Direction Movement of an Object in a Comic

Are you going the wrong way? Let me point you in the right direction with a tutorial about direction movement of an object in a comic. I will be referring to Western comics, which are read from left to right. Eastern/Manga comics are read from right to left, so this could be applicable if you flip the direction of things.

The natural movement of viewers is to scan images from left to right. Viewers perceive this as a direction which advances a story. When an object moves from left to right, it conveys the message of progression, development, moving forward in time and normality. The object appears to move toward a goal.

An example of an object moving left to right direction.
An example of an object moving left to right direction.

When an object moves from right to left, it conveys a message that the object is retreating, returning back in time. The object appears to move toward a former starting place/returning home.

An example of an object moving right to left direction.
An example of an object moving right to left direction.

There have been instances when I’ve seen amateur artists who do not consider a moving object’s direction. They place an object moving from right to left in multiple panels, when it would be better for them to flip the object’s direction. A viewer’s eyes naturally move to the right, but when the action forces a viewer’s eyes to go the opposite way, it disrupts the viewer’s regular tendency. When possible, if an object is advancing, place them moving to the right.

When an object moves in multiple directions from scene to scene/panel to panel, it conveys a message that the object is meandering without direction or is lost. The object appears to be seeking out, searching for a correct way toward a goal. This can be effective if an object is traveling though a maze or is exploring a new territory.

An example of an object moving in different directions from panel to panel.
An example of an object moving in different directions from panel to panel.

These are general guidelines to be used in most instances. There are times when it makes sense to break them. For instance, when a hero advances moving left to right in one panel, and their enemy is charging to fight them, moving right to left. The opposing direction movement of the two object’s causes a viewer to feel the two are moving toward each other and will converge for an encounter.

This information is not only beneficial to comic book artists, but also carries over to cinematography, and the direction an actor moves across the screen in a movie. Many video games creators also use it to move characters through a game’s story line, moving the characters left to right.

I hope you found some good direction with this tutorial. Please share this article if you found it interesting.

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