By Rosanne (aka Risu-chan)
Printing Comics: Setting Up For the Print Shop
(aka How Not to Make Your Printer Cry)
Doing graphic design as well as assisting in the indy comic
"Lucian Fallen" has taught me many things in the
print industry. A great deal of what I've learned dealt
with setting up one's artwork for print. Often people tend
to submit work that is not set up properly. Having said
that, I would like to share some things to consider before
you start your work that will ultimately be sent to the
printers. Please keep in mind that this is a general guide
and does not necessarily reflect all setup requirements
of all print shops. The safest bet is to call up your print
shop prior to working on your project to ask them their
Before you start working on your file, ask your printer
what software applications they use. This way, you don't
start working on your file with software applications of
which a printshop can't print off.
All works should usually be at least 300dpi for the best
results in print. Make sure that you set this up before
you scan or work on your image. You cannot change the resolution
from something lower to something higher afterwards and
have the quality of your image improve. Files are usually
saved in .tiff, .psd, and .bmp.
Correct: Scanning an image at 300dpi and then bringing it
into Photoshop, keeping it at 300 dpi while you colour it.
Incorrect: Scanning your image at 72dpi and then bringing
it into Photoshop, then changing the resolution to 300 dpi.
3. The Files
Depending on how you've made your file, you may have to
include the fonts that go along with it. In a case where
an application such as Photoshop is being used, it's often
a good idea to flatten the layers in the file to reduce
file size and not worry about certain effects going missing
or having to include the fonts. HOWEVER, make sure you do
keep a file UNFLATTENED for yourself, in case adjustments
need to be made later.
4. Printing Borders
If your comic book is to be digitally printed, most likely,
the printer/copier to be used will have some sort of printing
border. It's often, around 1/8 of an inch to 1/4 of an inch.
Keep your content away from this border unless you are planning
to have your comic book trimmed, in which case you need
to have a bleed...
Does the content on the page extend to the edge of the page?
If so, you'll need a background content that can be chopped
off to go over the intended dimension of your comic by a
quarter inch to be safe. This way, when your book is trimmed
to size, the content will extend to the edge, without any
As for more important content that you really don't want
accidentally chopped off, like text, it's usually safe to
keep it away from the edge where you comic book is to be
cut by about 1/4 inch.
Print shops have an large assortment of paper, in different
weights, sizes, colours and textures. Make sure you discuss
the paper you'd like to use prior to the print job as it
may influence the printing process.
7. Digital Printing/Photocopying vs. Offset Printing
This depends on the quantity. Usually, for small runs, printing
it out digitally (or with a photocopier) is more cost effective
than the traditional press (aka offset printing). In this
case, talk to your printer about the prices they charge
for each method. In using the traditional press, film and
plates for each page may have to be made to print your comic
book, which is the costly part. If it is a high volume run,
this is the way to go, however, keep in mind that, should
you want to change content in your comic book, film and
plates have to be re-made.
8. Colour Printing
CMYK vs RGB
Should you decide to print any of your comic book in colour
(i.e. the cover page), it's recommended to keep the colours
in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) as it represents
the colour gamut that the cyan, magenta, yellow and black
inks can reproduce. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is best used
if your pictures are meant to be displayed on a computer
screen, let's say, and not printed as the Red, Green, Blue
represents the colours of light. If, let's say, an RGB file
is digitally printed, there is a possibility that the colours
may change to accomodate for the inks available. I think
that if you hand over an RGB file to have it printed using
the offset method, the person working on your file will
either convert it to CMYK for you or hand you back your
file to fix it. Consult with your printer to see which
method is best for your comic book.
In traditional press, there are special inks that are not
part of the cyan, magenta, yellow, and black mixes of colours
such as the Pantone set of colours. These inks include fluorescent
colours and metallic colours. This option is only available
in offset printing and not digital press.
The typical way of binding a comic book is where the paper
is folded in half with two staples in the middle, which
is also known as "saddle stitching". In this case,
to avoid blank pages, the amount of pages in your book should
be in multiples of four. Why four? If you were to fold a
piece of paper in half, you'll end up with 4 pages. If it's
not in a multiple of four, extra blank pages will result.
Remember to keep your content away from where the comic
book is to be folded by about 1/4 inch. Keep in mind the
weight of the paper you have chosen to print on as, if the
book gets too bulky when folded, it will become difficult
to bind using this method. In such a case you may have to
change the type of binding that is closer to what they would
use with novels, called "perfect binding". This
method is pricier than saddle stitching so it's advisable
to keep the page count down.
After binding your comic book, it may or may not have to
be trimmed to size. Please keep in mind that, often, there
is an extra charge for this.
Remember, making sure that your comic is properly set for
print will avoid much grief later on. A person's artwork
crumbles when it is poorly printed.
Synopsis: The world is about to change. Yet to army rises
to do battle. No organizations seeks conquest and domination.
The world is changing and it will start with one man who
has no reason to live and every reason to kill.
Tutorial by Rosanne, aka Risu-chan. All rights reserved.