5 decisions that will give your comic book clarity

In the following article, we will unveil 5 decisions that will give clarity to your comic. It is mainly based on 5 fundamental choices to achieve the desired clarity in your creation.

Pay attention, read it and reread it a thousand times, this way, you will be sure when making decisions for your Comic. Continue reading!

Why is it important to make the right decisions?

Reading comics, one of the most beautiful activities in life, isn’t it? Their pages flow and captivate us for hours, but this would not be possible without the magic of those who make those comics.

They have a story to tell us and they do it in the best possible way, without any obstacles interrupting our imagination.

Comic artists are very clear that when they draw their stories, they need readers to understand what they have to tell them.

Today we are going to bring you the best tips from the great Scott McCloud to persuade your audience and tell your story in the clearest way possible. Pay attention!

The 5 choices you need to make

There are five basic types of choices to make to make your comic read clearly:

  1. Choice of timing.

One of the most important things to keep in mind for your comic to be clear is to choose the right moments that represent the plot of your story in the most direct and effective way.

Look at the following sequence, a young man jumps into a pool full of acid, comes out deformed, while a group of people at a party cheer him and finally two girls start thinking about jumping into that same toxic pool.

It’s a strange sequence, isn’t it? Let’s see how we can represent it:

5 decisiones que otorgaran claridad a tu comic

First, we use a vignette to show the fall into a liquid surface. In the second vignette, we show the young man who had jumped in. In the third, we see that where he had jumped into was a pool. He himself comes out, we see the party and people cheering him on.

In the final vignette, a young girl asks another girl if she dares to do something, and in the background, we see the deformed boy.

Thus, the whole sequence could be shown in only 4 vignettes.

If we had wanted to, we could have chosen to lengthen the sequence by adding more vignettes to divide the events, for example, using one for the boy getting out of the pool, and another to show the people around him. However, in a single vignette we were able to present that moment more directly and effectively.

Choice of moment = Comic planning stage

The choice of the moment you are going to show in each of your vignettes is part of the planning stage of our comic.

Think that each one of them should advance the plot.

Try removing one of the vignettes from a comic sequence, and its meaning will be altered. Think of each one as an irreplaceable piece of a puzzle, and discard those that don’t contribute something to your story.

Remember the six transitions between vignettes we told you about in a previous post? McCloud explains that each of them can help you choose the right moments in your vignettes, depending on what you require in different parts of your narrative.

Transitions like scene-to-scene, for example, can help you compress your story and show moments that are far apart in time and space.

Conversely, if you use moment-to-moment transitions, you can slow down the action and increase suspense by showing certain small changes in the action.

2. Choice of framing

Once you have chosen the right moments to show your plot, you have to decide what is the right view of those moments.

Think about where the focus of each moment is by choosing the framing. You can zoom in on an action and show the necessary details, or zoom out and make it clear where it is happening.


Consider angles and distances between moments.

In the first vignette of our sequence, we chose to focus on the most important thing in that moment: the acid splash in the sink, although we could have shown all the context surrounding that action.

As we knew that later on we would have to show the pool and the people, we decided to cut out a single sector of the pool, which shows the essence of what is happening at that moment.

Keep in mind that angles can be used to give different sensations. In this way, you can communicate power relations, if we see a character from below or from above. Playing with distances, on the other hand, can help us to generate a spatial sensation.

A moment can be shown from different angles and distances. You can vary them as much as you want, but make sure not to distract the reader from what is happening in that sequence.

Last but not least, don’t forget to think about the image composition of your vignettes, in which you can choose what to center and what to off-center… That sounds like a lot? We’ve just started!

3. Choosing the image

When you have planned and chosen how to frame your moments, you must decide how you are going to represent them in images through drawing.

You need to be specific in your drawing, and incorporate real-life details for clarity.

But being specific doesn’t mean that your drawing just has to be pretty. Depending on what you want to show, you have to think and decide how the postures and expressions of your characters will be, how abstract your drawings will be, and what aesthetics they will have.

These kinds of questions will help you to communicate more clearly the emotions, tones and important events of your comic.

secuencia para claridad en comic

To depict our deformed character, we had to decide what aesthetic he was going to have. As you can see, The Sequence has a grotesque tone, which perhaps could not be represented if our style tends to realism, as in the third face we sketched here.

It was necessary to pay attention to details of reality, such as the character’s hair being wet if it is coming out of a liquid surface.

The sequence would lose clarity if the character had dry hair as in the second face we sketched here. Besides, we had to think about the most appropriate expression for that moment of madness, when the young man comes out of the acid.

The choice of the image is as important as the choice of the word.

4. Choice of words

No doubt there have been times when you have wondered if you need to add words to your vignettes. Sometimes words can be used to compress a story and summarize moments in a few bullet points.

Therefore, words and pictures in a comic book have to work together and be integrated so that readers don’t notice the changes from one to the other.

While it is true that words have a high level of specificity that can help us attribute certain meanings to images that stand alone, they would not be able to communicate them effectively.

For example, we would not understand what the characters in the final vignette of our sequence are doing without using a dialogue balloon to tell us something in relation to what was going on.

secuencia 1 comic
secuencia 2 comic

There are things that cannot be done with drawings alone.

Always keep in mind that when a drawing is the best solution, you must get the words out of the way.

In our third vignette, in this case, there would be no need to add any text. If the character were explaining what we are already seeing, it would sound redundant and unconvincing.

5 decisiones que otorgaran claridad a tu comic

The flow of your Comic will be very important to know how to lead the reader correctly.

5. Choice of flow

For the reader to enjoy your comic 100%, you must think about how to lead him from the beginning to the end.

As you already know, there is an unspoken contract (in the West) in which the vignettes are read from left to right and from top to bottom. Within each one, the same thing happens in the different types of texts.

Pay attention, and spot the parts of your creative process that might hinder this flow. Make sure your page layout serves your story, and that your bullet point compositions lead the reader in the right direction.

If we walk through our sequence, we see that the placement of elements contributes to narrative flow.

The placement of the onomatopoeias and dialogue does not hinder the reading, it even facilitates it, by clarifying each moment of the sequence, for example, in the fourth vignette, from left to right and from top to bottom, first we see the girl, then we read “Do you dare?” and then, we see the deformed boy.

Finally, the silhouette of the person who is listening to the girl. In this way, our brain, quickly associates the elements and concludes in order, a girl asks if she dares to do the same as the boy did, and another person, listens to her.

comic y viñetas

As we said, framing and angles can also generate confusion, so try to avoid excessive complexity!

As you gain experience, you will be able to predict what readers will pay attention to in each vignette and use it to your advantage. Think about where you will make the focus of your sequences so as not to hinder the reading of your comic.

Choosing wisely on these issues will help you improve the flow of your comic to keep the reader in your story, and not pull them out into the outside world!


The decisions mentioned during the article will make it much easier for you to give clarity to your comic, they are all important and helpful.

Therefore, these are the main choices that, according to McCloud, you should always keep in mind when making your comics. It is not necessary to take them in this order: some may work before others, or at the same time. We invite you to combine the five choices and communicate your stories like a pro!

Bibliography: Scott McCloud, Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels. William Morrow Paperbacks, 2006.

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