Types of vignettes for comic strips: give your story a dynamic rhythm

When creating a comic strip, you must establish the types of vignettes you will use, since they will help you to delimit everything that will be the course of your work. you didn’t have this information? Don’t worry, we have already taught you more about it.

Learning how to make comics or manga is a process that begins to overcome the dreaded blank page.and the fact is that, among so many types of vignettes that exist, even the most pro artist wonders: “how to know which cartoon vignettes to use on this page, the next one and the others?

To choose the composition of cartoon vignettes, the first rule you should learn is that there are no rules: all the graphic resources of a cartoon are at your disposal for you to use them as you wish and, thus, enhance the storytelling in the most engaging way for the reader.

However, creativity also needs bases, doesn’t it? So, knowing the different types of cartoon vignettes will help you to have a bank of ideas to draw your first sketches. do you want to know what they are? Go to the third section of the article, because first we will review some basics.

what is a cartoon vignette?

According to the Clip Studio website, the vignettes in a comic book represent an instant of your narrative. They are the minimum unit of the comic book, since they contain its other elements such as the following:

The types of shots.



Conversation balloons.


Fotos de comics

Source: Unsplash

what are cartoon vignettes for?

Pía Prado Bley explains the function of comic vignettes in a very didactic and simple way: “From the size of a vignette, we will manage the narrative rhythm of our original story”.

how does this work? The artist gives us the following example:

While watching a movie or an anime series, as viewers, we only have to see how events happen while the animation is running. However, in comic strips there are only still images that everyone reads at their own pace.

So how can we manage timing in comics and how do we define that there are certain events that are more important than others? Pía Prado continues:

“The answer lies in the vignettes (…) There are some vignettes that are bigger than others, the bigger the vignette, the longer the reader will stay reading it (…).) If we want to represent that in our story there are moments that we need to be read dynamically, or if we also want to represent events that are happening quickly, then we will need to draw many small vignettes that are side by side”.

done! With the basics covered, then, what are the types of vignettes and what are they for? Here we get into the depths of the types of vignettes in a comic book, which are not few (you’ll see). Next, we’ll tell you about their 3 main classifications:

According to their margins

According to their cuts

According to their shapes

For many of our examples, we will use vignettes taken from the Avatar: The Legend of Aang comics because… who doesn’t like an all-powerful character who controls the 4 elements and must save the world at the age of 12?

Types of vignettes according to their margins

Although they may seem unimportant, margins are an essential element in every comic book. And, within the different types of cartoons, the margins serve to distinguish between them.

Let’s see what types of vignettes exist according to their margins:

1. Open vignette

Open vignettes are those that have no limit. Their margins are not closed and, therefore, these types of vignettes only end where the page ends. look at the vignette on the left!

Vineta abierta ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

Because of the above, these kinds of vignettes produce a sense of open, infinite space that extends beyond the page. They can also create the perception of being in a timeless space, that is, outside of narrative time.

As examples of open vignettes, you can use them to show new locations or your choice of characters to make a comic, and in combat scenes they are perfect, as they increase the dimensions of what is happening.

2. Closed vignette

Closed vignettes are those that are limited on all sides, that is, the margins of the vignette do not exceed the margins of the page. These are the classic types of vignettes.

Vineta cerrada ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

These types of vignettes in a comic you can use if you want to create a unique shot to show how your character feels in their environment, especially if they are in a tense moment.

3. Orthogonal vignette

A vignette is orthogonal when all of its sides are straight and therefore form rectangles or squares. The horizontal margins of these types of cartoon vignettes are drawn parallel to the central axis of the page, while the vertical margins are placed perpendicular.

Vineta ortogonal ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

Generally, these types of cartoon vignettes are closed. They are used to give a sense of calm, stability and balance.

4. Oblique vignette

In oblique vignettes, also known as diagonal vignettes or slanted vignettes, the margins of the frames are shown slanted before the natural axes of the sheet, that is, they are types of vignettes with diagonal lines.

Vineta diagonal oblicua ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

These types of vignettes affect the balance of the page and give it a lot of dynamism, therefore, they are ideal for showing scenes of action, movement, intensity or chaos.

5. Broken bullet

have you ever seen when a character goes out of the margins of his own vignette, “invading” the whole page? Precisely, these types of cartoon vignettes are known as “out of the vignette” or “out of the vignette”.

Vineta rota ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

In these types of vignettes, objects and/or characters go partially or completely out of their frame.This is used to highlight something that has great importance and give a lot of dynamism to the design of the comic. it’s as if the character is stepping out of their world and getting closer to your reader!

Now, in order for it to make sense to use these types of vignettes in comics, you must be clear with the reader and show them which vignette the highlighted graphic element belongs to.this way, you preserve the logical reading order.

6. Bullets of one page or more

Generally, a comic page has between 5 and 7 bullets. Now, if you want to give much more emphasis to a scene, there is nothing better than using one or two-page vignettes! This kind of vignettes transmit greatness and impact, and they are the kind of vignettes that you keep looking at until you identify every detail.

Vinetas una pagina ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

Now, their use must be logical. If you use 2-page vignettes, of course the action should start on the left and move to the right. Or if you present a secondary character on a whole page, it wouldn’t make sense to present your main character in a smaller vignette type.

They’re very common in superhero comics, and here are some situations where you’re sure to have seen this type of one- or two-page vignette:

When the hero fights the villain.

In calm situations in which the character is living with his environment, for example, when he is meditating before the big battle.

When two characters coexist with the setting at the same time.

7. Outside vignette

Outer vignettes are those that are separated from the others by gutter (the space in the middle of the vignettes).

