Crossing the Gutter: good or bad?

  • I've been thinking about this for a couple weeks and would like to hear some other artist's opinions on the subject. I know characters and things getting lost in the gutter is bad but what about when the focal point of the image purposefully crosses the gutter? When do you think this is okay, and when is it not okay?


    I'm new to picture books, so I'd be thankful for any thoughts or opinions to help guide me as I start down this path.

  • Seems like in this case, in my uneducated opinion, it’s ok because none of the character’s features are “interrupted” or “disrupted” by the gutter (can you tell I’m not a professional?🙃). The goat’s snout is long enough that the brain is filling in the blanks, so the speak. If the gutter was running through his forehead and eyes, for example, then it would look awkward and there’d be “design tension”.

    Great goat design, by the way!

  • @danielerossi thanks for weighing in. I guess with both our uneducated opinions combined we can assume the answer is "it depends." I think this picture works but my gut instinct says to try out other solutions before crossing the gutter like that. Thanks again! The illustration is by Marcia Brown.

  • @Zachary-Drenski, Maybe consider crossing the gutter with every illustration on each page. That might work, but I’m no expert...

  • Good question! The example you provided is a hard one - It works but technically the gutter is cutting his face right in the middle which, when typed out, sounds like a huge nono. It doesn't really bother me too much here though 🤷♂ I think what your example proves is that it's not a yes or no situation with the gutter but more likely a better and best situation.

  • Qood question. I think in this case it works, as the main features of the face are far away enough from the gutter. The overall composition would loose all the dynamic if you place the goat only on one page. I'd say, the final binding of the book also plays a role. Some bend open really nicely (as usually for stitched/sewn books), others are stubborn and hide a broader piece of paper in the gutter (paperback - even worse if using the wrong machine direction of the paper).
    What you could try as well is to show more of the goat, keep it across the gutter, for example cut at her neck. Still, for me, it works as is!

  • A thought just occurred to me — what did Sr. Seuss do with his books? They are full of of full page spreads, no? I don’t think I’ve ever come across a book where a character’s face was cut off in the gutter 🤔

  • @danielerossi @Jeremy-Ross @Meta @SFischer I have seen it done badly since I started paying more attention to how picture books are made. Consensus seems to be that it works in this case. I haven't gotten very far into the making children's book svs class but maybe they go into how to treat the gutter. This gutter situation was a nagging question in my mind everytime I read this book to my son so thanks everyone for your answers.

    A side note- I looked up Marcia Brown, this books illustrator, and she had an extremely accomplished career!

  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @Zachary-Drenski I think in this case it would be ok.

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