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Main Content => Art => Topic started by: Funderbunk on August 10, 2010, 07:05:23 AM

Title: Question about books
Post by: Funderbunk on August 10, 2010, 07:05:23 AM
Not sure if this is in the right forum, but here goes:

Okay, I'm doing some preliminary work on a long form comic that I recently had the idea for. It is my ultimate goal to get it printed at some point - if not to sell, then just to have it myself and give away (I'm not doing it for fame or fortune but because I want to :D). Since I'm starting out with the goal of getting it printed right off the bat, I'd like to know some stuff about printing first so I don't have to go through it later and change everything, but I have pretty much zero knowledge about printing books.

Are there any standard sizes? How much DPI should I work on for my digital files? Are there general amounts of pages that I should keep to? Is there any other advice you guys have about printing?
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Largento on August 10, 2010, 11:29:45 AM
If you are really wanting just to do the vanity press thing, check out someplace like Ka-Blam that will print very small runs (even a single book.)

They have templates you can download and all the information you need to know. I've been looking at Ka-Blam lately for a graphic novel that I just want samples of so I know they have downloadable templates that have the live/trim/bleed areas marked out. They print strictly from 300dpi tiff files.

It's smart to consider all of these things *before* you start.

Since what I'm doing started as comic strips and I'm reformatting them into comic book pages, I've had to consider things like type size. Obviously, it needs to be large enough to read on screen at the size you display it, but large lettering looks odd in modern day printed comics, where sometimes the lettering gets *really* small. I do all of my lettering in Illustrator, so it wasn't difficult to change this when I reformatted, but if you do it in Photoshop, make sure you keep layered files so that you can adjust when the time comes to print. Or you can try to find a happy medium that is big enough to read on screen, but doesn't look giant on the printed page.

In my case, this was a plus, because the benefit of reformatting the pages into comic book pages was allowing for more of the art to be seen. Increasing the size of the art and decreasing the size of the lettering and balloons really made a difference in that regard.

Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Funderbunk on August 10, 2010, 02:59:08 PM
Awesome advice, thanks!
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Rob on August 10, 2010, 09:08:54 PM
I've learned tons about the process... but having not been through it myself yet I hesitate to offer advice on it. Not that I care because it really isn't all that big of a deal.. but a thread about books would be better off in the merch section. Being that books are merch and all and the process of getting them made is without a doubt part of that process.

But like i said, no biggie.  ;)
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Funderbunk on August 11, 2010, 05:51:37 AM
Yeah, I thought that too, but then most of my questions were about ho to make my art ready for it so that felt very "art-section", hah.

Anyway, tell us what you've learned anyway!
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Kate on August 13, 2010, 05:17:46 AM
I'm thinking about the same thing right now, actually. Just realized that since I do have plans to print CyberGen 2027, I'm going to need to know a bit about what formats are needed as I'm going ahead on the web.

I'm going to pick some brains over at Free Lunch Comics this Saturday while I'm there, I'll be sure to relay anything I learn to you here. They've done a bunch of print comics, including Sky Pirates of Valendor (http://www.skypiratesofvalendor.com/) and Free Lunch Comics (http://www.freelunchcomics.com/), so hopefully they'll have some good advice for us. They always have before. ^_^
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Gar on August 13, 2010, 05:33:46 AM
Oooh, see if you can lure some of them over here! The independent publisher viewpoint would be good to add some more of to the mix (Swinsea needs a rival :P )
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Rob on August 14, 2010, 07:16:03 PM
I didn't want to answer right away because I wanted to ask Lar if it was ok to quote him here and share our e-mail exchange.

Awhile back when I was first kicking Remedy back to life I sent Lar deSouza of Blind Ferret a series of questions about file prep with the intention of getting my comics printed at some point. Here is his response. I hope it helps. It certainly helped me.

