This week we’re going to look at Hal Foster’s Prince Valiant.
I was always curious if Hal Foster used grid maps to compose his pages, so I thought I would map out a few of his pages to see if he did. I found the top and bottom square of each page – using the same method I demo’d in Layout Workbook 4. This is the same grid that we’ve been using all along. The extra lines that are on the grid are just further harmonies that are generated from the top and bottom squares.
Did Foster use a grid map to compose his pages? I think so. Everything lines up so perfectly that it is hard for me to imagine that he hit all those points “by eye” only. Foster still had to draw the drawings. The grid didn’t draw the images. Foster probably used the grid map to compose but remember – it was his talent that rendered the drawings. The grid map is just a tuning fork of sorts.
What is really nice about the broad sheet Sunday page format is that the composition retains the center. Foster never gives up the center of the page. He might go two panels wide but still utilizes the the center. Notice how he’ll focus the eye towards the convergence of lines at the center of the page. Directly above and below the center are, of course, the centers of each of the squares – the top and bottom squares. These centers are all in the center panel. Try and follow the arcs and you’ll see how he is using the “notes” on the page to keep it all in tune.