Panelling Manga

Panelling Manga A manga panel refers to the frame that wraps around one moment in time on a manga page. It surrounds one illustration or a drawing, sometimes accompanied by text bubbles to give the illustration voice. Now, there are many ways that a mangaka can present a story. There are also multiple panel styles that he can use.

What is paneling manga or Manga Panel?

:small_blue_diamond:Panels are used in manga to add structure and pace to the story. When creating one, you’re basically creating a frame that will contain the action. While the actual creation is fairly simple, figuring out the best way to contain the move could be a little more demanding

:small_blue_diamond:When thinking about what makes manga distinct from other mediums, I’m sure many of you think about Japanese culture, the fact that it’s read right to the left, how it’s black and white, etc.

:small_blue_diamond:One of the most distinctive aspects of manga is something that I rarely see discussed. Manga paneling is an underappreciated facet that makes manga stand out so much, and I think it’s important that more people know about it.

:small_blue_diamond:Manga, being highly influenced by American comic books after World War II, began their panel-work quite similarly to western comics. At the time, panels were typically rectangular or square. They would be evenly distributed throughout the page with six panels if they were honest or three panels if they were rectangular.

How to panel manga

:small_blue_diamond:Paneling manga or comics is no simple task. But put your mind to work, and you’ll be there in no time! Good luck, mangaka, in training!

:small_blue_diamond:1-Think of what kind of movements your characters will be doing, step by step. In the first stage, plot out four to six boxes on a piece of paper and write your first actions in each package, with the caption under them.

:small_blue_diamond:2-Decide on the angle for each frame. Close-up or background shot? Horizontal or vertical, maybe slanted? How does this affect the scene?

:small_blue_diamond:3- Rewrite the panels on a different sheet of paper and fit them together [for the American manga artist, panel them left-to-right]. If you are leaning towards a traditional format, right-to-left panels are a nice idea. Decide in this part of the process what frames bleed out from the edges, but be careful to keep the important captions and drawings inside a “safe-zone.”

:small_blue_diamond:There doesn’t have to be a gap between boxes like in American Marvel Comics. Usually, each panel’s borders are just thin yet bold black lines. In some cases, the borders of a given panel will be left out entirely. This technique is called ‘bleeding out’ frames.

:small_blue_diamond:4-This process can be done several times until the manga-ka sees the page as fit. After making the perfect page, ink it with inking multi-liner pens [or G-pens, whichever you prefer]. Copic and Pigma are recommended highly.

How to create an authentic manga comic strip?

:small_blue_diamond:Here are some tips to help you draw a manga comic story the Japanese way.

:small_blue_diamond:While the style and finish of manga art are relatively minimalist compared to other types of comics, this apparent simplicity is deceptive. Every line is a choice made by the artist – the thinking is never to use ten strokes to depict something if just a single, well-placed line would suffice.

:small_blue_diamond:This principle of concentrating on the essentials permeates throughout manga art creation. Every panel is an exercise in choice: size, zoom, camera angle, speech bubble positioning, and type of background. Every page works to control the reader’s experience, particularly in pacing.

1-Pace yourself :

:small_blue_diamond:When you’re writing for the manga, remember it flows faster and sparser than other types of comics. It spreads across more pages with fewer panels per page.

:small_blue_diamond:There is variation between the types of manga; Seinen manga, aimed at adult males, will be more densely packed than Shoujo manga, which young girls usually read. But as a guide, aim for a maximum of three speech bubbles per panel, an average of five meetings per page, and around four pages per scene.

2- Consider your reading direction:

:small_blue_diamond:Manga originates from Japan, and the Japanese traditionally read vertically from top-to-bottom before going right to left. So for any manga originally published in Japanese, you start reading from the top right corner and finish in the bottom left.

:small_blue_diamond:If it’s been translated into English, you’ll often find it remains this way. But if you’re writing in English from the start, there’s no need to do this, so it’s up to you! Decide on your reading direction and stick to it.

3-Group your panels:

:small_blue_diamond:Most manga comics have panels of different sizes and shapes that change from page to page. There are no arrows or numbering to guide the reader, so you must group the meetings clearly to make it obvious they must read one bunch of panels before moving on.

