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Author Topic: Bleed Art Pages for Print - Part 4  (Read 7109 times)

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Offline Rob

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Bleed Art Pages for Print - Part 4
« on: September 12, 2010, 10:35:43 PM »
A comic artists' guide to understanding proper proportions of comic book art for print projects

by Kurt Hathaway


You can find part one of this article here.

You can find part two of this article here.

You can find part three of this article here.


In parts 1, 2 and 3, I discussed the two basic comics page types for print comics: the non-bleed page and the bleed page -- and how to properly set them up in the art stage to better maximize art presentation in the printed comic book.

Here, I'll wrap up the bleed vs. live area discussion with a few general, but related, notes.

A final note on page shape vs. size.

In a previous installment on this topic, I spent some time explaining that original artwork and consequently printed comic books are a certain shape and size.

I must stress that the overall shape -- that is, the actual DIMENSIONS (the ratio of height to width) of the original artwork is the overriding and prevailing factor in regards to original artwork.

BECAUSE:
Since the comics biz is now set firmly in the computer age, the ACTUAL SIZE of the artwork may vary and still be scaled up or down in the pre-press stage for printing. But if the dimensions are off, no scaling can help the poor page.

Stick to pre-ruled boards or rule your own with the specs below and you can't go wrong, but some artists prefer to work bigger or smaller, depending.

The standard page specs from a DC art board:

Bleed box:      266 millimeters by 402 millimeters
Trim box:      253 millimeters by 389 millimeters
Live area:      225 millimeters by 355 millimeters

Artists who want to draw larger than standard-sized art boards are free to do so -- as long as they do the math so that their pages are proportional to a standard art board. If they want to draw at 25% larger, they must be sure the bleed box, trim box, and live area box are all 25% larger than the specs provided -- width AND height.


INKING the bleed line:
Inkers take note -- inking the bleed line -- all around the bleed box -- would be a great aid in the lettering and pre-press process. On BOTH bleed pages -- and non-bleed pages.  (If using pre-printed art boards, inking the crop marks in the corners achieves the same helpful effect.)

Why pre-ruled art boards don't print the bleed line or the crop marks in black is something of a mystery.

The inked bleed line would never see print anyway, but would aid others in the production process.  It's is not yet standard procedure, but would be very handy in the age of computer scans where the blue line on the art does not survive the scanning process to the scan file.

In this age, when inked pages are scanned and delivered electronically, the letterer and pre-press person generally has to guess if the various pages are bleed or non-bleed (since he has no access to the original art to see the where the blue lines are in relation to the inked borders).  Some pages are more obvious than others based on their layout, while some may look like non-bleed pages but are actually bleed pages.  It'd be a shame for a bleed page to print as a non-bleed page.

So I urge inkers to ink the bleed line box all around -- OR ink the corner crop marks.  When the scans go to the letterer or to the pre-press person, the inked [and therefore clearly visible] bleed line (or crop marks) acts as a handy guide to format lettering properly or to crop for print.  

The alternative is for the penciller to note at the page's top if the page is bleed or not -- in ink, so the note survives the scanning process intact to the scan file.

With the bleed line or crop marks inked or with a note at the top, the letterer can create lettering that fits the page properly, and the pre-press person doesn't have to guess how to crop the page for print.

Dealing with double-page spreads:
A true double page spread includes at least one panel that "spreads" across the center of two pages. Sometimes, it's a large action panel that spreads from one side of one page to the other side of another page and top to bottom, to create one large panel.

And double-page spreads are many times full-bleed on all four sides, but don't have to be. Lettering, of course, cannot fall in the center dividing line unless one wants dialogue balloons that are very difficult to read in the final printed book.

Contrary to popular misconception, double page spreads are not actually twice the width of a regular comics art board.

Here's the real deal -- the left hand page's right side trim line should butt up against the right hand page's left side trim line. That means -- to prepare art boards for a two-page spread -- one must CUT OFF one side of one art board at the trim line -- then cut off the opposite side of another art board -- at the trim line.



Artists may cut with a ruler and an Exacto-blade, or use a paper cutter with a steady hand, but should never use scissors... it should be a straight cut!

After cutting, put the two trim lines together and tape on the back. Skipping the cutting step results in artwork that's TOO WIDE for printing.


A simple pre-press fix would be to chop off the art at the sides -- and throw off the whole composition of two entire pages. Not a great solution, so avoid this consequence.

A farewell note:
This four-part series is an expanded version of a free PDF handout that I put together and passed around to new clients to better educate new artists and keep them from falling into bad habits.  I hope this has been an informative journey to all those who took it with me.

I'll be back with other information on professional techniques and procedures on the creation of printed comic books in the coming weeks, including script format for writers, the basics of scheduling and deadlines, finding and working with an artist or writer, managing time on a series, etc.

