Comic Talk and General Discussion

Formatting for ebooks or print?
Bruno Harm at 7:49AM, Feb. 17, 2016
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I've probably got a ways to go before I'm making books, but does anyone have advice on size or format? do I need to make PDF's for ebooks? any sites you recommend? I'd like to get my formatting down before I get to 200 pages and decide I've got to change everything. My comic is a strip comic, not the usual comic book set up.
Amelius at 11:43AM, Feb. 17, 2016
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Yes, you will have to make a PDF file, if you have photoshop you can do that rather easily!

I've heard good things about Ka-Blam, the printing of JustNoPoint's Devon Legacy looked pretty good from what I recall.

I personally have gone through DriveThruComics, but I did a black and white printing. I had a good experience with them and was happy with how they turned out, though I went with some of the cost-saving options.

For strip-style, you might look around at the sites and see what sizing they offer. Usually they have a template for you to work with or a dimension suggestion. Decide how many strips you will put on each page, I'd suggest playing around with different templates to see what suits you best.

Important things to consider: Binding and giving space for it. You'll have to figure out which side each page is going to be bound to so you don't have art being devoured by the book binding! I don't think with a strip-style format you'll have quite the same issue, but comics that take up a full page and bleed off the edge have to look out for this.

Color profile: I don't have a lot of experience here personally but color is printed with CMYK and that doesn't play well with some RGB colors. If you are working in RGB, you might want to see how some of it looks in CMYK and make printer-friendly corrections. Otherwise colors will look dull, you can mitigate it somewhat to look less dull. This site goes into further detail on that.



usedbooks at 12:19PM, Feb. 17, 2016
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I think most use CMYK for printing. Ka-blam does RGB, and has good fidelity. They use .TIF format. Check around the different companies for their preferences/requirements. Most have templates.

Generally, printed format doesn't work well online and vice versa, so you will likely need to reformat for printing. It will help to have compatible dimensions, though (and colors, as Amelius mentioned).
maskdt at 2:24PM, Feb. 18, 2016
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You need to use CMYK for printing, since the printers will quite literally use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black ink. RGB is for digital publishing only, since monitors make their colours with red, green, and blue light. If you try to print RGB, you probably won't get the results you want since the printer will have to make some guesses about how to mix the ink to match your colours.

You also need to have “bleeds” if you're planning to print. Bleeds are what's printed outside of where the page will be cut. Since you're doing a strip, having your bleeds just be the same colour as the background of your page and extending about .125" should be sufficient. That way, if the paper shifts while it's being cut, you don't end up with an unsightly line of blank paper on one side.

You should set up some margins on your page, too. Most comic printers you'll find online will provide templates that include margins. DO NOT PLACE ANYTHING IN THE MARGINS. They're blank not just to give the content some breathing room, but to prevent anything important from coming even close to be lost when the paper is cut, as well as to keep your content from winding up so close to the spine of a printed book that it ends up in the fold of the page.

One final word of advice: you absolutely NEED to have high resolution images if you want to print a book. Most printers prefer 300 dpi, but you can get away with 150 dpi from more simplified images, ideally without a lot of colour. Anything below 150 dpi runs the risk of winding up blurry, pixelated, or full of digital artifacts when it's printed.

Above all, try to talk to your printer/digital publisher to make sure you're doing it right. They don't enjoy putting out work that's full of mistakes, since it results in disappointed clients and can make them look unprofessional as well.
Z74 at 3:16PM, Feb. 18, 2016
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If you have the ability to scan 11x17 you can buy bristol board from Strathmore all ready lined for comic books - it is pretty cheap too , around $5 for 30 sheets if you catch it on sale at blick art supply on line , hobby lobby sells it too . The lines are non repro blue so that helps .
Bruno Harm at 6:21PM, Feb. 18, 2016
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Thanks for the advice everyone!

the files online are 96dpi and rgb. but I have the photoshop files at 600dpi and I can convert to CMYK if needs be.
El Cid at 7:07PM, Feb. 18, 2016
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It was already mentioned, but I'll reiterate it: Not *all* printers are CMYK (Kablam, for one, is RGB), so don't go switching color spaces until you've checked with the specific printer you plan on using.

Pretty much, there's no catch-all answer to what's the best way to do a book for print. Every printer will have their own specs – their own margin templates, their own color space, and in some cases a printer-specific color profile you'll need to download. So once you decide on a printing company, just read their FAQ and follow it, and if you have any questions, ask them about it.

