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Old 08-05-2009, 03:21 PM   #1
Jason Arthur
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Let's talk about... handling art

So this week, let's talk about one of the most frustrating things an indie letterer has to face: artwork that isn't properly sized.

You'd think artists would know the size they need to work at by this point. If they're making money on this then they should have a working knowledge of the dimensions at which they can work.

So, let's hear it. Horror stories, backtalking artists, your last-second solutions. Spill them beans.

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Old 08-05-2009, 03:46 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JasonArthur
So this week, let's talk about one of the most frustrating things an indie letterer has to face: artwork that isn't properly sized.
The last four jobs I've had to do have all been drawn by artists (two of who are supposed to have worked for larger publishers like Image) who haven't understood the significance of the Live area. They've all filled the page to the full extent of the bleed, and then butted their panel borders up to the trim line.

Four of 'em in a row. When you point this out, you get a blank look followed by "Is that something you can fix at your end?"

What's worse, is that two of those b*stards have habitually composed their panels with the first speaker on the right. Three speaking characters and every frickin' time, they draw them in the opposite order to the order that they're speaking.

"But I put all that empty space on the left of the panel for the dialogue," they complain.

Yes. You did. And then you drew two complete characters in between the first speaker and the dead space, you steaming eejit.

Gaah!

Jim

(So glad I signed up for this forum. I feel better already.)
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:19 PM   #3
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woo boy! i love this thread already!

you say you'd think they would know...but i've yet to have one single artist or colorist send me files sized correctly. ONE inker actually gets it right every time and with a smile on his face, beyond that...nada.

my horror story is funny, and pretty sad. i was lettering a book for some other small pressers, doing it pretty much for free. i think i got $50 a book for 24 pages, so that's like $2 a page. not completely free but close enough, and for the hassle...i did it for free trust me.

anyway, i'm getting pages and i'm having to re-size them of course, because the artist hadn't a clue about output file sizes or anything. he just "scanned it real big" and sent it off. he also had no concept of safe, trim, or bleed, and typically would work in, around, and beyond all those lines on the SAME PAGE making it a nightmare to re-size and keep everything correct. one panel in one corner is to the trim, another one right under that goes out to the bleed, etc and it just made my life hell when it came time to re-size letter and export.

but i did it. in the spirit of helping out some good people, i did it.

but then i start getting emails saying "Hey you're screwing up the pages. You cut off part of the panel!" i replied that yes, i did cut off a portion of the panel that had no meaningful art in it because there was no other way to bring it into my template and have it work right! (I also took the time to redraw the panel border in so you couldn't tell it was cut off, and it looked very natural. he also overlooked the fact that i fixed all the screwed up gutters they'd typically send me as well, making them all uniform and far more professional in appearance.)

they come back and say "Well the guy that's publishing the book says they don't want you using the template, just letter it exactly as we send it to you."

*sigh* so i replied that if they wanted the files the correct size, ie height and width, i needed to re-size it to the template for export. plus it makes my job a lot faster and all the pages come out the same size and are print ready. i also explained that if i lettered it at the size they sent it, they'd never re-size it down to print size and still have the letters look even remotely right.

then they got nasty. i got this scathing letter back saying so and so publisher has been doing comics for ages and they aren't some fly by night organization! they know what they're talking about just do it! now keep in mind that to this point i've been nothing but cordial, and i've done my very best to educate them as tot he process so they can at least understand where i'm coming from. couple that with the fact that this "publisher" hadn't so much as put out a single book. ever. so yeah, when i got the nasty letter it took me about an hour to come down out of orbit.

so i lettered the two remaining pages, my way, and resigned. i'm not about to get into an email flame war over something i'm not even really getting paid enough to warrant the hassle. i told them thanks, but i'm done, find another whipping boy.

about two months later i get an email out of the blue, and it's the writer creator of the book in question. he sent a very sincere apology, saying that the next letterer had the same issues i did, and only then did they realize i wasn't full of shit. in fact, the artist had to start paying attention to what he was drawing, and holy smokes the new letterer was using a template just like mine because in fact those pesky outsized pages don't reproduce worth a damn in print and they're an absolute pain in the ass to re-size after the fact.

so yeah, it ended up being pretty funny really. but it still raises my blood pressure just talking about it. it's bad enough dealing with stupid issues they create for you and fixing them basically for free, but then to have to hear that after trying to help...no thanks. i doubt anyone could pay me enough to deal with that crap.
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Old 08-05-2009, 04:24 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimCampbell
When you point this out, you get a blank look followed by "Is that something you can fix at your end?"

lol that's freakin classic!!
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Old 08-05-2009, 05:58 PM   #5
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That is the EXACT part of Jim's post I was going to quote, Cary.