Anyone wishing to suggest a topic is welcome to do so.  If I think I have enough insight about the topic to address it, I shall do so.

About the author:
Kurt Hathaway has been a comics freelancer for 25 years. His client list reads like a who's who of publishers: DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Eclipse, Malibu, and tons of others. He has thousands of lettering credits including two for Newsweek and Esquire magazines. A DC editor nicknamed him "The Comics Commando" for his timely delivery of deadline work.

He letters the webcomics "Master Jesus" and "Chicago 1968" both written by Len Kody.

In addition to lettering and logos, Kurt Hathaway's Cartoon Balloons Studio does custom font design, page/book/magazine design, pre-press (setting up press files for the printer), and animated motion graphics for video projects.

Anyone interested in cussing him out or working with him can reach him at:   khathaway1@socal.rr.com

Offline Rob

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Re: Bleed Art Pages for Print - Part 4
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2010, 10:38:21 PM »
Amazing series Kurt. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. I'm very much looking forward to the next article.  ;D

Offline KyleJ

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Re: Bleed Art Pages for Print - Part 4
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2010, 01:07:07 PM »
Thanks for the great tutorials!  They're very helpful to me.  I have one question about double-page spreads.

Because a double-page spread is made by joining the two inner trims lines, does this affect the live/trim/bleed lines on the outer edges?

In other words, are the guides (for live, trim and bleed) on the outer edges still accurate?

It would seem to me that if you inked and colored to the outer bleed lines they would perhaps be short and you'd end up with white on the outer borders. (since the former inner trim lines are now bleed lines - and hence, each page is narrower?).  Does the live, trim and bleed guide lines on the outer edges need to be pushed out and "widened" a bit to compensate for that?  Maybe I'm missing something here, or simply overthinking this.  Your insights would be greatly appreciate!

Offline KHathaway

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Re: Bleed Art Pages for Print - Part 4
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2010, 12:20:10 PM »
Geez--I just wrote a whole long post to answer and I lost the page.

Here's the new short version.


Because a double-page spread is made by joining the two inner trims lines,
does this affect the live/trim/bleed lines on the outer edges?

//No--if you DON'T meet the trim lines in the middle, the art will be too wide.


In other words, are the guides (for live, trim and bleed) on the outer edges still accurate?

//Yes.

It would seem to me that if you inked and colored to the outer bleed lines they would perhaps
be short and you'd end up with white on the outer borders. (since the former inner trim lines are now bleed lines - and hence, each page is narrower?). 

//The trim lines aren't now bleed lines...maybe that's where you're going off track.  They're still trim lines.

In the complicated pre-press stage--setting up the graphics files for the printer--each page in a spread "borrows" some art from its neighbor at the center to create a new bleed area--so there's actually some art overlap in the pre-press files--but when that extra art [remember, all art between trim line and bleed line is cut off] is cut off at the printer, the spread prints like it's supposed to.

Maybe that clears it up??

But this is very technical, and has nothing to do with the art-creation, production stage--which is what the original article is about.

Anyone reading this drawing a two-page spread, just follow the directions in the article and you'll be fine.


Does the live, trim and bleed guide lines on the outer edges need to be pushed out and "widened" a bit to compensate for that?

//No--by meeting the boards at the center at the trim line you're making what would have been a too-wide spread into a proper spread--so it's not too narrow.

If the art boards are not cut at the trim line and are rather just butted up next to each other, then the spread would be waaay too wide and too much art would need to get chopped off at the sides in the print stage.  This may result in heads, faces, hands, or other important art not getting into the printed book [depending on the composition, of course].



Best,

Kurt Hathaway
Cartoon Balloons Studio

Lettering / Logos / Fonts / Pre-Press / Page Design / Motion Graphics
for Print or Web / Entertainment, Advertising or Education!

My AIM screen name:  Kurt Hathaway
contact me anytime

Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETGevjPkZso


Offline KyleJ

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Re: Bleed Art Pages for Print - Part 4
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2010, 12:34:22 PM »
Thanks a lot!  It definitely clears up my concerns from a practical standpoint, and I'm very appreciative (i.e. I don't have to worry, or overthink that if I have a double page spread with outer bleeds that any white will show).  From a geeky, anal standpoint, I'm still though curious about the theory behind it (i.e. the printing process) that makes this so.  From my logic (that I'm sure is flawed here), some bleed often shows even after the trim lines are cut - that's why we have to draw/color to them if we don't want any white ... If for double page spreads you could just cut off the inner bleeds (which in effect would not have anything on them), why then would no white show up in-between the page (since the inner trims are still trim lines, not bleed lines, and there's nothing on the other side of them)?  And in the inverse, on a normal page (i.e. not double spread), if the inner trim lines are so rock solid why would inner page bleed lines ever come into play on a printed page?  Sorry if I'm beating a dead horse here.  I'm anal by nature!