Also, if you're able to, it may be worth it to do a test printing. I've never printed anything in volume and in earnest, but I've test-printed some of my cleaner comics with Kablam and they do good work. I even did reduced resolution versions to see how low I could get away with. I couldn't tell the difference between the 150 and 300 dpi versions, and even the lowest resolution I printed (72 dpi) still looked great. Might be different if I were printing an oversize book, though.
bravo1102 at 6:14AM, Feb. 19, 2016
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I used to do page set-ups freelance. I learned Quark Xpress back in the day and set up plenty of pages for print as well as creating custom decal sheets for specialty printing. Maskdt covered the importance of margins and bleeds. A good rule of thumb is to create art on a 8 by 10 page and print it on a 8.5 by 11 page. That gives you .25 to .5 inches all around.


Try working to print half page 5x8 sometime and laying out two pages on one sheet. Something to consider for a book of comic strips.

last edited on Feb. 19, 2016 6:17AM
Amelius at 1:17PM, Feb. 19, 2016
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It was already mentioned, but I'll reiterate it: Not *all* printers are CMYK (Kablam, for one, is RGB), so don't go switching color spaces until you've checked with the specific printer you plan on using.

Unless you have back-lit paper, you can't print RGB, it is an additive color profile, it only works with light behind it.
Yes even Ka-Blam prints in CMYK, they just have really good printer that converts RGB mid-process with lasers for more vibrancy. And probably has like 8 inkjets too. A higher color gamut to be sure, but it is not an “RGB printer”.

All that means is they prefer you send the file in RGB rather than botch it yourself trying to fix the saturation that gets screwed in the limited gamut (anything neon green for example).

Never try to convert CMYK to RGB, though.

The only printer that touts true RGB printing is the Lumejet, which is not a printing service but a device that seems to be still in development, I don't even see any real customer reviews other than one person stating that it prints on special silver-halide photograph paper with reflective qualities.

El Cid at 2:25PM, Feb. 19, 2016
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Also some Fuji and Noritsu printers, but you're muddying the point. The point – the ONLY point – is that you need to find out from your specific printing company what format they want, and go by that. Don't listen to what people tell you on forums, because they can't know.
Amelius at 2:48PM, Feb. 19, 2016
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I'm not muddying the point, I'm being pedantic! :P

You don't think it's important not to falsely advertise something to someone looking for a place to print? I'd say Ka-Blam still sounds pretty good, but I was just reading some discussions regarding it just brightening the colors to compensate for CMYK's usual dullness. And Ka-Blam themselves have not made any claims to owning an RGB printer.

It's, indeed, a matter of preference, as you infer.
ozoneocean at 8:52PM, Feb. 19, 2016
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Graphic design is my living, but I stay away from the printing side, farrr away, even though I get stuff printed on things you've never even heard off…

So the thing is, I find that CMYK/RGB/back-lit paper stuff discussion really interesting!

I hate layout type work and will do anything I can to avoid it, I just read up on the printer requirements and try to send them something that fits… Most of the time it's only a PDF vector file with PMS colours, sometimes full digital and other things. These days it's all pretty streamlined and straight forward, I don' have to get films done or separations or anything clever. If overprinting is needed or something smart to do with the texture or absorbency or geometry of the printing surface the printers sort that out.


I NEVER ever learned anything about commercial printing because I never studied graphic design, I got into it on my art and comicing skills, so I value these titbits that I pick up.
Even though I distance myself from it, it does matter and it makes it easier and you have less issues when you pick up the tricks and limitations of what you're working with.
 
last edited on Feb. 19, 2016 8:54PM
Amelius at 9:07PM, Feb. 19, 2016
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It's a pretty useful discussion for me to be honest too, I'm gonna be printing stuff real soon myself!

Speaking of colors too, there was a post by some artists who work primarily in pigment paints sort of scolding the artists who try and blend red, yellow, and blue primaries in their paintings, and instead insisted getting the closest to magenta, cyan and yellow you can for richer colors. Interesting considering how dull the gamut looks in printing, huh? The charts they show run up into the white/grey area so much in cmyk…auughh
ozoneocean at 10:34PM, Feb. 19, 2016
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And greeny blues…
I'd think those artists are crazy- paint is very different from printing ink. The CMYK system was designed to be standardised across many printing systems, which doesn't make it the perfect mixing palette at all, it's just ONE of the agreed upon systems for printers.
Paints are way more varied and complicated in their pigments than printing ink.

But then artists are crazy like that about technique in general- about 10% scientific knowledge, 20% guessing and 70% magical thinking.
 
bravo1102 at 5:08AM, Feb. 20, 2016
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Really a back-lit screen will always look brighter than a flat book page. Books are ink on paper not LIGHT filtered through a screen. So one will always look more dull. It's simple physics.


Though there are specialty inks and paper to brighten it up but you really want to do that? Are you printing a coffee table-top art book, important color reference for obsessed enthusiasts or a comic strip?


The edging towards pure CMYK for most vibrant printing is an old trick. You'd adjust the color mix to made the hues truer to the intended inks. Then you also had to create the transparencies and overlays for spot colors like neon green or Barbie Pink™ One of the guys I studied with did package design work for Mattel so he had the background in setting that up.

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