Thursday, 9 February 2012

How to Self Publish Books with Black and White Images for POD

Self publishing a book with drawings such as humorous books, cartoon strips or step by step guides must exhibit drawings of excellent quality and with properly formatting with text for a professional look. But how does the writer/illustrator blend text with images for the print book?

Self Publish Comics and Other Illustrated Books

Crisp, clean drawings are an essential accompaniment to pithy captions or step by step text. The quality of the drawings must reflect the tone of the book and rendered with artist quality materials which might be watercolour paper, rapidographs, fine pencils or ink. The focus of this article is formatting image and text into a print book by the use of free image software and knowledge of Word. The quality of the book could look amateurish if the images are fuzzy, pixillated or dirty marks apparent. Similarly, great images with poor formatting will not look good.

At this point, the drawings have been completed; the text is perfectly-worded and it is time to put them together into a book for POD.

Formatting Illustrations for Print

POD (or print on demand) is the ideal way to get your book into the print market without overheads. Createspace and Lulu are two of the most prominent POD publishers that provide all the resources needed to get your book into print. You need only pay for a proof copy of your book prior to releasing it for sale.

POD companies have a range of trim sizes you can choose from for your book, from pocket-sized of a few inches on either side to suit a humorous book, to 10x8in to suit a large text book. Before progressing further, read my article on how to format illustrations with text to cover setting up your book file on Word. Also consider paragraph settings and font choices. Using bleed or no bleed for print books will also prove useful for illustrated books that contain visual elements that encroach over the trim area of the margin.

How to Enhance Black and White Drawings

Drawings that have been completed in black and white lends itself to being scanned, (if size allows.) Ensure the scan setting is at least 300 DPI (dots per square inch) and that the glass cover is free of dust or dirt. The picture should be placed squarely on top and the lid held firmly down. Once the illustrations have been scanned and saved in Pictures, the images can be cleaned up and enhanced in the following ways:

Free Image Software for Illustrations

If the drawing lacks definition or the lines appear faint, increase the contrast setting a tad. This will make lines appear darker and the background whiter. This will also rid of unwanted tonal values of the background paper if it is cream or pale grey. This will help the illustrations stand out in isolation within the pages of the your book. Simply view your picture and click 'fix' to see toggle tools for saturation and exposure settings, etc.

Smudges and marks can be erased by viewing the image in Paint, a free Microsoft Imaging Programme. Just open the application and browse to the image saved in Pictures. Simply airbrush out with the ‘airbrush tool’ making sure the ‘paint’ is white. You can alternatively use the erasing tool. Just click and drag to rub out unwanted marks. Make sure to save the original picture on as a separate image should things go wrong.

How to Photograph Drawings

If the illustrations concerned are too large to scan or you don’t have an image scanner, you will have to take photographs. I would recommend the following tips for photographing black and white illustrations.
  • Use a tripod, or rest the camera on a stable surface to keep the camera steady
  • Rest the drawing onto a stable easel or similar to angle the drawing perpendicular to the lens. Avoid artificial light or flashbulb which can cause an unwanted colour cast over the paper. Nothing beats a bright, cloudy day. Shoot back to the main light source.
  • Beware of reflections or shadows encroaching over the drawing.
  • Set the resolution to maximum setting to eradicate graininess.
  • Don’t use a wide angle lens or this will distort the appearance of the drawing. Set the lens to around 40mm. Zooming in is fine, but watch for the ‘cropping feature,’ which will make the image appear grainy.
  • Make sure the drawing fills the viewfinder. Don’t worry about a little background showing, you can always trim this off in Pictures.
How to Photograph White Objects

A last point: photographing predominantly white objects, such as a drawing on white paper, will cause a false light reading. The object being ‘bright’ will cause the light meter in the camera to overcompensate and close the aperture in response, resulting in dark photographs. To counter this, attach grey (or mid-toned) card next to the drawing and take the light reading from that. Squeeze the shutter gently to ‘freeze’ the light setting (and the focusing) without taking the picture. Shift the viewfinder (without changing the proximity between camera and drawing). Squeeze the shutter for the shot Try out different exposure settings and select the best photograph. Try to take all the shots on the same day. Perfect the images once uploaded onto Pictures as described.

Formatting Illustrations in a POD Book

Now it is time to insert the images with the text on a Word document which should already be set to a particular page size to suit a trim size for your print book. There are 2 ways you can blend images with text. You can insert the text into the image via Paintshop Pro, or you can place the text alongside the images, as described in my article on formatting images with text. Of course, if you have placed text onto the drawing itself, as in speech bubbles, neither will be necessary, but you will still need to insert the image into the Word for chapter headings (if applicable), a contents page and copyright text.

Creating Black and White Illustrated Books

The great thing about black and white illustrations is that they are cheap to produce on POD, so you can offer your books at a competitive price. Now you just need to upload your perfectly-worded and formatted illustrated book onto a POD platform. First, save the book as PDF. You should have a book synopsis and a great book cover design prepared before doing so. Select white paper (not cream) as the printing option on Createspace. An internal book previewer on Createspace enables you to check how your book will actually look in print online. Now’s your chance to fix issues that may not have been apparent before. My list of links to articles relating to publishing illustrated books (see below) should cover all.

Books to Print Guide for Black and White Images on POD

Producing a black and white illustrated book, such as humour or comic strip requires crisp drawings, perfectly-worded text, knowledge on image software and correct formatting for POD. Each stage needs to be tackled carefully before moving onto the next. Taking perfect pictures is crucial for the book, as well as formatting the pictures properly. Once the book file has been approved by the POD platform, I would strongly recommend ordering a proof copy to ensure the print version stands up in quality prior to putting it for sale.

Articles on Publishing Books with Drawings

Formatting text with pictures
Bleed or no bleed in POD?
Formatting text and font styles for print books
How to design your own book cover
Troubleshooting poor image quality
Beginner's guide to publishing on Createspace
My website on writing novels

1 comment:

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