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Author Topic: WORKING WITH FILE NAMES THAT MAKE SENSE  (Read 14634 times)

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Offline Rob

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« on: November 04, 2010, 10:41:55 AM »

By Kurt Hathaway of

This week, I'll discuss the process of creating and using file names that allow the least amount of confusion.

With every production element of both webcomics AND print projects being created and/or stored on a hard drive, the use of proper file names is ever more important.

Too many times, as a letterer for print projects, I'm given art scans that don't seem to follow any naming convention whatsoever.

Many times, the page 1 I get is called.

01.tif or 01.jpeg

With no mention of the title or issue number.  Oftentimes it comes in weeks after I made my deal with the client, and I have to contact the sender and ask what book it's for.  Only then can I locate the job folder [I have up to a dozen job folders going at once] and put it where it belongs in the correct job folder.

Page 2 might be:


Better, sure... there's a code for the book's title, but still no issue number.

Ignoring issue numbers is especially common on first issues, but if the project is an ongoing series or even a mini-series, the issue number is extremely important.

It may be relatively easy to organize files on a one shot or first issue, but when a project reaches issue 3, 4 or 5, or better, it becomes a nightmare to keep files straight unless a plan for file naming is employed.

Same with webcomics that are released on a weekly or semi-weekly basis.  When a webcomic is later being considered for a print release, it's a good idea to have all the web-related files named in an orderly fashion to facilitate the pre-press that is needed prior to going to press. Better to address this as the original files are being created rather than later.

The basic concept is pretty simple... then gets more complex.

The three most important elements up front are the:

                   Project title
                   Issue number
                   Page number

As with all things comics-related, there are no hard and fast rules, just a bit of common sense.

A file name may start out like this:


That would be "Superguy" issue 1, page 1.  Followed by the file suffix [.tif, .jpeg, .eps--whatever].



If your project is "The All-Amazing Interstellar Adventures of McTavish Magillicuddy", you'd want to create a code that's much shorter.  File names can hold only so many characters.


The overall idea with file naming is to be consistent with all files.  So create a system and pass it along to the penciller so he can name his files properly as he scans them... to the inker, too... the letterer... and anyone else who is creating files for the project at hand.

The fourth bit of information would be the form in which the page is when named... a pencilled page?  An inked page?  A colored page?  The lettering?

Depending, the file name may look like:


PCL = Pencilled page, no inks yet
INK = Inked page, no color
LTR = Lettered page
CLR = Colored page

Many times, the file suffix can act as a clue, also.  You can often tell a proof file from a working file by its suffix code.

A proof file is intended to be proofread only [for color fixes, checking lettering spelling, balloon placement, etc]... not intended for print or public distribution. It's also often a smaller, low-resolution file that can be sent quickly via email to the project leader for their approval.

The Jpeg suffix tells us this color file is a proof.


Unless it's the final uploaded file for a webcomic.


Web-comics creators may even want to use a date code -- perhaps the release date of their comic's installment.


That'd be Crazy Cat Girl webcomic due for release on December 16, 2010

And while many webcomics are uploaded to the web as jpegs, any web-creator with an eye on print projects should be working with color tiffs as their master color file, not jpegs.

A pdf lettering file would be a proof only... for the editor to proofread and make suggestions to correct... or approve, if satisfactory.  The final lettering file would be an .eps or .ai file.


And don't forget the all-important version numbers.  All contributors should be using version numbers in their file names to keep all changes up-to-date and easy to track.  If they don't, the wrong version may make its way to the printer.

Eventually, your final pre-press PRINT files will be a 300 dpi color tif [for color projects]...


Or a 300 dpi Black-White tif [for BW projects].  Jpegs are too low-quality for most print jobs.  Jpegs are fine for proofs, but not much more.


Also included in your pre-press files would be the final lettering files.  Lettering files are lettering only with no art -- just as the art files are art only with no lettering.  They are layered in the pre-press process prior to going to the printer.


And don't forget those non-numbered pages, such as covers and inside covers.


CVR = Cover
IBC = Inside Back Cover
IFC = Inside Front Cover
BC = Back Cover

Another way to keep your files tidy is to use folders and proper folder names.  A folder for pencils, another for inks, etc.  The master folder would be your project title and issue number only.


Inside folders would offer more information:

Superguy_01 - Pencils - LowRez
Superguy_01 - Pencils - HiRez
Superguy_01 - Inks - HiRez
Superguy_01 - Letters - PDF Proofs
Superguy_01 - Letters - Final EPS
Superguy_01 - Colors - JPEG Proofs
Superguy_01 - Colors - HiRez Tiffs
Superguy_01 - Logos

Getting your file-naming system in place early will save you and your co-creators lots of headaches in the future.

As your project progresses, you may find a need to include even more information in the file name.  Maybe the artists' initials if you're working with more than one.

But consistency is the key to locating the file you're looking for when you're embroiled in the production of issue 6 and 7 simultaneously.

Hope this helped, and good luck with all your files!

About the author:
Kurt Hathaway studied art & design at the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and studied film and screenwriting at New York University's world-famous film department.

He's 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.

He's written material for Image Comics, DC Comics, Antarctic Press, Electronic Arts Playstation Division, and ABC/Disney Television. He wrote the Sci-Fi farcical webcomic "Doc Atomic" - now offline.

He's currently writing the comic series "Dawn of the Dread Force" for Jaran Studios. Dreadforce.com

Also, anyone with comments, gripes, huzzahs or those who just want to get in touch to pick his brain, can reach him at: [email protected]

Kurt's online lettering gallery of samples.

His studio's promo video:

Kurt's demo reel of Animated Motion Graphics.

His short-projects video Editing Reel.

A short horror web-comic he did waaay back.

Offline Rob

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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2010, 10:49:12 AM »
I expect that when I have enough Remedy comics for a book I'll be looking at renaming most of my files in light of much of what is said here.

But we do need a different system for our server to work properly. Remedial Comics uses a date first file format that goes date first and then title with underscores in between each word. So a typical file name, for example the most recent comic, looks like this:


You'll notice that the year is first followed by the month and day. Chadm1n can probably explain it better than I can but essentially this keeps all the files in order. If you were to go month-day-year which is more typical here in the U.S. there would be issues with files showing up out of order.

When we do have enough comics for a book (about 3-4 months from now) we'll be looking to set up the whole book and that will include renaming all the files to a more appropriate format for printing.

Offline tmoverbeck

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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2010, 08:13:09 PM »
For my file names, I put the comic number first, and then the date after it. That's worked out quite well for me.
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Offline Gar

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« Reply #3 on: November 14, 2010, 06:23:55 AM »
My file names are all just the publication date in the year/month/day configuration too. I do a hi-res save in one folder and a web size save in a separate folder with the same filename for either image. Would the file names need to be reformatted for a book? Given that the existing file naming puts everything in the correct order anyway and the suitable-for-print versions are in their own folder it seems kind of redundant to change them.

Offline KHathaway

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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2010, 01:52:35 PM »
For my file names, I put the comic number first, and then the date after it. That's worked out quite well for me.//


Yeah, the use of these kinds of rules really depends on what you're organizing/producing.  If you're making only one series, this will work fine.  Trouble may come, though, when you add a new series to your existing series.

All issue 3 files may get mixed together--depending, of course, on how you set up your folders.

But with one series title, it should be fine.


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