Optimal Settings or lour Uork

Sadly, it isn't enough to simply print or export the file and be done with it. You need to make sure that the settings you've adjusted are the right ones for the medium. Otherwise, you could end up with poor-quality pages, and that's not going to please any of your readers.

Tips for exporting for the Web

It can be tricky to get your work to look the way you want it to in a Web-compatible format. When I started using Manga Studio and tried to export for the Web, I ended up with pages that flat-out looked terrible; either the lines were too jagged or the tones weren't coming out how I wanted them. It was certainly frustrating at first to get things to look how I wanted them to.

So, to save yourself the initial headaches I went through, here are some suggestions for what I think are the best settings for creating a file for the Web:

V Export your file by pixel size by choosing File^ ExportC Export by Pixel Specification.

Unlike the physical world, where images are measured in centimeters or inches, on your computer monitor, images (and most everything else) are measured in pixels (dots on the screen). So, to avoid confusion about what size and resolution you want for the computer screen, work with the units of measurement that matter digitally.

Keep the file size as small as possible.

While the percentage of people using broadband Internet connections is growing, there are still a good number of users in the United States that don't have broadband Internet connections. So, you're not going to win any fans from the dialup camp if you create a file that's more than 500K in size.

Manga Studio does a pretty good job optimizing the exported file. Still, you should be mindful of the file size and be prepared to reduce the physical size of the page (while still maintaining quality and legibility, of course) to reduce the number a bit.

f Save your exported file as a JPG file.

Web browsers these days can read only a handful of image types. You can export your work to two of those types: BMP and JPG (and PNG if you own Manga Studio EX).

V Save your exported file in RGB color.

When you're working on a file that's full size and is eventually going to be put in a book (either by yourself or a printing company), you want to use monochrome, as it produces the sharpest lines and tones possible. However, when you're exporting a file to be shown on the Web (which needs to be shrunk down from its original size), exporting in monochrome actually hurts the quality of the line, which you can see in Figure 13-7 on the left.

What exporting the file as an RGB file does is add some anti-aliasing to the lines and tones (adding shades of gray to soften them slightly), which helps the artwork shrink down to Web size while basically maintaining the same quality as the full-size image (which you can see in Figure 13-7 on the right).

Figure 13-7:

The difference between RGB color (left) and Monochrome (right) can be pretty drastic when exporting for the Web.

Figure 13-7:

The difference between RGB color (left) and Monochrome (right) can be pretty drastic when exporting for the Web.

e* Avoid making a page larger than the monitor's width.

This is a tricky one, as most people have their monitors set up differently.

The average user's display resolution is 1024 pixels by 768 pixels (1024 x 768), although some people still prefer to use 800 x 600. The point is, you really don't have a clue who's reading your comic at what resolution, so, you should prepare your page for the lowest resolution.

What you consider the lowest resolution is up to you. Kor example, some have sworn off 800 x 600 entirely and have set 1024 x 768 as the lowest resolution to read their webcomic. Whatever you decide to be the lowest resolution, the thing that you have to make absolutely sure is that the page you create fits within that resolution's width (and also the dimensions of the web page design, should you decide to include navigation and/or advertisements along the sides of the page). Unless the page is designed to read that way, you don't want the reader to scroll horizontally. It's just going to irritate them if they have to scroll along two axes to read your page.

Personally, I suggest having an image no larger than 650-700 pixels, as it's a good compromise of page dimensions on the screen, as well as the size of the file itself (which means it will load faster on the Web site for the reader).

Tips for printing (locally or professionally)

l think when you either print your own comics or have them done professionally, you want any judgments on your work to be based on your own artistic merits, not on a technical glitch or bad print job. I've flipped through many books from small press and self-publishers over the years, and more than a few times I've been taken out of the story because they produced some extremely shoddy prints of their art work.

┬╗jfrWiG/ Taking your reader out of the experience is, I think, the kiss of death for any repeat patronage. While it's extremely important to have a gripping story, you need to keep in mind that comics and manga are a visual medium. So, you need to make sure that the pages you print or have printed for you are as professional-looking as possible.

The good news is that Manga Studio tries to make creating the best-quality prints and images you can get as foolproof as possible. That said, things can still get messed up if you don't have the correct settings. So, the following two lists provide tips that I think are helpful, along with suggestions to ensure that your work is accurately represented, whether you print the pages on your own desktop printer or use a professional printing service.

Getting the best prints vOith your desktop printer

If you're printing your pages on a desktop printer (such as an inkjet or laser printer), keep these tips in mind:

f* When you first create your new page or story file, make sure the resolution Is at a minimum of 300 dpi.

Optimally, the higher the resolution, the smoother and crisper the line work is on the page. But not everyone has a fast enough system to work at 1200 dpi. So, you should try to work at a minimum of 300 dpi, as it's the lowest resolution to work at before the quality of your line work begins to take a hit.

V Keep in mind the size of the book you want to create.

It isn't going to do you much good if you're creating a book that's going to be larger than the 8.5-x-l 1-inch standard printing paper you have available. You may need to go to your local print shop if you're looking to create a large-format comic.

V When printing, set the highest ink quality for your printer (and use black ink only if you're printing a black-and-white manga).

V If your comic is black and white, save or print your file in monochrome.

V When printing, match your printer's resolution to the page resolution.

This helps to keep things consistent between your page and the printer.

Getting the best results from a professional printing service

If you're exporting files to send them to a professional printing service (local or out-of-town) to be printed, keep these tips in mind:

Don't be afraid to shop around and ask questions.

If you have only one print shop in town, your choices are going to be more limited than those who have a couple shops to select from. Still, it never hurts to find out more information on the print shop (or shops) you're considering using to print your comic.

Try to talk to them over the phone or pay them a visit in person. This way, you can get a good grasp on their process, what they can or can't do, and what you'll need to provide to make the process easier for both you and them (aside from the pages themselves). Plus, you can find out better which shop will best fit what you need or want.

Above all else, don't be afraid to ask questions. If this is the first time you've ever done this and you aren't sure exactly what to do, they may be able to provide suggestions you never thought of before. It may save you a lot of time, headache, and money in the long run.

is Find out the print shop's requirements for file specifications and adjust your export settings to match.

To make sure that you and your printer are on the same page (no pun intended), it's good to find out exactly what requirements the printer has for your work to look its best. This may include the minimum requirements for file resolution (at least 300 dpi, for example) or how large they'd like the bleed area to be. (See Chapter 1 if you don't know what the bleed area of the page is.)

is When sending files out to be professionally printed, make sure you save the entire page (including print guide) in the file.

The print shop needs to know what areas of your pages are important and what they can trim from the final product. So, printing the print guide along with your artwork helps them avoid accidentally cutting off a vital part of the page.

If you've drawn outside of the safe area of your page, you want to make sure that the Basic Frame is deselected from the Print or Export Setup dialog boxes, unless you want that printed in the middle of your page.

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