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Old 12-27-2017, 10:09 AM   #1
D.red
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Quick layout question.

I recently got picked up on the way I laid out a panel. I was hoping I could run it by you folks.

I always tend to lay panels out with the first speaker on the left, or on the odd occasion at the top. There’s usually a way to do it without breaking the 180 degree rule but if not, the first speaker rule outranks the 180 rule. To my mind anyway.

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to alter a panel of three characters because I had put the ‘only’ speaker on the right of the panel.

This was the third panel in an average 5 panel ‘Z’ formatted page. The action travelled from top right to bottom left before leading you across the bottom of the page and out.

Panel 2 the character in question was the 3rd speaker, panel 3 she was the only speaker and panel 4 the 3rd speaker again. I placed her on the right on all 3 panels.

By way of a compromise we agreed on removing the none speakers from the panel all together. Problem solved for now but I know this is going to come up again and would really appreciate some new opinions on the matter.

What do you folks think? First speaker on the left is a given but where do you stand on an only speaker on the left rule?

Thanks very much for your help.
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Old 12-27-2017, 12:27 PM   #2
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I can't really post the page but maybe this sketch will help.

Is Panel 3 wrong? I'm not sure.

Obviously the editor can have what he likes. It's his book after all but as a rule I'm still not sure. My instinct is to keep it in mind but only if it doesn't clash with other things.

What do you think?

Thanks again.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...pscjvqplxw.jpg

Last edited by paul brian deberry; 12-27-2017 at 10:20 PM.
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Old 12-27-2017, 02:46 PM   #3
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How the 180 degree rule work:

WE must imagine a vertical line dividing each panel in the page in two areas, left and right. At the left goes the character that start speaking, character A, to the right goes character B.
No matter what camera angle or POV we are using for the shot. No matter how the panels composition is working on the page.
The characters would never trespass this vertical dividing line. Character/s who did start at the left should stay at the left. Characters at the right should stay at the right on every panel. For the whole scene or sequence.
For reversing this order ( IF it is needed for creating an effect or if characters are changing positions in the scene.) THE CHARACTER SPEAKING can be centered previously of physically crossing/ jumping the middle of that imaginary line on the panel.
Then we can switch positions, by placing character B to the left and A to the right.

This same principle works on film. Actually, this rule is coming from camera movement work. Where camera is rotating around characters from left to right.
Otherwise, characters would be jumping from right to left along different shots.
To prove this, we can trace or make a vertical dividing line with tape on the middle of your TV screen. Dividing it in two areas left and right.
Characters would never trespass to the opposite area. Unless any of them becomes centered in a special shot first.
That's all!

Last edited by Scribbly; 12-29-2017 at 09:21 AM.
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:27 PM   #4
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I'm not an artist. I do letter a bit. (here comes the butt.) Shouldn't the speaker be the main focus of the shot. Doesn't matter where they are, long as the focus is on them. There could be a panel full of people and pair of dino's photobombing. The dude talking should immediately draw your eye.

You can also use Deviantart.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:36 AM   #5
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Scribbly's explanation is spot-on. The rule also applies when the second character isn't speaking and is only reacting to the first character's line, in which case the speaker would still have to be placed on the left.

In Panel 3 of the example you posted, if the two characters in the background are supposed to be listening/reacting to what the knight is saying (that's what it looks like, since in the next panel the background characters are speaking first) then, yeah, I can see why your editor took issue with it.

During scripting, writers don't leave character positioning notes unless it's something that's very specifically needed. In fact, some artist'll tear us a new one for interfering with their process if we do something like that for every conversation panel (To be clear: I'm not judging - it's usually easier to leave this to the creative freedom of the artist to get the best results). Point is, the 180 rule is something you have to keep in mind when 'framing' the scene in the panel description.

As mentioned above you can break it for dramatic effect, or - and this one doesn't usually appear in comics but still - for the one very common exception to the rule - the tracking shot.

Tracking shots or long takes are sequences in which the camera does not cut (think Alejandro Iñárritu, Birdman, the opening and credit sequence of Serenity, that ghetto raid scene from True Detective, etc. etc.)

Tracking shots are sometimes emulated in comics in two ways: One, by keeping the angle and position of the view/camera the exact same while the characters move around, or, less commonly and more difficultly, by keeping the camera at the same angle relative to a specific character and "following" them. I remember Brian Bendis wrote one of these in Sam and Twitch, with an entire single-issue story shown from the POV of a character, with several such panel sequences.

Aside from specific circumstances like that, yeah, the 180 rule is the law. When broken without reason, it may not appear obvious, but it will interrupt the flow of a scene and readers will notice, even though they might not be able to put their finger on why something seems off.

Hope that helped.
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