If you are an aspiring self-publishing comic book creator, then you must ensure that you are aware of all the technicalities involved in printing comic books before starting your project. Knowing the basics of printing a comic book can help prevent you from wasting time and effort in revising your files and repeating the entire process.
Prior to sending your files to the printers, your files should already be in a print-ready file format. Safe zones, bleeds, and trim lines are three of the most important considerations in comic book printing.
The safe zones pertains to the 0.125 inches or 1/8 inches allowance from the edge of the page or the trim line. Keeping the texts and graphics 0.125 inches away from the edge will ensure that they will not be removed during the trimming process.
The trim line is a dotted line that serves as a guide in which areas will be cut off. The trim variance can extend up to 1mm inward or outward, therefore the important elements of the page should be within 0.125 inches or 1/8 inches inside the trim line.
Do note that your designs should be extended up to 3 mm outwards the trim lines to prevent unsightly white spaces along the edges of your comic book page. This extension is called a bleed. Bleed is printing industry term that refers to printing that extends beyond the edge of the document prior to trimming.
Defining the safe zone, trim lines, and bleeds will help ensure that your comic book will be trimmed neatly and perfectly, leaving a pristine end result.
Setting Up Bleeds
Some graphics editing software such as InDesign provide options in creating bleed marks to your file. Other graphics software, on the other hand, do not have a specific feature in setting up bleeds, but it can still be done with a bit of pre-planning. Here are the steps on how to set up bleeds in Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop.
Create a new file in InDesign and set the page size to the final size of your final printed document. For example, if your comic book is 8.5” x 11” then set the file dimensions to 8.5” x 11”. Set the margins to 0.125 inches and in the More Options button, set the bleed measurement to 0.125 as well.
Illustrator and Photoshop
Create a new file and set the height and width 0.25 larger than the size of your final printed document. Again, if your comic book is 8.5” x 11” then set the file dimensions to 8.75” x 11.25”.
Regardess of the software that you will use, the first thing that you have to determine is the final size of your desired output. You have to know this at the beginning of the project and not the end because you might run the risk of losing important comic content.
The standard bleed size in the printing industry is 1/8 of an inch or 3 mm, but it’s best to check with your printers to be on the safe side. Always remember, when in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask.
When you’re done, you should end up with a document that is the size of your file including the bleed. For example, if you are working with a 6” x 4” document, the final file size will be 6 1/4” x 4 1/4” once the bleed is added. If your project calls for a bigger bleeds, then simply adjust the dimensions as needed.