Hey Rob :)
Gonna try to answer your questions in and around doing other stuff this morning so apologies in advance if things sound a little disjointed. From the looks of things though, I don't think you've got any worries about resolution and quality. I'll get into that as I answer your questions.
>Since Corey pencils and inks traditionally what resolution should he scan the images in at?
The standard for print files is 300 dpi. Your typical 3000 pixels wide file therefore is a very printable 10 inches. However, many artists will scan their inks in even higher, around 600 pixels, to ensure really crisp lines and any clean up in the scans is easier to do. Then sizing it down to the 300dpi setting will tighten them up even further :)
>What DPI should he use when cleaning up and coloring the images in Photoshop?
As above. Scan the line art at higher than 300dpi to clean it up. I would scale it down from there to 300dpi and colour it. I do everything at 300dpi but I am working directly digital so it's convenient since I have no clean up to do.
>What color range should he stay in when coloring? I know CMYK generally but is there a Pantone palette you think we should stick to if we want our files to be usable by widest range of printers?
That's an excellent idea, except that Pantones do not always show well on screen. That's the issue. Screen is RGB, print is CMYK and it needs to look good in both.  Simply changing colour mode without taking this into consideration can sometimes result in unpleasant shifts.  Have Corey read the Help section on Gamut in Photoshop.
Here is my best work around though :) and it's worked well for me forever. I create my strips in RGB mode, which saves me a bit of resource strain. And I keep a small separate window open that is in CMYK colour mode and I mix my colours in it and only use the CMYK sliders as well. Photoshop's default color profile also includes a setting to prevent ink output values from exceeding 300% (this means that any print won't be so saturated with ink that it affects paper or printers). Worth doublechecking but it should be the default.
>What file formats should he save the files under? Obviously he will need to convert the files to RGB, 72 DPI for the web and then save them as JPEG's (I assume JPEG is the best choice) but other than saving the original PSD what format is best for saving for the printer? Tiff?
For the web, the dpi is really irrelevant if the pixel size is correct. :)  For the web, jpeg, png or gif. PNG or GIF are actually the best for the net since they were made for it and they load easier. Jpegs are fine though. Choose a reasonable compression rate if you go JPEG. It's not always necessary to go full maximum. Also, images for the net should be in RGB or Indexed colour mode, NOT cmyk.
In my experience printers prefer cmyk tiff or cmyk pdf. It's always best to check with your individual printer before each project though as technology changes. I recently gave a printer a standard cmyk pdf and the colours came out all wrong! It was for a piece of merchandise and it turned out the machine that did the prototype actually used RGB algorithms!
Depending on the product, such as a tshirt, they may want a vector image, like a vector PDF or an AI (Adobe Illustrator) file. That's a whole other issue to deal with if/when it comes up.
>Anything else you can think of that will help me guide him in the right direction. I'm really trying to avoid the nightmare so many webcomics seem to have when they go to print their first book.
Do it right the first time and you don't have to do it again! :) That's why I had to redraw the early LICDs! Neither Trevor nor Sohmer understood the necessity of the larger file sizes *just in case* they ever wanted to print them. Here we are what…7? 8? years later and we can't print them.
Sorry to have taxed your patience by taking for-damn-ever to reply! :) I hope the information is still useful for you.

Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Funderbunk on August 16, 2010, 07:39:39 AM
Wow, awesomes.
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Kate on August 17, 2010, 06:49:56 AM
Wow yeah that was super useful!

What I got from Free Lunch was mostly a recommendation to print through http://www.ka-blam.com (http://www.ka-blam.com) and check out the options and costs for different things there. Does anyone know any alternate print on demand companies? I want to do a quick cost comparison before I start a short run I'm doing for Intervention. (I'm going to also ask Scott from http://ralfthedestroyer.com (http://ralfthedestroyer.com) and Jennifer from http://lasalleslegacy.com (http://lasalleslegacy.com) since I know they did small runs for Connecticon and Otakon. If their responses differ from any here, I'll post the companies they used too).
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Gar on December 30, 2010, 07:29:50 AM
Doing a little bit of thread necromancy here, but all the stuff above is still relevant so I'm launching a tangent rather than a new thread.

What kind of page count should we be aiming for with books? I've got more than enough material to fill a couple of books, and the audience is growing to a point where I'd be able to sell a small-ish print run.

The original black-and-white run of Neko the Kitty would fill about 300 pages. That's a good page count for a novel, but for comics would I be better off splitting it between a couple of books or offering it as a single volume? The big book would be best value for the readers, but with a smaller profit margin for me. It'd be cheaper for the readers than three 100-page books, but more expensive than one, so I'm not sure what the best balance of value and profitability would be.
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Richard on December 30, 2010, 10:08:53 AM
Honestly Gar with what you've described you'd probably be better off starting with a small run of 100 page books.

If you start off with 300 page books they will obviously cost more money per book to print and you run the risk of a greater loss in the short run.

I'd probably recommend starting a "pre-order sale" at your website and give yourself a stated amount of orders you need before you would order. You can offer something like a signed artist's edition with a sketch in the front for the pre-orders and then the rest would be "regular" once you started to print.

Just a thought.
Title: Re: Question about books
Post by: Rob on December 30, 2010, 05:33:51 PM
Richard probably knows better than I do... but what I plan on doing is offering a year or strips per book. Since my Remedy update schedule is 3 days a week that's 156 strips per book. I'll add some small amount of exclusive stuff but for the most part that's what "Vol. 1" will be for me. And since I didn't really publish them over the space of a calender year (I tried but things didn't work out with the first artist) Volume 1 will work better for me than 2009 or 2010. But if you published enough in a year for a book you can break it down like that too.

I like the number 156. I think it makes for a decent book size.... not too stingy on the content and not too pricey for me. But that's really just my gut instinct. No appreciable "evidence" is being used here although I certainly will be sharing sales figures once things start selling.