View Full Version : File output resource

12-09-2012, 12:20 PM
Hi everyone!

As a completely self taught letterer, I'm always worried that I'm not doing some small thing correctly that will have a big impact on the appearance of my work.

I've recently read a bunch of great posts scattered throughout this board with tips for outputting files for various purposes and I was wondering if there is a good single resource (book, website, etc) that explains all the nuances of outputting files in a step-by-step manner?

Most of the lettering I've done has been for my own projects or other indie creators (no big publisher work...yet), so the production work often falls to me and I want to make sure I'm doing things correctly and outputting the most professional quality work I can.

A little background:
- I always work from Tiff files, usually the final colored hi res art (occasionally I've lettered the bw pages to get ahead and then transferred the lettering to colored pages as they were completed).
- After creating outlines and overprinting the blacks, I export my files directly from illustrator as CMYK TIFF files.
- I also export RGB jpgs so I (or the client) has samples for posting to the web.

A few things I'm interesting in checking on are:
1. What are acceptable file sizes for output files?
2. Should I be creating PDF's instead of TIFFs for my print ready files?
3. Should I be using indesign? I personally have not had the opportunity to work directly with a printer yet, so I'm worried there are some elements of this process that I might not be aware of.
4. Sometimes I'm sent tiff files that are in RGB mode other times they are in CMYK. When I letter (always in K100), and then export as CMYK Tiff files, am I messing something up?

I have Illustrator, Photoshop and Indesign (but I have no idea how to use Indesign yet).

Thanks in advance to anyone that helps out here. If there is a book or website that goes into this stuff that would be great. If not, well I guess that means there might be a market for one :-)

- Adam

Jason Arthur
12-09-2012, 04:05 PM
The DC Comics Guide to Lettering and Coloring is awesome for this info (read both sections for the best insight into both processes).

You can check it out at your local library for free, but I'd recommend just buying it outright:

DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering (http://www.amazon.com/DC-Comics-Guide-Coloring-Lettering/dp/0823010309/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1355086884&sr=8-1&keywords=dc+comics+guide+to+coloring+and+lettering +comics)

Where I first learned from was:

That site is by the Comicraft guys, who also have a book on lettering that's worth a buy:

Comicraft Lettering Book (http://www.amazon.com/Comic-Book-Lettering-Comicraft-Way/dp/0974056731/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1355086912&sr=1-1&keywords=comicraft+lettering+comics)

If you have specific questions you can hit me up anytime at jasonarthur.com@gmail.com

I've also made a few tips/tricks videos on Youtube:
(nothing specific to production YET, but I'm working on it)

12-09-2012, 07:09 PM
Hey Jason!

Thanks for the response. I'll definitely get that DC book.

I've relied pretty heavily on comicraft so far. I purchased the small lettering book when I first got started and it definitely helped me out a lot.

I'm as equally interested in the "why's" as the "how to's" when it comes to all this stuff. I don't have an artistic background, so I'm basically learning everything about printing, color, etc from the ground up. I've learned pretty quickly that if you want to make the best comics that you can, you have to know more than just the creative side -- at least in independent/creator owned books.

I'll hang on to your email in case something comes up, but don't worry, it'll be a "break in case of emergency" thing.

If you're interested, here is my site. I have a few samples on there. Plus, the first issue of my next project is just about done, so I"ll be posting up some samples of that soon.


12-10-2012, 11:29 AM
DEFINITELY make a point of learning the whys and wherefores, Adam. It'll stand you in good stead.

There are some clients out there who'll prize your ability to provide good quality pages for print over your ability to ape any given lettering style. It's certainly worked for me.

You may find, as you go along, that some clients will be happy to help you with certain aspects of preparing files for print.

My personal philosophy is: The client should have the pre-press information. If you need to ask for it, they should provide it. If you have questions, or don't understand something, then they should be willing to answer. It's not wrong to not know stuff.

Best of luck!

12-10-2012, 12:57 PM
It's not wrong to not know stuff.

Not only this, but it's incredibly risky to assume stuff, too. I worked in pre-press and repro for over ten years, have lettered about 20,000 pages for at least a dozen publishers and clients and the first thing I still do when I get a new gig is ask for a contact on their production side and request a full specification for how they want their files.



12-13-2012, 10:52 AM
HdE and Jim, thanks for the replies!

A few times I've been hired to letter books that don't have a production side, an attached publisher, or printer yet. In this situation I just make sure I give them CMYK Tifs and RGB jpgs, and that the files are clearly labeled and are returned to the client in the same size as I received them (unless there is something really unwieldy about them).

Most often, projects like these are offered to me by aspiring writers/artists who don't have a strong foothold in the industry yet. The one common thread is that we love comics and we want to make good comics. So, in addition to giving them basic files, I make myself available if anything needs changed once they have contacted a printer. It's apparent to me that many times the relationships we forge with our fellow creators is just as important as the quality of work we produce.

Speaking off... I should probably get to work! Thanks again, you all are great!

- Adam