Before we begin laying out panels, it’s good to have an idea of how your story will be presented before you create your panels. This is called storyboarding which is basically a rough comic representing a sequence of events and is often done for films, games, and ads to name a few.
I suggest you quickly sketch out how you will “tell” your story right now if you haven’t done so already. If not, you may end up revising your work too many times and ultimately loose time and patience.
Pages may be laid out from simple boxed panels to more complex hexagonally-shaped panels and floating panels. Check out manga’s to see a variety of paneling styles. Pick which one will work best with your comic and stick to it throughout your story for a uniform look.
To start creating panels, you first have to create a new layer. Go to your Layer Palette and click on the icon next to the percent and right arrow as shown to the left.
Once clicked, it will open up a new window as pictured below. Rename the layer appropriately — I’ve named mine “Panel Layer” – and then under Layer Type, choose Panel Ruler Layer. This will bring you back to your page. At first glance, you may not have noticed any changes but if you click the Undo and Redo buttons on your History Palette, you will see that there is a difference, though slight.
There is now a crosshair, the plus sign, in the middle of the page plus the border for the page should now be a thicker blue. Also, if you look in your Layers Palette, your new panel layer should now be listed.
Click on your panel layer to activate it. You will see it become highlighted and a pen icon should now appear next to the eye. This means that you are currently working on that layer and it is ready to be modified.
If you are unfamiliar with layers, think of it as several sheets of transparent paper stacked one on top of the other. Each layer builds upon the layer above and below it to create a complete image. For example, the lowest layer is the original pencil sketch, with the finer pen lines in the middle layer and finished with some tones up top.
The neat thing about this is that if you work on one layer, it will not affect the rest! Of course, if you forget to click on the appropriate panel you meant to work on, it can cause some problems. For cases such as this, you can do several things:
1. Use the Undo button in your History Palette
2. Copy the layer by right-clicking on it and choosing Duplicate Layer, and/or
3. Save your work continuously and under several file names
If none of those work, then you’ll have to start your layer from scratch. Now that you know about layers, let’s start making panels!
The first thing you have to do is click on the button that looks like a ripped page in your Tools Palette. This is called the Panel Ruler Cutter. Now, all you have to do is move your mouse over the page. “Drag and drop” from one end of the large panel to the other. As you are dragging and dropping, you will see a thin black line emerge. This is to gauge the straightness of the cut being made. In other words, if you see jagged edges, the cut will not be straight.
When you let go of the mouse button, Manga Studio will automatically cut the large panel over the area you drew the black line. Keep redoing the process until you get the panel layout that you want.
If you’re having problems creating the panels, make sure the black line begins on the blue line and ends on a blue line or else it will not be detected by Manga Studio.
On the image below, we have one panel that was done correctly but for the bottom half, it will not split into two. If you look closely, the black line does not meet the bottom blue line. If the mouse button was released now, Manga Studio will not recognize the command and the panel will remain as-is.
Tip: If you are unsure about how you will lay out your page, you can create duplicates of your panel layout. All you have to do is right click on the current panel you want a copy of and click on Duplicates. This will create an exact replica of the panels you did.
To the right is an example of duplicates. The original was named Panel Layer while the new layer was renamed to New Layer. You can do this trick to any other layer that you want to see in different ways and choose the one that you like best.