:small_blue_diamond:Separate one group from another by increasing the space between the boards (the panel gutter). Then make sure that any small panel gutters inside a group don’t line up with any panel gutters in another group.

4-Explore abstract layouts:

:small_blue_diamond:Manga doesn’t just stick to traditional boxes in rows. It often employs dynamic panel layouts that stretch across the height or width of the whole page, along with diagonal lines and irregular shapes.

:small_blue_diamond:Sometimes boxes aren’t even used at all, with hazy patterns used as outlines, or the character breaks out of the panel. Panels can even fade in and out as part of the storytelling.

:small_blue_diamond:The difficulty is ensuring that regardless of layout, the panel order remains clear. Try reading some manga to find lots more examples to play with.

5- Showcase different viewpoints:

:small_blue_diamond:Manga is known for its cinematic feel. Every panel is like an action movie, where the camera cuts from a close-up of eyes to a two-shot profile of a conversation, to a bird’s-eye view of the characters, then a low-to-high angle as a stiletto heel clicks onto the floor.

:small_blue_diamond:Really make an effort to showcase different camera angles and zooms in your story.

6-Make it dynamic:

:small_blue_diamond:Manga is known for its cinematic feel. Every panel is like an action movie, where the camera cuts from a close-up of eyes to a two-shot profile of a conversation, to a bird’s-eye view of the characters, then a low-to-high angle as a stiletto heel clicks onto the floor.

:small_blue_diamond:Make an effort to showcase different camera angles and zooms in your story.

7- Match background to mood:

:small_blue_diamond:One key difference between manga and other types of comics is the use of abstract backgrounds to match the atmosphere and the emotions of the characters.

:small_blue_diamond:Once the scene has had an establishing shot of the physical surroundings, the backgrounds can be anything: lacework and flowers to signify a budding romance; flames if someone is full of burning rage; black shadows and swirling knots to convey inner turmoil; or cookies and cakes when a character is irresistibly cute! This is particularly popular in Shoujo and Josei manga, aimed at girls and women.

8- Don’t rely on speech bubble tails:

:small_blue_diamond:Japanese people traditionally read top-to-bottom and then right-to-left. To accommodate this, manga speech bubbles are much taller than Western comics. They’re also roomy, with lots of space around the lettering. Another key feature is the tails denoting the speaker – these are either very small or non-existent.

:small_blue_diamond:Rather than relying on seats, the speech bubbles are positioned near the speaker’s head – use those camera angles wisely! Japanese dialogue also tends to clarify who’s speaking due to special verb endings and slang.

9-Get creative with your speech bubbles:

:small_blue_diamond:Speech bubbles in manga are a lot more organic than in other comics. They’re almost always hand-drawn and slightly irregular in shape. Joined speech bubbles are combined rather than linked by a thin line. When one character talks over another, it’s depicted literally, with each speech bubble is overlapping.

:small_blue_diamond:While shouting is depicted with a more conventional spiky outline, thought bubbles aren’t drawn as clouds; they’re often surrounded by a haze, either drawn or made out of screentone.

10-Apply screentone :

:small_blue_diamond:Manga uses screentone as it’s black and white. To do this, start by preparing your line art – it has to be in pure black and white without any greys, so scan at a minimum of 600dpi.

:small_blue_diamond:Then threshold-to-convert every pixel into either black or white. The same must apply to your desired screentone: each pixel must be black or white/transparent.

:small_blue_diamond:Copy then paste the screentone on a layer above the line art, enough to cover the lines and more. If your screentone isn’t transparent, for example, on a white background, then set the layer to Multiply to see the lines underneath.

:small_blue_diamond:Finally, remove unwanted areas of the screentone. There are many ways to do this: you can select with a Lasso/Magic Wand tool and cut, use the Eraser in Pencil mode, or use a Layer Mask with a hard-edged brush with no greys are introduced.

11-Explore screentone effect :

:small_blue_diamond:There are many things you can do with screentone besides just sticking it down for shading. Add white pencil over both lines and screentone for traditional white painted highlights. Try soft, burnished highlights by using an Eraser set to Dissolve.

:small_blue_diamond:Use screentone just over the lines to give the art a blurry feeling. You can increase the contrast in your shadows by layering different screentones on top of each other, but be careful: you may get moiré if you use different densities or align them incorrectly.

