How to Make Digital Comics Pt. 2 (Page sizes and resolution)

After last week’s post on How to Make Digital Comics I quickly realized there is an awful lot of you out there looking for this kind of information. So thank you for dropping by and checking it out. Feel free to leave comments or questions as well!

This week I want to talk about page sizes and resolution.

When it comes to drawing your artwork for digital comics you should really keep your page size in mind. There are already a number of different types of digital comics out there today. Off the top of my head we’ve got the landscape oriented comic like Michael Jasper and Niki Smith’s “In Maps and Legends, Alex de Campi’s  panel specific “Valentine or your normal, everyday comic that’s simply being ported over to digital as is. These would be the comics from the Big Two, Image, Dark Horse, etc that are identical to their print counterparts.

I should also point out before we get too far into this — page sizes? It’s all personal preference. Maybe you want a landscape comic. That’s your decision. There really is no right or wrong way. When I first started making digital comics I came to the realization that I’d much rather utilize the proper dimensions of the devices. So first and foremost I focused on the iPad. An iPad’s screen dimensions are 768 x 1024 pixels in portrait mode. It also has a resolution of 132 dpi (as of this writing).

Once I knew its dimensions I was able to play with some of my previous comics and port them over. The first thing I noticed and you’ll have noticed this as well if you’ve read some comics on your iPad, was that the page doesn’t fill the entire screen. There’s a very large blank area on both sides of the comic. (Left and right sides.) Here’s an example from Kurtis J. Wiebe and Riley Rossmo’s wonderful comic Green Wake.

Green Wake #5 page example

This is happening because the art was drawn at a size that doesn’t fit an iPad. And why would it really? Print comics are one thing and an iPad another. Maybe in the future we’ll see this change but for now it’s highly unlikely. But that doesn’t stop us from making comics the way we want to… it may mean that our print version will be a slightly different shape but that doesn’t concern me anymore.

I ended up coming to the conclusion that if I draw my pages at a magazine size I can pretty much fit the iPad perfectly. For those template geeks, here’s the template that I use: Click here.

To the side is an example from my art book that I’ve since adjusted to fit the screen properly.

Art book example

So now you scan in your artwork, adjust your image size down to 768 x 1024, 132 dpi and presto, a page formatted specifically for the iPad that fills the screen! I’ve actually created a separate template file that’s sized specifically for each device that I just drag and drop my artwork on. That way I can adjust the page if I really need to.

[Update Mar 2012: The iPad 3 has now rolled out and it's HD which means its stats have now updated as follows: resolution 264 dpi, pixel dimensions 1536 x 2048.]

Below is a screengrab showing how I’ve used it. You’ll notice that I’m still keeping in mind AND USING the page guidelines on the template like the bleed, trim and live area. I wouldn’t mind printing my comics as well some day so this way they’ll be properly formatted for print as well.

Magazine template example

 

But like I said, decide what works for you or what’s right for the project. You may want a single paneled comic similar to Comixology’s Guided View for instance. Or maybe you want your comic to be read easily on phones. Any time you choose a different device it complicates things. You will have to do some extra work.

One thing I haven’t touched on too much is the resolution of the pages. I’ve seen a lot of talk on the net about this. The consensus seems to be to just make them 72 dpi. (Web resolution) But I’m not sure I agree. If a device supports higher dpi, I say go for it. Sure your files will be a little larger but the last thing you want to do is give your customers/fans an inferior product. Some people may simply want to view them on their computer as well. They’d obviously  benefit from a higher resolution in that case.

An iPad’s resolution is 132 dpi, the Kindle2 167 dpi and the Nook Colour 196 dpi. These will change in the future as the technology increases and gets better and better each year but for now that’s where they stand. [Update Mar 2012: The resolution for the iPad 3 is  264 dpi.] The great thing about digital is that nothing is ever obsolete. Say 5 years from now the iPad supports 300 dpi, you could simply re-do your dpi on all of your pages and upload a new file. You’ll have the ability to do since you kept all of your original files in a safe place right? Right?! Always, always keep an untouched file somewhere. What if you need to adjust your lettering? What if you need to increase your dpi? What if you need to adjust your page size? Make sure you have that original file. It’ll come in handy, I promise you.

I did find out from one digital distributor recently that they require their files in 300 dpi. When asked they responded that it was in preparation for the devices to change and to allow the text to be read easier. I did some experimentation myself and sure enough, they were correct in regards to text. Although I did not notice ANY difference in the artwork itself even when zoomed. It looked exactly the same. I would still focus on the device’s dpi for now until told otherwise such as in this case.

Speaking of distributors I think that’s what we’ll talk about next week.

As a sidenote since I only seem to talk about the iPad lately, Kindle 2′s dimensions are 520 x 622 pixels and the Nook Colour 600 x 952 pixels.

I encourage you to comment below with any questions and to share this post back out to everyone around you. Like you, there’s many other would-be creators dying at the chance to learn something new about creating digital comics.

If you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it!
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Reddit Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Tumblr

About Adam

Adam got his start in comics illustrating and colouring the book Shuddertown from Image Comics/Shadowline. He’s now concentrating his efforts on self-publishing and a larger move into writing novels and helping other authors get their work published. He recently launched his first small press publishing company, EnemyOne, which was realistically over 10 years in the making. He enjoys reading comic books and in particular old, pulpy, crime novels.

Subscribe

Subscribe to the EnemyOne newsletter to receive updates about promotions/contests and news about releases from my small press publishing company!

