diy: making minicomics

Step 7: Master Copy

Step 7: Master Copy

Now you’ve got your artwork scaled properly and photocopied, and you’ve got a mockup/imposition guide of your minicomic. The next step is to prepare a master from which you can copy your comic. I will start by explaining the process with Olde-Fashioned scissors, tape, paste, and whiteout, but many people now do this on the computer. It doesn’t really matter, as long as you get the pages in the right order!

Traditional paste-up
What you’ll need: your imposition guide, your photocopied-to-size artwork, as many clean sheets of paper as you planned for your minicomic (and, of course, the same size as you planned), a black pen or marker, white-out, scissors, and tape or paste. A ruler wouldn’t hurt, either.

First of all, set your imposition guide out in front of you, open it to the center, and get a clean sheet of paper. Following the numbering on the imposition guide, carefully trim and neatly paste or tape down the corresponding pages of your artwork.

Then, flip the master page over and also flip the imposition guide page over, and paste the pages of your art that correspond to that side of your imposition guide onto your master copy. Use a ruler, keep it neat.

Proceed thus through your entire imposition guide, so that when you finish, you have a stack of pasted-up master copies that correspond exactly to the order you figured out with the imposition guide. Gently fold the master sheets (without creasing them) and page through the “book”, double and triple-checking that everything is in the right order. THIS IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST PLACES WHERE MISTAKES HAPPEN. CHECK THREE TIMES!

Now, go through the master copy, whiteout blobs and marks, and blacken-in grayish bits. Remember that everything that is on these pages will be on your final mini. Be picky about it.

“Paste-up” on the computer
If you know how to use QuarkXpress, InDesign, or Photoshop (or whatever) and have access to a good scanner and printer, you can “paste up” your master copy on the computer. Basically it’s the exact same process; you still need an imposition guide on paper in front of you, you just don’t need to cut and paste physically.

Note: make sure your scans are good enough for print. they should be at least 600 dpi for grayscale, and 1200 dpi for linework (bitmap). If you want to use graytones, try to stick to three values at the most (i.e 30% , 60% and 90%), since a photocopier will exaggerate them, making darks darker and lights lighter.

You are not immune from triple-checking just because you are using a computer. Just the opposite, probably. Print everything out using high-res settings, stack it like the imposition guide, and gently fold it into “book” shape, without creasing the pages. flip through it and make sure it all looks OK. If you like, you can use paper clips to remind you which sides should be back to back.

Printing from the master
You can either print your mini directly from this copy, or you can make a two-sided photocopy of each page and use that. The advantage of the first choice is that your final mini will be one generation closer to your original art, and the disadvantage is that it’s more delicate, which means you can’t use the automatic paper handler on the photocopier (which means more opportunity for messing up the copy order and orientation). The advantage of the second method is that you can run that master through the automatic paper handler in the photcopier, and let it do the double-sided thing for you, and coallating, too. If you use the second method, be sure to check for shadows or dark lines on the second-generation master made by the edges of the pasted-up pages, and cover them up with whiteout.

Computer paste-up people have the same question as for the Olde Fashioned paste-up people, above. Either make copies directly from the prints you made, or make one set of double-sided photocopies, and use those as the master.

Last chance before you spend the big money to check your master!!