SO true... And what do we (well, I do anyways) always say?

I shouldn't HAVE to... *sigh* ... YES, I can fix it.

- Richard
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Old 08-05-2009, 06:43 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by r nelson

I shouldn't HAVE to... *sigh* ... YES, I can fix it.
That's the thing, though, isn't it? You do that little mental calculation and work out that, yes, I could actually fix this in less time than it will take me to explain what's wrong with this page, never mind tell you how to actually put it right ...

Cheers!

Jim
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:04 PM   #7
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I was involved with a few issues of a title where the page files were, of course, not sized, and the proportions were also, of course, not correct. It really was not apparent if they were supposed to be bleed pages or not because of the layout of the panels on many of the pages. The editor said to do my best with it. He was a friend and I was helping them at the time for less than peanuts.

Sometime later at a show I met the inker of that book and I mentioned to him the frustration I'd had with it, and he said, "Oh yeah, that was the guy who did his pages using manga proportions."
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Comix!
Sometime later at a show I met the inker of that book and I mentioned to him the frustration I'd had with it, and he said, "Oh yeah, that was the guy who did his pages using manga proportions."
lol it's right about then that you really wish you had the dark side of the FORCE so you could just choke him where he stands! "oh yeah sorry we failed to mention that. didn't think you needed to know!" rrrrr
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Old 08-06-2009, 08:08 PM   #9
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This used to be a big problem, but then Popgun came along which was a great motivator to find ways to get artists to resize their own crap. This is the result, and it's been a breeze ever since (open in Photoshop to see the live area guides):

http://popguncomics.com/single-page-template.tif
http://popguncomics.com/spread-template.tif

Download them, share them, give them to every single artist you come into contact with.

Be aware that some printers/publishers require different bleeds, so add the canvas accordingly. These live area guides are the best solution for trades though.

I've done other templates for other formats, but the info in there seems to work out well enough.

Make sure that LINEART gets resized to printsize before its sent on to colorists. That's how you can avoid problems with missing or incorrect bleed art.
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Old 08-06-2009, 09:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thomas Mauer
This used to be a big problem, but then Popgun came along which was a great motivator to find ways to get artists to resize their own crap. This is the result, and it's been a breeze ever since (open in Photoshop to see the live area guides):

http://popguncomics.com/single-page-template.tif
http://popguncomics.com/spread-template.tif

Download them, share them, give them to every single artist you come into contact with.

Be aware that some printers/publishers require different bleeds, so add the canvas accordingly. These live area guides are the best solution for trades though.

I've done other templates for other formats, but the info in there seems to work out well enough.

Make sure that LINEART gets resized to printsize before its sent on to colorists. That's how you can avoid problems with missing or incorrect bleed art.

I was going to post and give an illustrator's perspective, which is (was) basically what Thomas already posted. I made these same templates myself in PS for my own use and have correspondingly sized ones as .ait files in Illustrator. Always seemed like a no brainer.

chaz
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Old 08-06-2009, 11:33 PM   #11
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I'll have to check out the templates, but yeah, over the years, I've only worked with a handful of properly sized projects. The majority have no clue on trims, bleeds, etc., or proper sizes, or even proper proportions, and it sounds like I'm not alone. Heck, even artists I've worked with for years can't ever seem to send me properly sized pages even after me telling them what I need them to be.

That quote from Jim is something I hear all the time as well.
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Old 08-07-2009, 12:02 AM   #12
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This thread raises a question. And pardon me for my stupidity, but I'm new to lettering. This all started with trying to letter my own comic, which I must say was a rather pleasant experience, but anyways, here's the question.

Is there a standard size that the artist should do the pages in?

My artist scanned in his stuff at 300dpi at 11" x 15". I'm pretty sure the proportions are correct, but I'm not sure how this translates to a printed page.

The panel gutters are approximately a quarter inch at the outside of the page. And I made sure not to put any word balloons to close to the edge. Does all this sound right? I just keep hearing about the 11x17 art boards, which i know is the size of the page and not the drawing area.
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Old 08-07-2009, 01:01 AM   #13
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Most of you are lucky, you're only letterers. I ink, letter and color so I see 3 times the crap that you do. I ask about the print size at the beginning of the project and automatically resize (via photoshop) the pages before I get to work. I work with a lot of small press guys, so they don't even notice the resizing I do.

