In large publishing houses that work with comic books and graphic artists, independent marketing teams usually work on page size and resolution before sending the draft to be inked or printed.
Interestingly, many professional comic book artists and writers don’t know about page size and resolution because they don’t have to take care of that particular task in the printing process.
However, knowing how to set your page size and resolution correctly will save you money and let you keep creative control over your project. Handing over a completed, properly sized file will make the journey from idea to inception that much quicker.
Here’s what you need to know about page sizes and resolution if you’re getting your comic book created by professionals like those at Comix Well Spring.
Dots Per Inch
These days, most printing is handled digitally. Images are scanned into computers and manipulated through keyboards and mouses. To get a crisp, clean image with excellent shading, detail, and color, you need to use the right dpi.
Dpi stands for “dots per inch.” A printer creates an image by depositing tiny dots of color onto a page. The more dots the printer lays down, the crisper the image; this is referred to as resolution. A high-resolution image looks crisp and clear because it has a lot of dots. On the other hand, lower resolution images have more space between each printed dot, so they’re fuzzier.
Platforms like billboards work best as low-res images because they’re seen from far away. Art like comic books or graphic novels looks best with high resolution, although there are some instances, like a landscape-oriented comic when low resolution makes sense.
You want to have at least 400 dpi for comics. You can go higher theoretically, but there are a few reasons to avoid an exorbitantly high dpi. First, a majority of offset printers can only handle 400 dpi. Secondly, it takes up a lot of space on your files, and if you’re not using a speedy computer, it can take a long time.
There are scenarios when a higher dpi is laudatory. If you know an image may be turned into a banner or other larger project down the road, a high dpi might be more attractive, but this rarely becomes an issue. You’ll most likely want your finished product to be as professional-looking as possible.
For a clear delineation between cels and text bubbles, you want your comic book printed at 400 dpi.
Page Size and Print Size
The term print size describes the final size of a printed product is “print size.” If you scan something that is 5.5” x 8.5”, but you want a print size of 11” x 8”, you will need to double the scale for your final print size.
These two elements, print size and resolution, work together to create a clean, sharp image with easy to read dialogue and captions. If you scan an image at 8.5” x 11”, but only at 72 dpi, it will be blurry.
For a standard comic book printed in America, the size is 6.875” by 10.438” inches bleed – the space that bleeds over – but 6.625 by 10.187 inches trim. The standard DPIs for popular presses range from 400 at Dark Horse to 600 at DC.
Other Terms to Know
- Trim Size – The paper of a comic book is cut to size after it’s printed, a process that is known as trimming. In mass-produced, offset printing, this is done at top-speed and in batches. In most cases, two comics will have dissimilar edges to their panels due to trimming comics en masse.
- Live Area – This estimate is what will be left of the comic after the trim cut. All the lettering should fall in the live area, at least .25 inches away from the trim.
- Bleeds – This area falls outside the trim cut in case the edges shift in the printing process. If you want to produce an image that reaches the edges of the page, you should draw past the trim to the bleed.
- Panel – Also called a frame or a box, this is a square that contains one piece of the action. Panels are used to map out a string of events in a narrative. The way the panel is shaped, how big it is, and whether it is outlined all affect the story’s pacing.
- Tier – One row of panels is called a tier.
- Gutter – This is the space between the panels, and there can be both vertical and horizontal gutters. Oftentimes, the horizontal ones will be wider than the vertical gutters to facilitate easy reading.
- Splash – Often the opening page, this defines a full-page illustration. Aesthetically beguiling, it’s intended to make a splash and hook the reader’s attention.
The Final Word
If you’re a comic book writer and artist or aspiring to be one, it’s crucial to understand the terms and layout of a comic book, especially page size and drops per inch, or dpi. The more you know, the more firmly you can retain control over your finished project, and the more professional it will look in the end.
Comix Well Spring can help you print beautiful, professional comic books. We have an array of paper options and sizes, as well as resolution sizes. Our friendly and communicative staff will lead you through the process every step of the way.