Design Elements and Principles: Zach Morgan

Both McCloud and Lovett have a similar goal in comics and design, respectively. They both attempt to convey message through visual compositions. McCloud would describe this as trying to make “one sense speak for all five,” meaning allowing the viewer to hear an image, for example. I will examine a page of Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics through a design lens to see how elements of John Lovett’s “Design Overview” are reflected within the panels.


On this page, McCloud shows how each panel has an entirely different feel depending one what visual art is shown. The top left panel is particularly interesting to me because I think that it is a great example of harmony, and how that helps convey its purpose to the viewer. McCloud’s character says, “Can one sense speak for all five,” directly juxtaposed with a very realistic image of a human eye. He then shows examples of how seeing various images can produce responses from your other senses. This exhibits harmony because McCloud never says that he is talking about the one sense being vision, because he knows that the image of the eye paired with his commentary is enough for his audience to follow along. Another aspect shown in these panels is dominance of size, particularly in the one that says, “Quiet.” This panel is dominated by the size of the negative space giving it a still, or uneasy feeling. Value is another element of design that I found prevalent on this page. In the last panel, McCloud conveys the warmth of this image making the image very bright, with very little contrast. Similar to the images of the repair shop, the panel that says, “Warm” feels much more inviting and happier than the panel that says, “Sour.” These are only a few of the design elements and principles shown in McCloud’s book, but they each have on thing in common.


In these comics, the words and images work together in a way that evokes all the senses through only using sight. Not only do each of these panels use sight to represent the other senses, but they are all used in order to evoke an emotional response. In the first panel, you feel like you are having a conversation with the character because he is not overexplaining himself. You feel the sense of uneasiness through the “Quiet” panel, just waiting for something to happen to it. You feel the happiness coming from the brightness of the “Warm” panel. Each of these panels are intentionally composed of various design elements and principles in order to make the viewer feel some type of way.

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