BalkanMagazin :: How comics are made (9): Framing, ellipse, movement, movement

Framing is the organization of each scene-field in such a way as to highlight the central event or the main object of interest in relation to the dynamics of the narrative. The reader should not look for the center of events or the main protagonist, as in a puzzle, but to see it at first sight.

Therefore, for a comic book author, it is not enough just to be a good cartoonist. This craft also requires a certain cinematic culture that allows the cartoonist to adapt the framing to the specifics of comics as a medium. Unlike cinematography, where the screen always remains the same dimensions, in comics, the surface of the drawing is constantly changing. Each plan stands out with a certain width, height, shape and content, so that all the elements shown in the frame represent the immediate part of the story, while what is outside the frame can be understood as the indirect part of the story.

Horizontal, upright, square, round …

The square frame is most common in comics, because it allows the protagonists to be shown in full height, but also the necessary decor around them. In that way, a very accurate picture of what happened was obtained. In case it occupies more than a quarter of the board, it is usually, for balance, placed in one of the corners and showing the action scene. A smaller frame would make the event unreadable, and a series of frames would upset the balance.

Horizontal frame is used to show scenes in which it is necessary to emphasize the width, stretch, number, so that it usually resembles a movie “cinemascope”. To get the desired effect, it is possible to reduce the height of the frame, or increase the width.

The upright frame emphasizes the height of the fall or the depth of the room (Igor Kordej, “Tarzan Batman – Claws of the Cat-Woman”, left; RM Gera “Konan”, right)

Upright shot is mostly used to show scenes and actions whose event develops in an up-down direction (falls, jumps, climbs, throws, ascents…). A special effect can be obtained with an upright frame that goes the entire height of the board.

Different shots are used during the narration to draw the reader’s attention to some of the details. The shape of such shots can be very diverse, and it is very often drawn within a larger frame, amplifying the dramatic tension of the event. Also, this kind of framing allows the simultaneous display of remote operations in space or time.


Shot in the form of a sniper rifle increases the tension in the shop (Miroljub Milutinović – Brada)

In order to show a larger number of people, objects and decor, the draftsman must distinguish between plans of events, suggest the distance between people and objects, and in that way enable the readability of the drawing. Similar to nature, where people and objects are closest to the eye and the clearest, and further are increasingly obscure, in comics it is necessary to draw the foreground thicker, clearer and clearer than the background. In that way, not only a clearer picture of the event was obtained, but also an impression of depth. It is common, like cinematography, to pay attention to the natural way of seeing people, objects, decor and architecture. We perceive the whole first, and then we focus on some of the details.

An important element of framing is the scene-field frame itself, the meaning of which can be simply reduced to six functions: enclosing, separating, rhythmizing, structuring, expressive function and “reading” function. These functions must be considered in a broader sense, taking into account that each frame has content and that all frames with content make up the composition of the board.

Ellipse or “filled void”

Comics are, like a movie, a medium in which the editing technique is one of the most important elements. Since it is impossible to present all the events in detail, it is necessary to cut the story into full and empty segments, that is, into shown and undisplayed events. Certain parts of the story are visualized on paper, while the imagination of the readers is left to imagine the events between the two frames. “The most important things in comics happen in the narrow whiteness that separates the two pictures,” says Enki Bilal. livelier, and does not keep the reader on unimportant details of action, movement, decor or dialogue.


The ellipse allows you to, within one scene, omit everything that interferes with the rhythm of the action (Željko Pahek, “Astroids”)

The stylistic procedure of the ellipse allows, within one scene, to omit everything that interferes with the rhythm of the action, insofar as it has no significance for the plot. This applies not only to physical and spatial dramaturgy, but also to the psychological and emotional elaboration of characters and events. At the same time, it is necessary to respect the graphic and montage logic so that the mental connection of the two frames would be easily feasible and so that the reader could easily reconstruct the missing part in his imagination.

The montage of the field scene can be from moment to moment, leaving very little temporal and spatial event in the ellipse. Then, a montage from action to action is used, where only important phases of the event are shown, while the rest is left to the imagination and experience of the reader. Montage from plot to plot is a change of focus within the same theme, so that during the ellipse, the reader establishes a logical and cause-and-effect relationship between events. By connecting spatially and temporally distant scenes, the reader in the ellipse through deduction adds an unshown narrative.

It is also possible to mount a field scene through different points of view, so that time is erased in the ellipse and the reader is left to connect different aspects of space, atmosphere or idea. There is a possibility that the scene of the field is mounted without any visible logical and narrative order, which leaves the reader in the ellipse the widest field to supplement what is shown.

