Transitioning between scenes/strips

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Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby Crow on Mon May 21, 2012 6:59 pm

I will admit that I plunged in willy-nilly into comic-making. Before that, I was in to fanfic writing, which I think is similar except for the medium used. So I'm hitting the same roadblock I did back then: when to stop a scene and transition to another unrelated one. This is a giant problem if I'm illustrating/narrating a chain of events with a messed-up chronology; some events happen at the same time, and some take place well after the others. With the way I'm doing it, it seems that I make no relation to the said events, and when I build up towards a transition, I can't seem to take my mind off the scene and accidentally run it for longer than it should have. It's easier to pull off when writing because of all the transitional devices (and words) available, but visually, I can't think of any.

Do you have any advice?
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby CMikeNIke on Mon May 21, 2012 7:18 pm

Here's when you switch scenes: when everything that needed to be said and done has been. When all the important stuff is done, move on. Also, try to have the last panel in a setting be one before or one after the end of a page, just so the reader knows for certain that it's supposed to be a different time/place.

As for how to do it, there's a coue ways. Captions saying Meanwhile or Later That Day or what have you all work, but can be a little clunky. Because of the visual nature, try to show the passage of time with visual cues, like different lighting for later in the day with the sun moving, or if someone's smoking a cigarette have there be a couple butts at their feet. You could be as easy as slipping a clock into the background.
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby Harishankar on Mon May 21, 2012 7:26 pm

Do you work off a written script?

I think it's always better to use a script before you put pencil on paper. For a long time, I avoided written scripts, but because I was writing more a gag-a-day format, I could get away with it somewhat. But even then, I have realized that a script from which you can work on is better.

Also, use visual cues to indicate a different plot of the story. For instance, flashback scenes can be monochromatically coloured and softer focussed, and of course, different style of scenery, backgrounds etc to indicate a different subplot.

All that is of course, very tough to achieve in reality. Take it one step at a time. Always begin with the script and work from there.
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby McDuffies on Mon May 21, 2012 8:22 pm

I like captions that indicate shifts in time and place, they seem to be considered passe these days, to me they're integral for comic language. If you have a comic with delicate chronology, maybe captions that just indicate an hour, perhaps a date, would work for you. Like just writing "Monday, 80:00"... that would take a lot of ambiguity out of chronology.

If I don't want a caption, I'll start every scene with an establishing shot. But they always start with a character entering the room anyway, the way I write it.

There are also ways how to indicate the end of the scene. Basically, you want to end a scene on a certain cue that gives it a sort of closure, otherwise it might end up seeming artificially cut short or something. It's sometimes a problem for me to figure out when's the right time to cut the scene, though it's easier when you have a comedy comic so you have a joke to end it with.
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby Crow on Tue May 22, 2012 4:18 am

Thank you for the replies.

@Harishankar: I have a chronological outline of the comic I'm working, although it only lists the events. I make the character reaction/development as I go, which is like running on shaky ground. Again, I'm not sure if what I'm doing is right.

@McDuffies: Would only being in a different place, thus having a different background, be a good enough transition? Last I asked someone, they said it was jarringly abrupt.
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby Harishankar on Tue May 22, 2012 5:01 am

Crow wrote:Thank you for the replies.

@Harishankar: I have a chronological outline of the comic I'm working, although it only lists the events. I make the character reaction/development as I go, which is like running on shaky ground. Again, I'm not sure if what I'm doing is right.

@McDuffies: Would only being in a different place, thus having a different background, be a good enough transition? Last I asked someone, they said it was jarringly abrupt.


I've not done a lengthy story comic yet. Not yet confident of that yet. But, in my experience even in a shorter comic, panel-by-panel description might help. For example, try to describe the scene in the planned panel with words in your outline unless it's just two people facing each other mouthing off dialogue. Also a draft of the dialogues if needed.

I find that simply describing in words is a hell of a lot less work and allows a lot of flexibility than trying to draw first and see if it works later. That's simply laborious unless you're your comic is a test-bed of sorts. Using verbal descriptions might also help you visualize the scene in your mind, helping you plan the illustration.
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby McDuffies on Tue May 22, 2012 5:11 am

If you want to change the scenery, then abrupt change is good, isn't it? I'd even go as far as to switch scenes that contrast each other, like have a darkly lit scene follow a bring one, or have outdoor scene follow an indoor one, or switch one with few details for one with cramped background. If I do the switch in the middle of the page, then I have a page with two contrasting moods fighting each other, which I think is great.
Anyways I don't know, you can always try to draw the scene and see if transition is visible enough, then redraw it if it isn't.
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Re: Transitioning between scenes/strips

Postby Harishankar on Tue May 22, 2012 5:41 am

McDuffies wrote:If you want to change the scenery, then abrupt change is good, isn't it? I'd even go as far as to switch scenes that contrast each other, like have a darkly lit scene follow a bring one, or have outdoor scene follow an indoor one, or switch one with few details for one with cramped background. If I do the switch in the middle of the page, then I have a page with two contrasting moods fighting each other, which I think is great.
Anyways I don't know, you can always try to draw the scene and see if transition is visible enough, then redraw it if it isn't.


While a comic is not a movie, even so, sometimes you have to change abruptly and this happens even in movies. It's all about pacing and build-up. That's why I suggested a written script would help just like screenplay writers do.
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