Step 3: Drawing the Comic: Panel Layout
When I'm done with the sketches I take an 18" Wescott metal ruler with a cork backing, and measure out the panels for the comic onto my Bristol board with light pencil lines. Always pencil, in case you mess up. You can't really see it, but I had to erase 6 lines from this page before getting the layout right. In the next step I actually change the panel layout on-the-fly. This is why pencils are your friends. Some comic creators will draw their frames in ink immediately, but I can't constrain myself at this step. I change things too often.
Since I try to keep comics drawn on paper confined to a single page, I usually leave 1/2 inch margins around the panels. However because I needed more room for this particular layout, the margins are 1/8" top and bottom, and 1/4" on the sides. This actually will make it slightly harder for me to draw the comic, but I really need the space. I could split these up onto two pages, but I feel like I'm wasting too much paper doing that.
I use 1/8" gutters -- the space/gap between panels.