Yesterday’s post about finding and working with an illustrator focused on the soft stuff: art, personality, style.
Today, let’s chat about bits and formats and whatnot.
Once you’ve settled on a visual collaborator for your book, neither of you should assume the other knows all the technical stuff. Assume a blank slate. Talk about everything. Much of it is a collaborative artistic conversation, not simply a technical or printing issue.
- Image size — If your book is a 10″ square, how much of the page will the image cover? You’ll rarely need the original image to be larger than the print size. Your artist may have technical or artistic reasons to create a larger image and have it reduced. Otherwise, 100% is the right size. Smaller is never good. Never.
- Consistency — Should all the images in your book be the same size, or is variety best?
- Bleed and fill and text — Will your images go all the way to the edge of the page, or will there be a blank margin around it? Will the image have text over it? Does the artist need to leave room for the text, to allow readability, or will your interior designer block out an opaque region for the text over the image? Should the text be included in the image rather than typeset over the face of it?
- Resolution — The digital image they send you should be 300dpi (or ppi; they’re effectively the same measurement, dots per inch on paper or pixels per inch on screen.) Anything less than this will be blurry when it prints. Resolutions as low as 150dpi can work, but if you’re having custom art created for your book, don’t settle for smaller, lower-resolution images.
- Delivery method — The above assumes they’re sending you digital files. These files will probably be huge, not good for email. Use DropBox, Google Drive, or a CD or USB stick in the mail. If the plan is to deliver originals (h’ray for you) be sure you have the ability to scan them at 300dpi or that you can hire it done at Kinko’s or your local print shop. It is not inexpensive. Check first. And always have originals delivered rolled, in a mailing tube. Never flat, to be bent or crushed, and certainly never folded. Never ever folded.
- File format — If you’re working with CreateSpace or anyone who’ll be printing your book from a PDF, you want your files as JPGs. Even though this is not the optimal format for line art, the conversion to PDF works best with JPG rather than GIF files. If you’re not working with CreateSpace or you have someone doing your formatting for you, ask them what format they prefer. It may be PNG, JPG, GIF, or even TIFF. They’ll know what all that means. What they should not do is send them to you in a Word file. Word does horrific things to images. It is not a graphics program. At some point, your images may be embedded in your manuscript in Word before it’s turned into a PDF. That’s layout. But for delivery, transferring the files from one person to another, never use Word. never.
- Originals — If the art is created on a physical medium like paper or canvas, who owns the original? You want it, but a digital copy can be far less expensive.
- License — Do you own the rights to reproduce this image anywhere and everywhere, or only on one page of your book? Does your artist expect to use the image anywhere other than their portfolio? Usual arrangements are for you to own all rights of use, and the artist to own only the right to include it in their portfolio. If anything else is on the table, sort it before you sign up.
Tomorrow: collaborating to create an image from start to finish — the image for chapter 1 of Ginger, the Ship Captain’s Cat goes from idea to collage to sketch to finished art.