For example, if you want to emphasize something that is happening in an outer vignette, you can draw a thicker gutter that further separates that type of vignette from the others.

Vineta exterior ejemplos

Source: Avatar Comics

8. Inner vignette

Interior vignettes are contained within other types of larger vignettes. Typically, they are used to show a detail or event taking place at the same time in a scene.

Vineta interior ejemplos

Source: Avatar Comics

9. Decorative vignette

In addition to separating each scene of your narrative,the margins of the vignettes can become part of the drawing as a decorative element. When that happens, we’re talking about decorative vignette types.

check out the vignettes above and below in the example below!

Vinetas decorativas ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

Decorative comic vignettes are used to set specific moments or situations in the plot. The trick is not to clutter the margin design so as not to make the story difficult to understand.

10. Psychological vignette

Now, when the composition of vignettes and their margins have strange or unusual shapes, but with great strength, we are dealing with psychological vignettes.

Vineta psicologica ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

These types of vignettes for comics are used to generate certain feelings in the reader and immerse him even more in the plot. as always, you must make sure that the margins of the psychological vignettes do not affect the reading order or hinder the comprehension of the narrative.

Types of vignettes according to their cut

Moving on from the types of vignettes according to their margins, we must make the distinction that the types of vignettes for manga can also be classified according to their cut.

1. Straight cut

Straight-cut vignette types are the most commonly used in manga. They are used for more neutral moments when the plot is developing evenly and smoothly, and you don’t want to distract the reader.

Vineta corte recto ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

2. Diagonal cut

This resource is often seen for action sequences, however it is not its only use.

You can also use diagonal-cut vignette types to give more dynamism to a simple movement, shorten the reading time between two vignettes or give a more natural rhythm to a sequence.

Vineta corte diagonal ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

3. Full bleed vignettes

These are types of vignettes for manga that have no apparent boundaries. They give the feeling of happening at the bottom of the page and work very well to contain actions that are happening in parallel or highlight events of greater importance to others.

Vinetas a sangre ejemplo

Source: Avatar Comics

Types of vignettes according to their shape

Finally, vignettes can also be classified according to their shape. Here the limit is your imagination, but, in general, the types of vignettes that can be used in a comic strip are:

1. Horizontal rectangles (or horizontal blinds)

These are the most common types of vignettes that are usually seen, as they are also the most used because of their ease of making them. But is there a reason for this? Yes, that the shape of a cartoon also conveys a message to the reader.

If you look closely at the comics or cartoons where these types of vignettes appear, you will see that they have right angles. These generate in the viewer a feeling of balance andare the perfect opener to generate a faster time sequence.

viñetas horizontales

Source: Pinterest

2. Vertical rectangles (or vertical louvers)

Much like their horizontal counterpart, cartoon vignettes that are rectangular and vertical provide a sense of neutrality and stability to the reader. But be warned, they also tend to be very common in comics.

what is the intention of this design? To generate a sensation that time seems to stop in the scene in question. As if someone had paused the situation with a remote control, with the intention of highlighting some situation.

So, you know, a good way to stop time is with…. vignettes of vertical rectangles (warning, we don’t think this would work in real life, only in comics).

viñetas vertticales

Source: Pinterest

3. Ovals

Looking at these types of vignettes, we see that they are used for a specific purpose. They are not as common as some of the ones mentioned above, but they serve their function.

and what is that function? Oval vignettes are usually used when the character in question (usually the protagonist) is referring to an imaginary context, whether he is recalling a memory or reflecting on a dream he had.

viñetas ovaladas

Source: Pinterest

4. Triangular

what do we usually find with these types of vignettes? A dynamic, action-packed setting. Usually these are the types of vignettes we usually see in action comics or manga.

This kind of shape offers great dynamism to an action scene. Depending on the point of the triangle, it is even possible to generate different sensations of alertness or proximity. Suspense is served with this type of vignette.

viñetas triangulares

Source: Pinterest

Of course, these types of vignettes are not the only ones. You can also find others like the following:




They say that variety is the spice of life, so when designing your comic, keep in mind that there are certain rules you must follow in order to create the graphic piece of your dreams.

how to choose the composition of vignettes?

do you remember the first rule about vignette composition that we gave you in the introduction of the article? there are no rules! Knowing the different types of vignettes for comics will serve as a guide so that your pages won’t feel monotonous or boring.

The key to choosing the vignette composition in your comic is only your storytelling: it is the story you create that sets the guidelines, rhythms, sizes, quantities and shapes of your vignettes.

However, we know that some well-timed tips can help you improve your art. So take note:

Keep in mind the types of vignettes you have drawn in previous pages, to alternate your choice in the next pages and give dynamism to your storytelling.

Be conscious about the size of the vignette to set the pace. Smaller vignettes tend to read first and faster than larger ones. And, by the way, horizontal blinds take longer to read than vertical blinds.

The pages of your comic are a sequence of moments, represented by the different types of vignettes in a comic book. Depending on the number of moments you want to show, the page will last longer or shorter. if you want to give full attention to a moment, you can use one or two-page vignettes, but if you want a certain moment of the story to be read quickly, you can create small vignettes one after the other.

Now, keep in mind that too dynamic a composition can make the reading too tiring. The same goes for making all the vignettes too big. the key to choosing the composition of the types of vignettes is to balance dynamism and calmness!

Consider the number of dialogue balloons you need to include in each vignette, as well as other graphic elements such as gutters, onomatopoeias or impact lines. This way you will know what types of vignettes you need to use.

Finally, the types of vignettes for comics are closely linked to the shots (general, American, medium, close-up or detail shot, to name a few) and the angles (zenithal, dive, neutral, contrapicado, etc.). So it is worth studying them in more depth.

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