Sequential Underground #68 - How Colors Can Change

Sequential Underground

Comic book self-publishers Shawn Atkins and Nick Marino discuss the way that comics can change in appearance as digital colors migrate from the computer screen to the printed page.

Time Log coverShawn and Nick collaborated on the Time Log webcomic, which needed some serious color adjustments the first time it was printed!

Shawn is often satisfied with the way that his digital colors look in his self-published comics. But Nick feels like his colors never print the way that he wants, and he struggles to find the perfect way to make color corrections.

Time Log interior pagesOn the left are Time Log's digital colors as they appear on the computer screen. On the top right you can see the uncorrected digital colors in print. On the bottom right are the colors adjusted for print.

With experience working in a copy center, Shawn shares some tips about how to get the best results from a local printer. And Nick shares about his experience using online services like Best Value Copy, which can save you a lot of money if you're willing to assemble your comics by hand.

5 Responses to “Sequential Underground #68 - How Colors Can Change”


  1. 1 Brian John Mitchell

    I have my screen's brightness turned down a little (or a lot compared to most people) since my matte screen died. But I think you might be better off darkening your screen a little than guessing the colors lightened up.

    When Shawn asks what file format they accept, it's way more important what format they prefer. I have problems with people accepting a format, but they open it in a different software that screws up the text layout. Sometimes even if it's an all Apple place & you use a PC, sometimes the fonts can alter slightly & it can screw up the layout & you should try to get someone using their preferred set-up to look at first as a last minute check.

    Printing at home is tough Still trying to get it figured out. Sometimes I've printed the same file on the same printer from different computers & it doesn't look quite as sharp for some reason.

    One time I took some metallic wrapping paper & cut it down to make some crazy prints at Kinko's & it melted in the machine. My girlfriend of the time worked there & did it for me.

  2. 2 ross

    man, you guys really needed me on this episode for the color gamut stuff!!

    my stuff always turns out too dark even when i make it lighter than i think it needs to be, especially when i do prints. usually they say there will be a 10% dot gain but it always varies. ARGH!

  3. 3 Daniel Arruda Massa

    For my old job I mainly designed flyers and stuff like that. For test prints I would always use a inkjet printer and the colors would suck, but when I would get the final product back from the printers it would look good. So I guess it really comes down to the paper stock and the quality of the printing machine.

    As for printing with the inkjet the tests would be better if I printed directly for InDesign instead of a pdf reader. I don't know why.

    I enjoy the process of printing, I usually think my stuff looks better on paper.

  4. AudioShocker Shoutouts!

    Dead Mondays webcomics


  5. 4 Jesse Acosta

    I am kind of in the same boat as Shawn. I rarely have color issues. Actually the first time I really had a problem was for a project I did for someone. When they tried printing the files from home, this near neon green (close to the lighter green on the Gello apocalypse logo) was coming out way dark, and leaning towards blue. I think it was partially the guys printer settings were screwy.
    Have you guys ever used programs like Adobe Gamma or other programs with a colorimeter to calibrate your monitor for print?

    I've used Ka-blam before for two anthologies. They were really great to work with, and friends who have worked with them have had errors in their books that weren't in the proof copy, and they gladly fixed it on their dime. They check your pages against their template to ensure everything is in a safe zone, and nothing important will get cut off, or they will notify you. I also had one dude in the anthology make a splash page (even though the coordinators explicitly banned spreads to make laying out the book easier), and I was off a page. They let me know the spread would have been on the right hand side of one page, and the following page, and not work. Really great people.
    But honestly, I can get books printed for cheaper via local print shops if I'm willing to fold, staple, and cut them myself. Usually Office Depot or Staples will have a coupon in the paper for 25% off black and white prints, so I have them print the guts from a pdf. Then I have the print shop just do the covers. I've got a guillotine paper cutter and long arm stapler at home, and they've served me well. I also kind of get some sort of sick joy out of making comics out of endless stacks of paper. I think it's the whole DIY aspect, while still making a book that looks professional.
    Great show as always, and thanks for the retweet while I was at a con last week!
    Jesse

  6. 5 nick marino

    @Brian: i had to read your first paragraph three times to understand it!! but i finally figured out what you mean. i do both -- i test the colors with my screen all of the way dark AND lighten them. i think the thing about having the screen really dark is that you'll end up with a nice mix of light tones but you'll also end up with some way over-saturated tones as well. at least, that happened to me with my old laptop that had a really dim monitor.

    the metallic wrapping paper idea sounds cool! too bad it didn't work. maybe that newsprint i wanna work with would light on fire. EEP!

    @Ross: hahaha yeah you woulda schooled us on the right printing terms, i'm sure. also, i'm glad you mentioned the 10% dot gain because i've never heard that before!

    @Daniel: yeah, inkjets are poop.

    @Jesse: i've never used Adobe Gamma before. didn't know it existed! thx for the tip.

    ka-blam sounds pretty legit to me from all of the stories i've heard. at least, i've never heard nightmares about them like i did about comixpress.

    i assembled my past couple year's worth of self-published comics the same way as you, with a paper cutter and booklet stapler. it's fun but it's also so time consuming and maddening when the staple is off or you miss with the paper cutter. i've probably put together 300 comics like that since 2010. and i had fun with it! but not THAT much fun. more headaches than fun, even though i did really enjoy it at times.

    and good tip about the office depot / staples coupons for copies! i didn't know they had that type of stuff in the circulars.

  1. 1 The Comics Podcast Network » Sequential Underground #68
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