sma21 swa1 sma21

Manga S.O.S. #3 – Making a SPLASH with composition!

Enrico Croce Enrico Croce 22/11/2018 7 min read
Hello and welcome back guys!  It’s been an age since the last MANGA S.O.S. article but fear not, eager readers, as we’re back! For you newcomers out there, this series of articles aims to shine a light on the workings of manga; how manga is made and the ingredients needed to make your SILENT MANGA AUDITION® entry stand out!  Today, we will take a look at a feature of manga that is both impactful and vital to dynamic storytelling…


In the age of the Creative Suite, drawing the “analogue” way may seem outdated to a lot of you. But for the purposes of this article, I’d like to walk you through the methods of the manga stars of old, drawing directly onto paper!! The splash page, or “two-page spread”, is when a manga creator utilizes two pages to depict an important scene. Take a look at Hara-sensei’s spectacular showdown between Kenshiro and Falco, for a pitch perfect example ↓   As an editor at SMAC!, a common query I hear from mangaka is how to best create a two-page spread. It may seem easy, effortless in fact, but the planning, composition and execution of creating a splash page is tricky for even the most seasoned pros!  During the judging of SMA9, Hara-sensei reminded us that, “The ability to correctly compose a double page spread, is as important as single page composition when directing good manga.”  As you may know, a page of manga manuscript paper contains a complex series of blue lines and measurements. So let us take a closer look…  1. The large blank space, made up of dotted lines in the centre of the page is where you draw your manga panels! The six smaller boxes aligned with the dotted “panel area”, is where the page numbers go (the placing of the page numbers depends on the publisher).   2. The large margin around the panel area is known as the “Safe Zone”. Make sure not to fill this area with speech bubbles or vital details as you want your readers to be focused on the centre of the page.  3. The thin margin surrounding the safe zone, is the “trim line” or…. “THE DANGER ZONE!!” This is where the printer trims the page for publication. So if you don’t want any vital details of your manga to end up in the recycling, make sure to stay away from this margin!  4. Finally, we have the number margin. This is a handy tool to ensure your panels are perfectly straight. Again, this will go the way of the trim line when printed.    But we need to draw a SPLASH PAGE! With all these danger zones on the manuscript paper, how can we draw our pivotal scene without it being sliced in half?!  Well, the solution is as simple as “cutting the margins off one side and temporarily fixing it to the other page, which will expand the panel area.”  The “Nodo” (litt. the Throat) are the edges of the page that feed into the spine. So be aware when drawing your scene, that details in the “nodo” may not be clearly seen…  

The “Nodo”

  Now the double page spread is ready to be graced with your action packed, pivotal scene!  When you’ve completed your splash page, “unfix” the pages for ease of placing the finished manuscript in the envelope, ready for posting to you eager editor!  In this digital age, the “art” of drawing directly onto paper with pen and ink is becoming less used, especially in the wake of more sophisticated software and hardware. But like the printed word, there still is a huge demand for making manga the “old fashioned way!” No matter how easy, or time saving drawing digitally is, we recommend you still become familiar with this way of making manga as it will help you further develop your composition skills.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this “old school” edition of MANGA S.O.S…. Happy drawing!  CIAO !!
  FOLLOW ME for more Kakimoji and manga tips! Twitter Facebook …and remember to use the hashtag #mangasos 😉
Enrico Croce

Enrico Croce