Planing a comics page out the first thing you need to do is decide what format will you publish it in, what aspect ratio or page size?
Webcomic? Graphic Novel [long form], Ero album, American pamphlet? Will your book be digital first or pint? Standard American comics typically are printed 6.63″ x 10.24″ (16.84 x 26.01 cm). European comics typically come hard bound, and 8.4″ x 11.6″ in (21×30 cm). Trade Paperback graphic novels vary widely, and there are a few standard sizes for Manga, Zines too. This is something we MUST resolve before we start drawing. So give it some thought.
For our course, students work will be collected so it needs to conform to the same aspect ratio to fit properly in the Syn-Thology at the end! For the Course, we’ve used a few, but I like the look of the Euro BD format so we’ll be using that. Just below you’ll find a set of templates here to use, both for your thumbnail roughs, and the final art. You can print them out, the thumbs template should fit on a standard sheet of cartridge paper 8.5″ x 11″. The full page can as well, or be blown up to larger formats. Most artists in the industry take advantage of working about 60% larger than print size, but I myself do some work size as, and use anywhere between a 20% and 80% enlargement, depending on how I want to work and the look i’m trying to get for the final printed or published form of the pages.
You’ll also find written on the templates the specs you need to measure things out by hand if you rather, or don’t have use of a larger printer. If you can print them yourself onto 11×17 inch or 11×14 inch bristol, you can use them to prepare your own blue line pages ready to draw on. I’ll post some other formats after.
On my templates, the innermost dotted area marked with an ‘S’ on the thumbs, is the “Safe Area”. In order to make sure it never gets too close to the crop or inner seam of the binding, no lettering or enclosed panels should normally fall outside this space.
On the single page templates there is a second smaller “Safe Area”, it’s the same thing, just bigger margins, so that if you happen to like larger margins around your page, as I sometimes do, you can use that.
The next line out from the “Safe Area” is the crop line. When the book is trimmed down after printing, this is where it will be cut approximately. Part of why the safe area is needed, is that the mechanical cropping is not always precise, and might vary by a fraction of a cm either way.
The final outer line is the “Bleed” marker. If you draw things going off the edge of the page, it must go past this point! And for the same reason we have a safe area, trimming being imprecise, we want some extra “Bleed” in the art so it runs off the printed page properly even if the cropping is off by a bit.
The thumbs include specs for alternate sizes to draw at, I myself seldom work at 11″ x 17″ anymore. But it’s still good to work larger than print size, to take advantage of how resizing the art for publication, tightens up our line and makes it often all look better.
For our class, you’ll have a few option when it comes to scale, it’s possible to do a lot of the work on even just standard 8.5×11″ paper from your printer. But working larger will be possible too. We’ll get into the pros and cons of either in class. For a while now for a few reasons, this is the format we’ll use during the course.
8.4″ x 11.6″ Euro BD album format page templates!
Most Belgian and European comics/BD are published in this format. It’s widely used around Quebec as well. And it provides for a bit more variety of page layout I think. it’s not quite as tall as the american comics dimensions, but often printed larger so really think of it as wider. Makes for great cinematic panels. and diversity in page flow.
That’s the one we’ll use in class, for the standard US format and others, read on!
Standard US comics format!
Right click [pc] or click and hold [mac] to save any of these files to your drive!
US comics are tall and skinny compared to other formats. It’s an attractive aspect ratio, and the most common you see this side of the Atlantic.
In Making Comics we focus on short stories. This is both to keep the workload during a 10 day intensive course manageable, and leave room for other short exercises and Jams we’ll do together. To help facilitate that, here’s a 6 page thumbnail sheet, showing page turns and facing spreads, assuming a typical right hand first page. For a three page story just use the top row, the bottom is then handy for further notations. Thumbnails are ideal for visually writing the pages, resolving overall reading flow design, and the blocking of each shot without getting bogged down too early with the details of the art. The template is made to be printed on a 8.5″x11″ sheet in landscape mode, but if you want more room print it out on a larger sheet? the file is saved at 200 dpi.
6″x9″ print format
This is a common size for mid sized hardcover and trade paperback copies of novels.
A good format for books that are ment to be sold to bookstores. The aspect ratio is: 2 : 3.
8″ x 10″ or 4″ x 5″ inch print format.
These are the dimensions of
many magazines and digests, some manga. A 5:4 / 1.25 aspect ratio. This is the size I use the most lately. Both Dream Life and Revolver are published in it.
I’ve made both the thumbnail worksheet and full size template for this.