12-Use Japanese sound effects :

:small_blue_diamond:Japanese sound effects are incredibly diverse, using consonant and vowel combinations to describe crashes, thumps, and slices. Pronunciations are often more realistic than in English, like ‘roar’ (GA-O-!) or ‘slam’ (pa-tan!).

:small_blue_diamond:What’s unique to Japanese onomatopoeia are sound effects for abstract concepts (‘shiiin’ for a stare or silence), facial expressions ('Nikon for a smile), or even temperature (‘poka poka’ for warmth). They are an integral part of the artwork, so they are hand-drawn at the point of inking in an appropriate style.

13-Add visual grammar:

:small_blue_diamond:Many symbols are used in comics to enhance the viewer’s understanding of what the characters are feeling, like punctuation marks for pictures. Perhaps a love heart to show romantic intentions or a light bulb when someone has a bright idea.

:small_blue_diamond:Manga has some unique examples: a drop of sweat for nervousness or embarrassment, a hash mark on the forehead when someone is angry (mimicking raised veins), and little spirit wisps gathering when someone is feeling depressed.

14-Try out chibi:

:small_blue_diamond:A chibi is a cute, squishy mini-version of a person, squished down to just three to four head lengths tall, with a large head and a chubby body. Shoulders are rounded off, hips are wider, and hands and feet become stubby.

:small_blue_diamond:Although these characteristics are childlike, remember that you’re not drawing a child! An adult chibi should still look like an adult, just highly stylized.
In the manga, characters are often portrayed as chibis when the story takes a lighthearted turn for comic effect.

:small_blue_diamond:Spot all the examples throughout this article!
15- Emphasise emotion with anthropomorphism:
Another popular technique used in the manga is ‘kemonomimi,’ which literally means animal ears.

:small_blue_diamond:For instance, if someone is as sly as a cat, you can draw them with feline features like cat ears and a tail. You can even go further with cat eyes with slit pupils and using the shape of a cat’s mouth.

:small_blue_diamond:Why not draw a disappointed guy as a sad puppy dog? A fierce mother as a dragon? Like chibi, kemonomimi can be used for effect in specific scenes, but it’s also popular as a character design technique for fantasy stories.


The growing interest and influence of Japanese manga (“comics”) in America has inspired comparisons between the properties of the two cultures’ visual systems. Various theories have hinted at the existence of structural variation between these cultures’ books, yet little quantitative data has served to support these claims.

Manga page layout

:small_blue_diamond:A manga page layout can seem complex when you first approach it. Manga is a unique format, and to get the distinctive look that your audience expects, and you need to follow some fairly stringent guidelines. This guide will introduce you to the art of creating professional Manga pages.

What is Manga Page Layout?

  • Manga is a popular type of comic book or graphic novel that originated in Japan but is now being created worldwide. Manga content has unique qualities that separate it from other forms, such as American comic books and anime.

  • Manga is usually done in black and white, in contrast to other comics emphasizing color.

  • In keeping with Asian languages, manga text is read top to bottom and from right to left.

  • The typical manga page template consists of a 2 x 4 grid consisting of 4 rows with two panels. Panels may be of different sizes, but the average page has between 6 and 8 boards.

  • Manga page size can vary. However, a point to keep in mind is that having too many panels with small text and images can make it hard for readers to focus.

How to Design a Manga Page?

:small_blue_diamond:The design of your manga page depends on many factors. Manga is a diverse art form that encompasses many genres and targets different audiences. However, there are certain guidelines to keep in mind for the manga page layout. You’ll find the process easier if you use the following procedure.

Create an Outline

:small_blue_diamond:If you’re confident that you have the manga planned out in your head, you can start with the storyboard. However, an outline can make everything clearer before you begin sketching. This includes:

1-The setting in place and time. It’s helpful to map out the location, whether real or imaginary.

2-The characters who populate the story. Note the appearance of each character.

Create a Storyboard

  • The storyboard consists of rough manga sketches from beginning to end. This provides a general impression of what each page will look like.

  • Working from your outline, decide what will happen to whom in each panel and sketch it out.

  • Remember to number each page as you work.

  • Sketch using chibi characters, which don’t require much detail.

  • Include speech bubbles for each panel. Writing text and sketching can be done together or separately. In other words, you can write out the whole story, or you can draw sketches and create the text for each one before moving on.

