That's my topic for today. The re-composition of a cartoon panel. Fifty years ago, the options for altering compositions were to redraw the panel or to cut and paste elements. Snip the image physically with scissors and then move the snipped-out item to a different location. A modified third approach would be to draw something on a new piece of paper and then paste that paper onto the original drawing, positioning it properly and redrawing any obscured line.
Then, if it was a sketch, one could put the whole deal on a lightbox and ink a final version. Or if it was an ink version being used from the start then simply submit that multi-paper collage as your final version. That was then. But now, in our sometimes convenient digital age, we use a different approach. And to illuminate that difference, I've included a before and after picture of my most recent sketch. The red lower rectangle encloses the "before" view and the green upper one the "after" view.
The first thing that's obvious is that the lower rectangle is in what we call landscape mode, wider than tall. The upper, on the other hand, is taller than wide. What we call portrait mode. Is that important? YES! When you're a professional gag cartoonist, you create gags that you can sell to magazines. And if you study cartoons in magazines you'll note that they're usually in portrait mode. Not always, for sure, but often. And that's because the cartoons are not infrequently fit into a column of text. If the page has three columns, then that defines a rather modest width. Thus, for there to be sufficient area for the image itself, we need height. A perusal of my initial sketch showed me a landscape view that would have trouble if displayed with its current aspect ratio (aspect ratio being the ratio of width to height). So it was time to take out the digital knife.
Imagine that bottom sketch as being light pencil lines on a piece of transparent plastic. If you placed that plastic atop a piece of white paper you'd see just what you see in the enclosed image. That's pretty precisely what happens on my computer screen. There's a bottom digital layer that's all white. And above that is the sketch layer, which contains nothing but digital "pencil" lines. Conveniently, all digital art programs like Manga Studio or Photoshop include a tool that you can use to draw a "cut here" line around anything on your layer. And after you've laid down that line you merely click "cut" and boom, what you've cut disappears.
It's not destroyed, though. Just as with physical scissors, the cut out piece still remains. Another click and you can paste that cut-out onto it's own new layer that exists above the original. And at this point everything likely looks the same because the program will (probably) have pasted the new image right over the "hole" below. However, you can move layers however you wish (just as with real pieces of paper). So you just move the new piece to a new location. Easy.
And that's all there is to it (besides the other details I ignored but which are available in my course "Learn to be a World FamousCartoonist in Just 1,374 Easy Lessons.")!
To make it all easier to see, I upped the contrast so that the dead white areas (holes) in the upper version are easy to see. And as a challenge to you, my eagle-eyed reader, what are all the changes I made in my original drawing and why did I perhaps choose to make them?