techniques and secrets of Arsenic Lullaby


Here’s a breakdown of using some unordinary techniques for keeping the left to right top to bottom flow of a comic book page, as well as a few tips on vanishing points.

Here is an example of a thumbnail sketch for a one page gag for Arsenic Lullaby. take a quick look and then i will break down why i did what


Panel one is a straight shot, an armature may use one vanishing point right in the middle and that is fine but tends to make the viewer feel suffocated and the eye feel forced into the center.  I used two vanishing points just a bit apart so that the vanishing points of left buildings and right buildings criss cross over the figure.  This puts the focus on the figure without the composition feeling forced.  Also the direction the figure is headed triangulated with the vanishing points puts the viewer at the bottom right …leading them into the next panel.  If there was one vanishing point the viewer would feel centered on the bottom of the panel and harm the left to right flow.


Panel 2 is fairly straight forward. A bird’s eye view combined with the implied lines of the street and sidewalk place the reader in the bottom left corner.  It is a smooth transition from the first panel and easy flow into the third panel below it.

Panel 3- again straight forward use of implied line working together with where the figure is looking. Much like with magicians on stage, the audience will look in the direction that he is looking.  This combines to send the viewer into the 4th panel.

Panel 4- this is an example of sacrifice.  I want the natural flow from panel 3 to 4, the important element is the buildings and the smoke. That important info supersedes flow so I will do my best when inking to have the billowing smoke and path to the top of the mountain draw the reader down into the lower panel. For good measure I will stick the side of a building in the far right and give it a nice thick line in hopes that it will block off the eye and stop the vanishing points from leading it off the page.  Best case scenario though will be the viewer stopping and dwelling on this panel longer than the others. I will keep this in mind and arrange some of the more poignant narration here to use that pause for some dramatic effect.

Panel 5 – this one is easy…maybe too easy.  The implied lines and implied motion of the people being herded are going to move the reader right in and out of that panel.  Too many words here will seem forced.

Panel 6- another struggle with this one and opportunity to use the pause for dramatic effect. The sloping grade of the ground and pathway to the building will help to place the viewer into the lower panel and help flow.  I will also try to use the clouds to guide the eye down and possibly stick a industrial drum or front of a truck  with a thick line to block the eye from being lead off the page by the vanishing points.

Panel 7- well doesn’t get much easier than this.  The important info here is the billowing smoke.  Have the smoke go left to right and you easily lead the eye into the last panel.

Panel 8- this panel is the punch line so it’s blocked off for now and irrelevant as far as our discussion here. Some people use this panel to lead the eye off the page into the next page, some people use it to send the reader back…and some people have no clue what they are doing and have not considered anything other than how big to draw the tits…David Mack I’m looking in your direction.