View Full Version : How to draw backwards/reverse movement?

02-10-2017, 08:03 AM

So me and my friend are making a graphic novel that has time travel in it. And some of the scenes that I wrote have things moving backward or in reverse. Like birds flying in reverse, or someone is crying in reverse.

My friend is having problems with how to draw and show the movement of something in reverse. Would it be a better idea to take anything like this out, or is there a way? Specifically a way to show it more visually, rather than give text indicators. Thanks!

02-10-2017, 09:23 AM
phew. thats a good question.

if you have room for the panels, using a 9 panel grid to really show reverse progression. small visual increments as if you were animating it.

short version, have something in frame that visually shows time movement better then whatever is being featured. Obvious, is a clock, or time dial. Think "the time machine"


Motion blurs are in your head. So technically, a motion blur would visually reversed. Like a baseball being hit by a bat, would have a blur from the bat to the ball's impact. But, in reverse, the eye would see the blur opposite, the ball bluring towards the bat. But, would anyone READ that as that, seeing it on page? probably not.

02-10-2017, 12:09 PM
To show time in comics you need at least two panels. The easiest way to show time in reverse would just to be drawing the sequence out in normal order, then just reverse the order of the panels (cut and paste essentially). This would be a way to do crying in reverse.

An alternate way to show reverse motion in a single panel would just be to use motion lines, but put them on the wrong side of the object. Example if you wanted to show the Flash running in reverse you put all the ghosted images in front of him rather than behind him.

Another option is to use objects/actions that clearly show things going in reverse just using logic, e.g. a broken cup and spilt drink becomes an unbroken cup, rubble becomes a building, etc.

02-10-2017, 05:38 PM
As suggested above:
-Motion lines / ghosted images (single panel)
-Moment to moment (multiple panels)
-Non-sequitur / metaphor (broken cup becoming whole)

Some additional suggestions:

-You can also use dialogue or captions (Look at Robert McGuire's "Here", uses captions to clarify odd abrupt time shifting)

-Invent some other visual cue (color change, style change, panel shape change), you will have to reinforce it with one of the above techniques the first couple times, but it should be a very clear cue after that. For example "Sex Criminals" uses a colorful glowy overlay to signify that time has stopped.

Or use some combination of the above. Braid the video game uses a color shift and motion lines (with music as well).

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1sDImhbykvE/TB-zgbmNcgI/AAAAAAAAlVA/Mej-Bmq5Exc/s1600/HAWKMAN_Brendan+Tobin+finishing+JACK+KIRBY_Inked.P NG





Lee Nordling
02-11-2017, 01:08 AM
There are a LOT of ways to do this, the closest that would be immediately apparent to a reader in a panel is the Superman cover, but with a modification I've seen before, but can't recall where.

First, show the progression (or regression) of images, like the cover noted.

Next, show the CURRENT version with full values of color (or solid black), and show lesser values of color (lighter) or black (gray) progressively to the starting place of the first image.

The reader's eye will immediately identify the image with the greatest value or darkness as the one that is NOW, and the others as the previous ones.

So if a character is going back in time, the most recent version is the lightest and the farthest back version is darkest.

Oh, and this can be done in one panel. Doesn't have to be, but can be.

Know the tools; use the tools.

02-11-2017, 09:52 AM
Show a progression of action in three panels. Invert the order on first and last panel. And so on.

02-11-2017, 10:03 AM
Thank you guys so much! This has been very helpful and educational. I made my artist read all this, and she has a much better understanding now of how to draw things in reverse. The visual references really helped. Thank you!

Stewart Vernon
02-20-2017, 05:40 AM
You can also use some creativity in your sound effects, if you have any... mirroring them, for instance, so that they go in reverse along with your backwards motion.