Panels are probably the most distinguishable elements of sequential art. Graphics applications which get advertised as suitable for creating comics often provide some tools for working with panels. Comicado is no exception. It provides support for panels in a very fundamental way – the panels are the base containers for actual artwork. C2 is preserving this concept. However, a concept is one thing and its practical implementation another. I am glad to say you that C2 will feature many improvements in this implementation. Here is the list of the most important changes:
1) The use of panel elements is now more optional. This reflects the goal of C2 to be a painting application with wider range of usage. A board with the base panel is now one unity called “canvas” (to use the same terms like in most other applications). And then there are the elements called “panels”. Behind the scene there is not much difference between the two elements (beside the panel border of course) but that is not the point. What is important is that with the improvements in the layers system (layer groups within groups and other stuff) you can now decide that canvas provides everything you need (maybe even for creating comic pages). The GUI selectors reflects this – the list of panels is in a separated window. This allows less busy layers selector and of course- if you don’t wish or need the panels, you can hide their selector and get some free place in the GUI space.
2) The panel border lines are made of the new vector polycurves. Check out my previous blog posts about the new vector possibilities of C2. As a result of that, it is now easier to create and edit border lines. The panels are no longer made with some predetermined position and rectangle shape (which often requires additional resizing). You now create them with the shape constructor tools like ordinary polylines on the vector layers. A new panel always includes a layer of the (flattened) content of the current panel (or canvas). This is is an important conceptual change which reflects the fact that panels (or their layout) is an integral part of a comic page art. You need to know their, at least “approximate”, appearance before you can make them. In other words – a sketch of a comic page layout should be drawn first on the canvas.
As the panel border lines are made from the same kind of vector curves as those on the vector layers, another tool for creating panels is quite logical. A tool which “extract” panels from the closed polycurves on a vector layer. This is the most powerful tool for creating panels as it allows creation of arbitrary shaped panel borders. It even works as a batch command. You can create all shapes for panel borders on a vector layer, fine tune them and then with one click turn them into panels.
3) With the panels in mind, a new feature of the vector system was designed which enables precise positioning of vector shapes. I am calling it the “target movement” and is a kind of more sophisticated, interactive snapping system. This is an essential feature for quick and precise positioning of arbitrary polygons, one next to another.
4) I mentioned that the panel border lines are made of the vector shapes, but this sentence should have had added “by default” at end. Alternatively a bitmap layer can also utilized (by rasterisation of the current border vector layer). So if you want to use the panels with some fancy painted border lines, you can.
Ok. Enough of text. It is time for a mandatory image of the new stuff in action. The following comic page sketch layout was first drawn on the canvas and then the panels were made with the polyline “make panel” tool.
Long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… or something like that. I think space battles are among rare scenes which justify use of angled panel borders. Well, I can’t show off C2 panels with some boring rectangles stuff, right?