i'm in the process of making a graphic novel together with a scriptwriter. We're both at our first attempt in making a graphic novel although we are not new in drawing (me) and scripting (him).

This is the first time that i have to deal with a "flashback" situation without explicitly stating FLASHBACK (or whatever kind of sentence may work) on the panel. Just drawings, no captions or baloons.

I thought of a change of the mood (light color) and play with the resemblance of the charachter in the past, but i don't know if it's enough.

There is also the possibility (i've not read the whole script yet) that i would have to draw flashbacks occurring into another flashback, someone would say "flashbackception"?

How should i handle this?

Any advice, experience or useful links on the topic are appreciated.

EDIT: What i've read so far

  • Other saying 'they should look different' there's no specific rule here. Google will provide you with plenty of options to consider. One of many google results: youtube.com/watch?v=dZ4FY-f_Y5c
    – DA01
    Oct 22, 2014 at 23:58
  • 2
    Really interesting question, though a tad broad. As with all things this depends on context. I've seen this done in many different ways depending on the rest of the style. I think this might work better if you use our Critique Guidelines and post a flashback page and regular page to get a better answer... Here's the guidelines: meta.graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/681/…
    – Ryan
    Oct 23, 2014 at 0:03
  • @DA01 i've seen almost everything google could offer me, i'll edit my question with what i've read so far.
    – Yenn
    Oct 23, 2014 at 0:15
  • @Ryan i'm still far from the first sketch (we are in the charachters definition phase) so i have nothing to show at the moment. I'll edit the question when i have something, thanks.
    – Yenn
    Oct 23, 2014 at 0:27
  • 1
    The most obvious thing to do would be to very obviously change the saturation of flashback panels (maybe even go full black + white?). I've also seen a slight blur vignette around the edges of flashback panels in webcomics quite a bit.
    – Pixeltramp
    Oct 23, 2014 at 1:24

3 Answers 3


Using black as the outer colour of the panels seems to work in my experience.

Here's an example: http://www.hoodedutilitarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/scottpilgrim4.jpg

enter image description here

  • Thanks for the contribution and welcome to GraphicDesign! Let us know if you have any questions Mar 2, 2015 at 14:02

I'm only making a brainstorm here:

You can play with the style of the background perhaphs:

  • Lot less detail

  • In negative if it is black and white

  • Diferent color schemes, the sky not blue for example

  • All the flashbacks in a dawn, or with a dramathic ilumination in interiors.

  • Blurry ones

  • Curvier or straighter lines

Start with a close up of the main character on that flashback, the eyes?

Diferent camera angle


try splitting the illustration into half diagonally with 'two lines ~'like a thin thunder bolt'... and now fade/feather/blur one section of the illustration for the effect. hope this helps

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