So far, if you’re joining late, we’ve covered Creating Panel Borders and breaking out of the panel borders.
Today we’re going to cover overlapping panel borders, when you might want to do stuff like this:
All the artwork is taken from the Dept of Monsterology, book 2: Sabbaticals (available to buy online from comixology UK or US (or any other region in fact) or you may be able to pick up book 1 and book 2 from your local comic shop, amazon or from the publisher. (or from me if you spot me at a comic convention).
Ok, enough plugging, let’s talk some basics…
When you create panel borders, Manga Studio (or Clip Studio Paint – both software are identical) is trying to do two things: create a mask to hide anything in the gutter (that bit between the panels) and draw a border on top of the panels. Overlapping panel borders introduce a touch of complexity to this, and so in order to deal with it, MS – unbeknownst to the user- keeps a special secret log of which panel border is to be drawn first. This isn’t the same as reading order, so, for example, depending on how you draw the panel borders Manga Studio may internalise them in the following order:
I know what you’re thinking… you’re thinking “WTF PJ???”. Ok, so here’s what’s going on: Manga Studio’s order reflects the order the panels where created in. Using the “Divide Frame Folder”/”Divide Frame Bolder” tools split a single panel into two (or in fact, multiple panels can be split) and this causes a numbering that makes sense to the computer but doesn’t make much sense to you as a reader.
The order is important though, because it dicatates how panels will be drawn when they overlap.
The higher the number in this diagram represents the closes to the top. So, dragging Panel 6 (as I’ve numbered it, rather than the panel six you’d expect being a human) over the other panels results in Panel 6 sitting on top, like so..
This is exactly the sort of thing you want and expect…
But, say, I want PANEL 5 to be on top of Panel six, simply dragging the bounds of panel five does this:
Now, as an artist this isn’t what I wanted, I wanted panel 5 to be on top of panel six, and actually, I wanted panels 3 and 4 to sit on top of panel 5 to, but as a computer, panel 5 doesn’t represent the order it’s read in, rather it represents the order it draws the panel in, so panel 5 is sitting EXACTLY where a computer would expect it to be.
So, how do we fix this. Well, easy, we simply go to “LAYER->Panel Order->Move Panel Back” .. HAH! April fools! Nope, there is no easy way. Unlike other apps that have faced similar problems (for example, Powerpoint) there’s no apparent way to reorder the panel order. You’re faced with a few, slightly unsatisfying options…
- Redraw the panels, remembering to draw them in the order YOU want them.. (so in this instance, I’d want panel 5 to be drawn …uhm… no wait, I’d have to redraw panel 6 as the second panel, then uhm… panel 5 could become the third panel? oh hell, this is too complicated…)
- Give up trying to do something that manga studio doesn’t play nice with and just rejig your panels in such a way that this isn’t a pain (an option I’ve done more than once…)
- Slightly easier… you can use a trick.
(UPDATED! 14 Oct 2016 – the new trick, below, is so much easier than the old trick – which I’ve since deleted…)
Select the panel you want to move to the TOP, then CUT the panel (using the usual CMD+X shortcut) then paste the panel back in (CMD+V) and voila! You’ve moved that panel to the front…
Performing the same trick on panels 3 & 4 (which I’ll not bother doing step by step because it’s basically the same trick as above…)
Until you end up with:
Now I’ve kept those panel numbers to keep this as simple as possible (and I apologise profusely because it’s probably confusing as all get out as it is!) but MS is probably redrawing these in this order now:
This little trick for jumping a panel border to the front really only works well on rectangular panels that can be joined together easily, odd shapes will do odd things, and there’s no easy way to send a panel to the back (except, perhaps, by moving every other panel to the front). And even if you don’t end up using the tricks I’ve shown here, hopefully why Manga Studio draws overlapping panels in the way it does should make more sense.
Obviously, If I wanted now to draw a nice circular panel, it would become panel 7 and sit on top of everything… like so…
Tomorrow I slow it down a little and show you how to split a single panel into several equal sized panels (NINE PANEL GRID EVERYONE! YEEHA!)