Design Tips for Manga Layout

:small_blue_diamond:The following are some tips to keep in mind as you prepare the final draft, also known as your manga’s clean copy.

  • Use feature-rich graphic design software to help you design beautiful and professional pages.

  • Design each page as a composition consisting of multiple panels. If you design boards as a unique composition, it may be hard to place them together on the page later. SMC provides some valuable insights on paneling taken from the work of Hojo sensei

  • Group and space your panels properly. It’s important that readers can understand the sequence so they know which panels to read first. Use sufficient negative space to clarify the flow.

  • Manga panels don’t have to be uniform. Pages can be more interesting when they consist of smaller and larger panels based on the action you’re portraying or the number of characters involved.

  • Keep manga page size in mind. The typical length of modern manga published in the United States is 5 inches x 7.5 inches. If you’re sending your manga to a publisher, they will specify the required dimensions or make their alterations later. If you’re printing and publishing yourself, you have more leeway.

Experiment with Manga Page Layout

:small_blue_diamond:It takes some practice to become accustomed to the format of manga. One of the best ways to learn is by reading and studying plenty of manga to determine what you like and how the creator accomplished it.

:small_blue_diamond:Keep in mind, though, that your goal is to create your style. You can learn and be inspired by others without copying. Be creative and have fun developing your talents in this ever-evolving art form.

Frequently asked questions.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding paneling manga

Q.1 What is paneling manga?

Panels are used in manga to add structure and pace to the story. When creating one, you’re making a frame that will contain the action. While the creation is fairly simple, figuring out the best way to contain the move could be more demanding.

Q.2 How many panels do manga have?

The typical manga page template consists of a 2 x 4 grid consisting of 4 rows with two panels. Panels may be of different sizes, but the average page has between 6 and 8 boards. Manga page size can vary.

Q.3 Why is manga black and white?
Manga artists usually don’t have a lot of staff to help them and sometimes even work alone. Thus, they don’t have enough time (and, not rarely, enough skill) to color their works well because Coloring is completely different from line art. Not all people that can draw good line art can color well, and vice versa.

Q.4 How long does it take to draw a manga panel?
For the average manga, the storyboards are made in 2-3 days, and the drawings are done in 3-4 days, which makes almost a week.

Q.5 What manga has the best panels?
1.) Slam Dunk.
2.) Monster.
3.) Oyasumi Punpun.
4.) Oyasumi Punpun.
5.) Tsugumomo.
6.) Otoyomegatari.
7.) Vagabond.

Q.6 Can a non-Japanese become a mangaka?
Yes, anyone who wants to create manga can become a mangaka, and we have evidence of this.

Q.7 Do you have to be Japanese to make manga?
Yes, anyone can draw manga, just like anyone can make sushi - it isn’t hard, just rice and seaweed plus, etc., but whether you make it as good as the original is another thing. Each country has its style. Korean manga and Chinese manga are very different from Japanese manga.

Q.8 Is manga cheaper in Japan?
Manga is Cheap in Japan!
However, in Japan, they can often be bought brand new for under 500 yen! For those who want to find some even cheaper manga, second-hand book stores are the place to look!

Q.9 What paper should I use for manga?
To draw your mangas, make sure to use high grammage paper, that is, paper that is at least 120 g/m². If you work with a pencil or a felt-tip, paper with grammage ranging between 120 and 180 g/m² will do very well.

Q.10 How many hours do manga artists work?
Working for over 10 hours a day on manga means that you can kiss goodbye to a normal sleeping cycle. Even the most successful creators don’t get time to rest. Eichiro Oda (One Piece) only sleeps for three hours a day, between 2 am and 5 am.


:small_blue_diamond:Summing up, there are tons of ways one can draw mangas and use various types of panels. Paneling in a manga is equally important as other aspects, and it is the most basic skill a mangaka should develop if they dream of achieving greatness in the industry.

:small_blue_diamond:One could say that panels are the vessel that contains your imagination, though I believe that one’s imagination should know no bounds. Still, while presenting your creative art, boundaries are the most important. It is those boundaries that touch the reader through the pages you draw.

:small_blue_diamond:Thus containing your imagination as a mangaka and choosing the perfect panels for your manga is one of the most important skills you should develop for your arm.

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