Page aspect ratios & templates 14 Comments

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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?

"A comparison of book formats for comics around the world. The left group is from Japan and shows the tankōbon and the smaller bunkobon formats. Those in the middle group of Franco-Belgian comics are in the standard A4-size comic album format. The right group of graphic novels is from English-speaking countries, where there is no standard format." Curly Turkey CC BY-SA 3.0

“A comparison of book formats for comics around the world. The left group is from Japan and shows the tankōbon and the smaller bunkobon formats. Those in the middle group of Franco-Belgian comics are in the standard A4-size comic album format. The right group of graphic novels is from English-speaking countries, where there is no standard format.”
Curly Turkey CC BY-SA 3.0

Webcomic? That’s not totally standardized but something around 3 : 2 is about typical for I pad screens. Old newspaper strips were around 5 : 2 to 10 : 3?

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). That converts to an aspect ratio of 663 : 1024! You can use this web based calculator to work out what measurements = what. Use a ruler to check some of the books you own and enter the numbers.

European comics typically come hard bound, and 8.4″ x 11.6″ in (21×30 cm). That’s 21 : 29. But so would be 4.2″ x 5.8″ at half the size but the same proportions. See how that works?

My book Dream Life is 8″ x 10″, 4 : 5! It’s a Trade. Trade Paperback graphic novels vary widely, 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.  Factors to consider are how it will feel in the readers hands, how much density you can fit on the page before it becomes too small. And what’s available if you’re going to print it as well.

For example both CreateSpace and Lulu offer a variety of aspect ratio formats that overlap, they don’t all translate to the exact same sizes. For example my 8″ x 10″ Dream Life and Revolver from CreateSpace have to be converted to Crown Quarto, 7.44″ x 9.68″ before i can publish them at Lulu’s. Not quite a perfect match for 4 : 5 but i found it was the closest they really have at the moment. Most local printers will cut custom sizes but they may not all be priced the same. When you’re starting to think about printing it’s time to do some research and make some decisions.

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!

We’ve used a few in the past, to maximize the results for presenting the results at school and utilizing the tools we have there, we’ll use a 8.5″ x 11″ template from now on. That’s 17 : 22! You’ll find that below before all the others! Just print them out with your colour jet printer or at a local copy shop!

Important terms

guideThe measurements of each template are printed on the bottom of the large templates.

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.


Thumbnail sheet – print these to do your rough layouts on. You can do roughs larger but this lets you see the over all page design and stay away from too much detail when you’re at the first draft rough stage.


I used these printed out on 8.5×11 inch paper to do my ‘pencils’ on, printed on regular cartridge paper. They can be printed larger if you like to use them on a larger scale to pencil as many do.

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.

Making Comics thumbs template

Large Thumbnail/Rough Layout Template!

Making Comics PG template

Full size Comics PG template – 11″x17″ at 300 dpi PNG file.

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 4 : 5 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.

Making Comics thumbs template

Thumbnail layout templates!

a 5:4 / 1.25 aspect ratio. print formats 8" x 10" or 4" x 5" inch


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14 thoughts on “Page aspect ratios & templates

  • meow

    Thank you for sharing euro templates. I was crazily searching for them this because i needed to know the size and finally found your site. Thank you again!

  • Don

    Thanks for the templates, very helpful. I am exploring making my first comic and this is just what i needed!

    • Max Post author

      Well, a lot of tablets can be held in portrait mode, so the one of these that most evenly fills out that space would be good. I haven’t tested them to see which that is, and it probably varies from device to device. For the web in most landscape aspect ration monitors, non of these are really ideal, if you;re planing a webcomic, that will be printed in one of these modes, you can follow page layouts that break evenly in half for most pages, and post them online as two pages/posts to fit screens better.

  • Jason

    Found and love your website. Its great that you are providing these templates. I do have a few questions about how to find the specific measurements of the guides.
    1. How do you determine the actual size of the Bleed, Trim and Safe area for any of these sizes. Only asking because the only template you have showing those measurements of those zones is on the Standard Us Comic Format. And when I downloaded a few of them, some templates aren’t on a 11’x17” canvas and/or the guides dont seem to be the size that they are labeled. Perhaps I’m measuring wrong.
    2. How should one go about making their own guides and have them work for printing. For example, on a 11″x17″ do I subtract .25″ from each side to obtain the edge of the bleed? Then from my bleed edge do I subtract .125″ to obtain the trim size?

    Hope my questions make sense and thank you for reading and answering.

    • Max Post author

      1. the bleed is usually about .25 of an inch, but in the end it’s going to vary a bit from printer to printer, some are smaller. so when you can consult your printer for how much bleed they require. I often draw more than I need in my art for the bleed as well. Account for a quarter inch at the least for the template, the idea is you want the art to extend that far minimum.

      But you don’t have to have that set at the start, just the trim measurement. The Trim is the size the book will end up being when you hold it, so base that on an industry standard or dimentions your printer confirms they can do for you. If you use POD services, pick the format you’re going to want to use from their site and there’s your trim measurements! Most of those services also will provide you with the before mentioned bleed size too.

      Safe area can vary, i’d say minimum for text, work with about two thirds to half an inch, but I like large margins myself so I often have a full inch margin if i’m using a larger format book size.

      2. Oh no you don’t want to make your page dimensions based on the art you draw on, it’s based on the format the book will be printed in! If you just mesure in from the edges of a 11×17 paper, you won’t end up with the right aspect ratio at all.

  • Caroline M. Balkon

    Have you ever tried using free programs when offered such as Medibang Paint Pro I am not sure if that best program but seems like best one out there I am not certain others are just using other nicer programs out there I had Comicado but finding good time when I am no always needed for reality. Not for comic time. I Love comic making time, really I try as might to go back in and try make something but when draw blank which enemy of all things.

    I have idea so I write them down before I draw them it sounds bad really, But every time I do find time I get hey you gotta do this thing. I really need to find third person or really plan my time according so I have more time to do other things.

    I have one question: Could comics be made for Comic Novel? I am told no by my folks is there yes anywhere? I made story called Spare rooms and I kept going but problem is I ran out paper…I thinking if I went digital there be nothing holding me back.

    • Max Post author

      Hi, so i list a couple good free programs on this page of the site as suggestions to the students in my class. Look under digital tools. I’m told Krita is quite good, i’ve only used it a little but it seems like a good free program.

      That said, it’s cheaper to stock up on good paper than it is ti buy a computer and drawing tablet. if you already have them then have at it. But having enough paper means a bit of planing is all.

      And learning to write, means doing a LOT of bad writing first, learning FROM your mistakes is how you get better. Practice drawing, as a separate skill most of the time for a while to get better at that. And practice writing, a lot. And spend time with those bad stories you write, try to figure out why they are bad, and write more stories. improve on things as you learn more.

      And don’t try to make a comic novel first. Start short, planing, writing, and then drawing one page comics. Then three, then five, then ten, and on. But yes, you can write a comic novel. People do, they call them graphic novels a lot these days. That’s just another way of saying long comics. Or Comic novel.

      Good luck!

  • KDH Studios

    Man your layouts are pretty sweet dude. Now I know the proper format for a page layout. I’m still pretty new to making comic books so these pretty much saved my career. Thanks man, =D