Design Elements and Principles: Patrick Istvan

Page 45 of Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” (Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics, Harper Perennial, 1994, pg 45)

Scott McCloud’s “Understanding Comics” page 45 can be analysed in 3 ways that I find interesting. Firstly McCloud uses direction in his first panel on the page. He does this by having himself depicted standing on top of a globe-like surface that is at an angle from the mid-right of the panel to the bottom left of the panel. In John Lovett’s “Design overview”, he talks about this direction has an emphasis of motion.  When given the context of McClouds text for that panel he could be trying to communicate that the “approaches of comics art” is constantly changing and moving.

Secondly, in the last panel of the page McCloud uses size as a design element. He shows the illustration of himself in much smaller proportion to the “iconic abstraction scale” of a mans face. He does this on purpose to attract the attention of the reader to the scale of the mans face rather than himself. This principle is also outlined by Lovett, where larger items attract more attention when next to smaller items. This principle is valuable for design as it can be used to manipulate the viewers attention to where the designer wants.

Lastly, McCloud uses contrast in two panels when he wishes to talk to the reader more directly. The background is black and the only illustration that stands out is himself with a text bubble. He does this to emphasize what he is saying rather than to illustrate and somewhat transition to his next point. While contrast between the scale of objects is also a form of contrast, contrasting between colors and/or light and dark is also valuable in the same objective. It can bring focus to select aspects of a design. It can also be said that McCloud uses this to transition in a relate able fashion to someone speaking to you and trying to describe something. Where the listeners drifts in and out of directly listening to the speaker and imagining demonstrations of what the speaker is describing.

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