If something is way out of proportion and I'm not inking it, then I ask for advice or have them do it. Right now, I'm grayscaling pages for a property that's been around for in comics for 25 years. You would think that these guys have been doing it for 25 years, so they have it down.... nope. Every project, I've done for them has been off.

I deal with artist on a regular basis for my Warmageddon stuff (www.warmageddon.com). It's mostly magazine sized, but recently I've branched out into a square format. I give my guys the ratios at the beginning. I tell them the DPI to scan it at and I deal with all the image processing from there. Give me a 300 DPI scan at full size and I'm a happy man. most of the time.
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Old 08-07-2009, 10:06 AM   #14
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One thing I've learned is that the majority of artists aren't technically minded and don't really want to learn the nuts and bolts either. They just want to draw. So making printsize specs and how to get there as easy as possible is the best solution.

To that end, don't confuse them with the trim line. All artists need to know is that when their pages are resized to printsize, their panels need to be in the live area, and their bleed art needs to go right up to the document edge.

If you introduce the trim line and tell them stuff about the bleed, you'll often have the problem of their bleed art going right up to the trim line, and that's it. Not ideal, of course.

Ever since my previous templates were distilled into the ones linked above, the need for further explanations has been minimal. Out of about 300 artists over the last 2 years working on Popgun, I've only had 1 who didn't get it by reading the instructions. After a little more hand holding, he got it as well.

So now I don't even bother to resize except for a few rare instances when it's minor stuff and not worth the bother. I just send the template again and ask them to do it properly.
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:24 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sv9cannon
This thread raises a question. And pardon me for my stupidity, but I'm new to lettering. This all started with trying to letter my own comic, which I must say was a rather pleasant experience, but anyways, here's the question.

Is there a standard size that the artist should do the pages in?

My artist scanned in his stuff at 300dpi at 11" x 15". I'm pretty sure the proportions are correct, but I'm not sure how this translates to a printed page.

The panel gutters are approximately a quarter inch at the outside of the page. And I made sure not to put any word balloons to close to the edge. Does all this sound right? I just keep hearing about the 11x17 art boards, which i know is the size of the page and not the drawing area.
Tell your artist to scan at a minimum of 400dpi. 400-600dpi is the norm as it gives you more detail in fine lineart.

Keep in mind that standard comic size is 6.875x10.4375" (or 6.875x10.5" if you want to be on the safe side or not deal with too many fractions).

In Photoshop, create an 11x17" and an 11x15" file.

Resize both images to 6.875" width (comic size) and you'll get the following heights:

11x17" = 6.875x10.625"
11x15" = 6.875x9.375"

The 11x17" board just needs a little bit trimmed off at the bottom if you resize from the width.

The 11x15" board is missing 1.0625" document height after resizing from the width.

To get around this problem, you could resize from the height. You'd get the following:

11x15" = 7.655x10.4375"

As you can see, that leaves you with 0.78" more width than standard size, so live area guides have to be ruled differently on 11x15" and 11x17" boards.

If you don't want to do too much math, here's how:
  • Create a 6.875x10.4375" file with a white background.
  • Draw a 6x9.4375" box and center it. Change the fill color to black.
  • Deselect the top 6x9" of this box, so only the 6x0.4375" part at the bottom is selected and change the fill color to gray (that's how you get the properly laid out 6x9" live area version onto the template without a calculator).
FOR 11x17" BOARDS:
  • Resize the document to 11" wide
  • Add canvas at the BOTTOM to get a 17" height (anchor at top)
  • measured top margin: 0.8"
  • measured side margins: 0.7"
  • measured bottom margin (9" live area height): 1.807"
  • measured bottom margin (9.4375" live area height): 1.107"
FOR 11x15" BOARDS:
  • Resize the document to 15" high
  • Add canvas to get an 11" width (anchor at center)
  • measured top margin: 0.72"
  • measured side margins: 1.19"
  • measured bottom margin (9" live area height): 1.347"
  • measured bottom margin (9.4375" live area height): 0.72"

Depending on what kind of paper you work on, you rule these lines, decide which live area height on the final page you want to stick to, and that's how you get your properly sized live area.

After this, all the artist needs to do is:
  • Have all outer panel borders fall onto the live area guides.
  • Keep all essential artwork inside the live area.
  • Extend all potential bleed art to the edge of the art board.

Resizing becomes a snap, you won't even need those above templates, and the pages will always be at the correct size with no bleed art problems whatsoever.

Of course if you're drawing for different print dimensions, you'd have to measure the margins again after the above method. Shouldn't be a big problem though.
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