, , , , , ,

  • Pingback: How to Make Digital Comics Pt. 3 (Digital Distributors) : Adam Geen

  • http://www.transformationsequence.com/ Wil Overton

    Hi Adam,
    Great post, thanks. I use the magazine Ka-Blam templates, too but I didn’t think about the iPad’s resolution (schoolboy error!).

    • http://adamgeen.com Adam Geen

      Hi Wil,

      You’re very welcome! Glad you found it useful.

      Adam

  • Mick Sylvestre

    Cover Image
    Update

    Worthy of another mention: We can now
    accommodate larger, higher-quality cover images for Kindle titles! Accordingly
    we have updated our guidelines
    for creating a catalog/cover image. Our new guidelines for cover images require
    that an image be at least 1,000 pixels on the longest side, though we recommend
    2,500 pixels on the longest side to ensure better quality, and an ideal
    height/width ratio of 1.6. To confirm whether your cover image meets these
    requirements, right-click the image file and select “Properties.”

  • Pingback: Making Digital Comics: Selling and Finding Digital Distributors | Adam Geen

  • Anthony Haw

    Hey Adam, just wanna pop in and say thanks. I’m starting up my own digital comic, and I was pretty lost on all the stuff not related to writing/drawing. I’m glad I happened upon your page when I was looking for how big to make the pages and what not. I’ll also check out pages 1 and 3. You’re a life saver. Thanks!

    • http://adamgeen.com Adam Geen

      Awesome! It’s definitely a challenge. Things can change so quickly with new models coming out, etc. Not to mention there’s so many dift ways to do the digital comics themselves.

  • http://www.facebook.com/george.caltsoudas George Caltsoudas

    You should NEVER under any circumstance NEVER EVER do anything at 300 dpi. That is print quality resolution and you don’t want that no matter how advanced the technology gets. To accommodate the need for zooming into your pages and still have them look good (and not pixelated), just make the page size twice as large but still at 72 dpi (or 144). No reader or distributor should ever have pages of your comic in a format that can print at a professional quality.

  • http://twitter.com/StefanLindblad Stefan Lindblad

    Hi Adam,
    A great article. I am sure it will help a lot of illustrators anc comic artists out there, as well as publishers. Great job!

    • http://adamgeen.com Adam Geen

      “Approve”

  • Pingback: Inquiry Blog 2: Declaration of CoP and Rebellion | Cameron Talbert/English 1102

  • Charlie Sitay

    Everyone has an opinion on this topic; however, according to The DC Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics, DC requires a pages to be a resolution of 300 to 450 DPI from its Illustrators.  
    I do know that Marvel requires 350 DPI.

    • http://adamgeen.com Adam Geen

      Hi Charlie,

      Yeah, that would be in reference to print comics though. So your final art files are that dpi and then you adjust for digital after the fact.

      • Charlie Sitay

        ah…ic…thx!

    • David Boowie

      Probably no one will answer it, since it was originally posted two years ago, but I’ll ask anyway. 350 DPI for the final print size, or relative to the much larger, close to “A3″, original art size? That makes a huge difference. I’d expect that the rational thing is to require the DPI relative to the print size.

  • Sevarion

    I’ve been drawing on an 1890x2520x300ppi canvas (desired print size in comparison to a 2480x3508x300 A4 sheet) with the intention of resizing down to 630x840x100ppi when uploading each page online.

    Problem is that a lot of the quality is lost during the reduction, and the pages become undesirably sharp as a result. I don’t know if drawing at 100-200dpi and then upsizing to 300 before printing would yield better results, but i’d really appreciate any advice.

    Thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/adamgeen Adam Geen

      Are you just looking to post them online? If so, you can just adjust them to 72 dpi. I’m surprised you’re having issues simply reducing them. Do the pages have text/captions/balloons on them as well?

      One thing’s for sure — you never want to upsize.

      • Sevarion

        I’m just intent on posting them online as I start out, but would likely print them later if I got more seriously into it. I actually prefer drawing on a large canvas and then reducing thing, because I feel a lot more comfortable using 6-8px brushes on 100% zoom as opposed to 1-2px at 800% zoom.

        I zoom out to 33.33% to preview the reduced size as I draw, but when I finally come to the reduction step everything becomes grainy and degraded. (The effect is more prominent when trying to cram lots of detail into a small panel, but the same sharpness issue occurs regardless of how large or close-up a scene is.)

        Quick example: http://i53.photobucket.com/albums/g49/Felidire/Reduc_Issue_zps377a09d9.jpg – Bicubic Sharper is recommended for reduction, while imo smoother yields slightly better results (which tells me that i’m probably doing something wrong.) Captions sharpen, but unrasterized text remains perfect during reductions.

        It’s not just in comics, same thing happens when reducing 4000×3000 images by 50-75% for uploading; they look lovely while zoomed out as a hi-res image, but when reduced it loses much detail and becomes sharp. I can’t find an effective way around this.

  • Ivan Chew

    Hello Adam, I’m glad you posted this series. This post was of particular help to me. I was struggling with the basics of determining what dimensions and resolution to start the comics. Thanks so much for this.

  • Niyi

    Hello, thanks for the useful tips on here. I know this may be a ridiculous question, but if you have a potrait comic with one those spread pages that’s like a landscape page, how do you format that? or do you always have to split the pages into two portrait pages…?
    I ask because most people only tell you the size for a comic that has all portrait or landscape separately, but with some of the pages in my comic, splitting the landscape images will…well, suck. Thanks again in advance for any help you can give me with this.

  • Pingback: Everything I did wrong when I tried to make a digital comic file | Sandpaperdaisy Art