The magic of the ellipse is based on the interesting fact that we use all the senses to imagine an unrepresented event, while to interpret the scene of the field that precedes and follows, we use only the sense of sight.


The montage from action to action shows only the important phases of the event, while the rest is left to the imagination and experience of the reader (Vladimir Stankovski)

Movement and directions of movement

The illusion of movement is created in the comic by connecting the scene-field. Most often, the frames that show the movement are seen from the same angle and show the beginning and the end of the movement. If the selection of plans and framing is carefully done, the reader will successfully imagine the whole path that happened between the two scene-fields. Fast movements require a minimum of frames, two for example, while movements that last and are slower can be represented in several frames.

If in a comic a person or object moves through two or more frames, they will usually go from left to right. This direction is natural to the eye, so the dynamics itself will be greater. When the movement of the protagonist or object towards a certain goal is shown, it always takes place in only one direction. In case the cartoonist uses two different angles, the reader will be confused in trying to logically understand the beginning and end of the movement. In this way, hesitation and insecurity are often shown.


If a person or object moves in comics, they will usually go from left to right, because that direction is more natural and dynamic for the eye (Đorđe Milović, “What I’m looking for”)

“The reader should follow the narration easily. There is one important rule – in our countries it is read from left to right. (…) When I show a person running, he usually goes from left to right. This corresponds to the habits of the eye that follows the movement and emphasizes it. , so that the speed from left to right looks higher than from right to left.

Shifting and connecting staff

Connecting the direction of view, in addition to position and movement, is the third condition for good connection of frames within the scene. “In the film, when exchanging glances, the two heroes are in opposite, conflicting positions. When a ramp is established, an imaginary line that connects the heroes and their action through the gazes, the camera always stays on one side of the ramp, both in wider and in larger shots. follows – explains Milan Konjević, Belgrade director – although the ramp is one of the key rules of film narration, it does not have to be blindly respected in comics.

When you watch a movie, the shots change, faster or slower, but the viewer is not so aware of the cuts. It’s different with comics. Although we have shots and editing, reading comics is a more controlled process. You look at the first frame on the board, you see the picture, you read the text, and then you look at the picture again, and until you get to the next scene-field, you don’t have the impression of a film changing frames.

So, the scene can be shown first from one angle, and then from the opposite side. This technique not only breaks the monotony, but also adds a lot of new details to the drawing. At the same time, the reader is allowed to see the expression of the protagonist’s face at certain moments or to raise the tension by not seeing what the protagonist is looking at.


The scene shown from one angle, and then from the opposite side, allows you to see the expression of the protagonist’s face and to raise the tension (Dragan Rokvić, “Sylvia’s break”)

Movement of persons and objects

Unlike cinematography, which uses the imperfections of the human eye to create the illusion of movement, comics use a special narrative technique. Using the connection and montage of frames, the author points out the movement. However, due to the static nature of the iconic signs that make up the comic, graphic symbols, visual onomatopoeias, were introduced, which suggest movement to the reader.

“Speed ​​lines” represent a graphic symbol, more precisely an icon, the movement of air during movement. They start where the person started and end where the person or object is in that phase of movement. In terms of line thickness and intensity, mass and velocity can be interpreted.


Speed ​​lines and stroboscopic effect suggest speed and intensity of movement (Bane Kerac, “Cat Clow”, left; Željko Pahek “Legion of the Impenetrable”, right)

The “stroboscopic effect” is a representation of the movement in several phases, but in one and the same drawing. In this way, the most common excitement, anger, exaggeration are shown. The stroboscopic effect is mostly used in comic comics, while in realistic comics it is used very carefully. It suggests slow motion, a slight transformation, or an unreal atmosphere.

Movement is also suggested through numerous other codes: tracks in snow or mud, dust under a horse’s hooves, a cloud of car exhaust, flickering air from jet turbines… Speed ​​is indicated by a hazy drawing of a car in motion, like a blurry photo of a slow shutter speed. A more subtle approach to movement can be done through the imbalance of composition and arrangement of black and white masses, or through the multiple depiction of the same person in a single scene-field. The suggestion of movement can be done by showing the place of departure in perspective reduction, in the background, and the goal of movement will be shown in the foreground.


The force of movement suggested through the penetration of the composition through the frame (Edi Biuković and Darko Macan, “Grendel Tales”)

The force of the movement is also emphasized through the physical penetration of one of the elements through the line that limits the scene-field. The element can be drawn entirely on white margin, moved to another frame, or cut with the edge of drawing paper.

Source: Balkan Magazin – Aktuelnosti by

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