Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Let it Flow - creating a PDF for Comixology Submit.

Hero Code Theatre of War Prologue. A long title for a book which took me a long time to format and get right for Comixology Submit.

It got accepted today, but not after a lot of back and forth, to and fro, up and down.

The original art was done at A4, which was strange in it's own right, and then reduced down to A5 for print. I used those A5 pages to create Comixology spec JPEGS (1800pxls on the smallest side) and then a PDF for submission, and had problems with the text articulating (pixelating).

The original TIFFS (both A4 and A5) were at 300dpi, CMYK (for print), which was converted to 72dpi and RGB for the PDF.

The next round of conversions was a head scratcher - and not just my head.

I went back to the original A4 sized files and resized them to the Comixology spec - but going a little higher than the minimum - 2000pxls on the smallest side (width for standard pages, height for a double paged spread).

The head scratching came around when I produced the PDF. It had two pages which appeared smaller than the others. I checked the sizing, I checked the resolution (on both the original art, and the reformatted art), but the pages were appearing (in Preview and Adobe Reader) as different.

I resubmitted, and Comixology got back to me, and quoted that a different page from the ones I was seeing as small was a different size!

I again checked, looking at this new page, and could not see any information to say it was different.

I went back to the drawing board, and reworked my work flow, this time getting it right.

For the sake of helping anyone out there who is planning on submitting to Comixology, I now give you a quick outline of my workflow. It may be convoluted, it may have unnecessary steps in there, but it's what works for me!

Comixology Work Flow

When I get the files back of the finished pages - normally from the last person in the chain (letterer, usually) these come back as print files - that is CMYK, 300dpi.

These come back bigger than the print size (for standard comic size I use Ka-Blam's guides, which can be found here).

I then go into Adobe Illustrator and using my guide page (7x10.5 inches) I reduce the file page down to fit this. Depending on where I am printing, I will either keep the file as CMYK or convert to RGB at this stage. I also save the new file at 600dpi, keeping it as a TIFF, but using the LZW compression.

I also take this chance to rename the resized file to my own naming system - normally print page number - comic name and issue - page name or number (e.g. 01hctowpfrontcover or 03hctowppp001). This saves a little time later, and helps keep the names separate from the original files.

I tend to save everything to Desktop while I'm working, so I can see it easily.

I then create two folders - one for print and one for digital, and drop all the resized print files into the print folder.

Using GraphicsConverter 9 (I have the paid for version, but you can use it for free) I then open all the print files up, and begin the conversion process.

Going into Picture I will convert the mode to RGB if it's still CMYK, and then Size to change the image settings. I use pixels as reference, and keep the image proportionate, changing the narrow side of the image to 2000pxls.

I will then save this new size image as a JPEG to desktop - this step usually drops the resolution down to 72dpi.

Once done with all these files, I drop them into the digital folder.

I then create the PDF using iCombiner - it's a very simple drag and drop program, and the file naming system I use should keep everything in page order.

Once the PDF is created - named as the issue title and number and saved to desk top - I check it over, and if all is good, it is ready to go.

I hope this helps - I'll also do some smaller posts later about the process of submitting, creating the cover image for Submit, etc, but that's it for now.

EDITED TO ADD

So since I wrote this, another book I'd submitted was returned, and I decided to try out a new method of creating a PDF, removing the step of compression that creating jpegs added.

I used InDesign to create a document template, then added the TIFFs (and in the case of the cover, the Adobe Illustrator document), exporting as PDF.

It means that the final PDF is big, but it also means that the compression, and presumable the articulation, doesn't occur.

I'll check in once I hear back to let people know if this worked...

1 comment:

Lorenz Lammens said...

Thanks for this, Jamie. This gave me a workflow I can start experimenting when uploading my comic in 2 weeks time.

Really good work and useful, since there doesn't seem to be that many tutorials out there. Yours is the most complete I have found so far.