MangaManga Paneling Guide - Shapes, Sizes, Purposes, & More

Manga Paneling Guide – Shapes, Sizes, Purposes, & More

Creating a manga is much more complex than doodling on a blank white page. Before drawing a single dot, a mangaka needs to outline their story, decide how they’ll present it, and even choose what point of view to present to the reader.

The shading, lining, coloring, dialogue- everything comes second.

But, manga paneling makes that a bit less daunting.

With the page divided into sections, a mangaka can easily and evenly spread out a scene in a manner that would be easier for a reader to understand and read.

So, in this guide, I’ll share some manga paneling tips that’ll help you plan your manga page more efficiently. Let’s get started!

Manga Panel 101 – Basics Of Manga Paneling

Here’s the most basic definition of a manga panel.

A manga panel is a bordered section of a manga page and it represents a single moment/action on the page. Think of it as a single frame of the anime.

Below is the most common example of a panel layout used in western comics as well as manga, manhwa, and manhua.

basics of manga paneling design

That’s a 2×3 grid

It has 6 panels, which means you can draw out 6 frames/actions/moments of the story on this manga page.

With content filled in, this layout will look something like this.

manga panel with contents

This is the most basic manga panel layout. While it does serve the purpose of story-telling, it’s hard to emotionalize or emphasize a moment while using this bland layout.

So, while this is good for quick story progression, it doesn’t capture the reader.

To do that, a mangaka needs to play around with panels, make them stand out, and attract the reader. And at the same time, different manga panels serve different purposes. And here are the basic ones that you need to know. 

1. Square and Rectangular Manga Paneling

As I said earlier, square panels are the most basic ones. They get the job done, but with limitations. So, manga authors started accompanying these square panels with rectangular panels.

The purpose of rectangular panels? Bring something into the limelight.

Mangakas started using rectangular panels to highlight the important moments of a scene, with something not-so-important drawn in a tiny square panel on the side.

This is what a manga page with basic square and rectangular panels looks like.

manga page with basic squares

And over time, these straight square and rectangular panels got slanted- just to add a bit more flair!

manga square and rectangular panels for slanted square

In short, move on from the basic square layout and try out unique manga panel layouts to make your manga page pop!

Next up is the orientation of the rectangular panels.

2. Vertical and Horizontal Rectangular Panels

There are two orientations of a rectangular manga panel- it can be vertical, like this one:

manga vertical and horizontal rectangular panels

Or they can be horizontal like this one:

horizontal manga panels

And both are important in their own right.

Mangakas can showcase full-body shots of their characters using vertical manga panels. Some also call these the Character Introduction Panels.

Here’s Koyoharu Gotouge using a vertical panel to give the readers a full look at Nezuko Kamado.

character introduction panel

On the other hand, horizontal panels allow the creators to present a panoramic view to the reader. Whenever there are plenty of characters in a frame, a horizontal rectangular panel is the best option to make sure everyone fits in.

For example, the following is a horizontal panel from One Piece. It has all 6 of the main Straw Hat Crew sending a silent message to Princess Vivi.

horizontal panel from one piece

Moreover, these are also used to draw a detailed background and give a better view of the world to the reader.

When used to good effect, square and rectangular panels come together to complete the bigger picture.

Here’s a beautiful example of using a vertical and horizontal rectangle as well as a square panel on the same page to bring a face-off to life.

vertical and horizontal rectangle panel

The horizontal panel on the top shows the scene from a distance. And a close-up of the face-off is shown in a vertical panel. And 2 square panels are used beautifully for character closeups. 

3. Full & Double Page Spreads

To finish up the guide, I’ll introduce you to Full & Double Page Spreads.

These are high-impact panels that bring emphasis to a scene because they take up the whole page. Again, it’s easier to understand with an example.

Below is a page from the One Punch Man manga.

page from the one punch man manga

It’s one of the most important manga pages on One Punch Man as it reveals the strict training Saitama did to get his insane power. 

So, Yusuke Murata draws Saitama’s determined face on the whole page and puts the other characters in tiny boxes underneath- a great example of full-page spreads and the purpose they serve.

Lastly are the double-page spreads- a single frame expanding on two adjoining pages. These are perfect for action scenes, character gatherings, world-building, and world showcasing- like this double-page spread from Attack on Titan.

double-page spread from attack on titan manga

It shows Attack Titan fighting Armored Titan and gives us a look at the world of Attack of Titan as well. 

That brings my manga paneling guide to an end.

While paneling a manga solely depends on the creator, following these blueprints can make it easier for the creator to plan out the pages. And since it brings a proper structure to the manga, the readers can better follow the story.

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