread.

Nice layering of environment and silhouettes that also take into account the spine of the book and adjust accordingly.

Smaller repeating panels of similar size can denote story beats that are all equally important and that usually build up to a bigger release, as in the splash page.

Very nice spread utilizing the principle of extreme size variations to further enhance the storytelling through the composition.

This spread utilizes a nice division of space that creates very graphic shapes for a quick read but with details for further viewing.

These are some slides from one of my last lectures of the quarter. They cover some points that show how composition for stationary mediums like print are both similar and different from that of film. These beautiful illustrations are credited to the respective creators: Dave McKean ("Arkham Asylum" graphic novel), Barry Jackson ("Danny Diamondback" children's book) & Shaun Tan ("Emigrantes" graphic novel).

The main driving point here is that the difference for stationary mediums allows the artist much more creative freedom with regard to the layout and composition. Since the viewer can gaze upon a single image for as long as he or she would like, the artist can therefore explore less conventional compositions and even play with the read of the image by making it less clear than if it were for film.

The other points are that stationary mediums allow for much more interesting aspect ratios that are not of film dimensions. Of course usually these are set by a publisher or art director, but the freedom to play with vertical compositions and extremely distorted proportions can make the storytelling that much more fun.

Last but not least is that there exists a greater interaction between the art and the viewer. The viewer can go back and forth, skip ahead if so desired, or really dive deep into a singular image. All of these factors and more allow for different needs of the composition than the standard clear read that is required for film because of the length of time on screen of any particular shot.

I hope these help. I've been making good progress on both my children's book and another personal project, but since I don't want to post them until they're finished, I'll try to sneak in another personal sketch or something like that before the new year. Cheers!


  1. Wonderful images , Mauricio, very informative works. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for your comments,really motivates my appetite for painting.

  2. I learned many things from here! Thank you for sharing your great information!

  3. You know what I hate? When they crop off artwork in books in order to look hip and trendy. Why do they deface art that way? That Elvgren book comes to mind.

    Very informative post, my friend.

  4. Great post! This really hits home with me, because my background in sequential.

  5. Hey thanks for sharing this, man. :) all the best with your children book and personal project. Hope to seeing it soon.


Thanks for letting me know what you think :)