Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Laying Out Your Final

It's often confusing for illustrators in how to set up their illustrations for publication. If you are creating an illustration for your portfolio or for a gallery you don't need to know this information. If you are working in a traditional medium this is vital to know. I've done several of my own layouts, but I still attempted to fact check this. I was very irritated to find very little easily accessible information about page layouts for books! Let me know if you notice any mistakes.

I color coded this chart. It is for a 8 x 10 picture book.

Yellow = Handling Area
Red = Bleed
Blue = Gutter
Green lines = Crop Marks

The areas that are red, blue and white will be filled with your image.

Masking area -- This is 2" so printers don't get your work smudgy. Mask this area off with masking tape. I recommend using cheap tissue paper on anything the tape didn't cover (including the back). Often the bottom of this area will be 3" instead of 2".

Bleed - This goes 1/4" into your 2" border. Your image needs to go out into this area. The bleed will be trimmed off your final book. You need the bleed on this (and anything you are printing) so that your image goes to the edge of the pages. Do not place text any closer than 1/4 inch to the bleeds.

Gutter - Unlike the bleed this 1/2" area will not be cut from your work. Do not put anything important in this area! In a picture book this area will likely not be seen (or seen well) because the inside of the picture is bound here. 

Crop Marks - This is where the printer will cut your image. This will be marked in black ink when you send out your final images. 

Measure your image carefully when laying out your image. A #2 mechanical pencil works well for lay out work. Draw your lines lightly. The image below shows more clearly where you need to make your pencil marks. Make them on the solid lines (edge of the bleed area) and down the middle. The only areas that need black ink are the crop marks, and that's only if the image is going to print.

If any of this is confusing please let me know! If you are color blind and can't properly see the above images, please let me know and I'll send you a black and white version.


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  2. Thank you so much, Dani. This is so important to know. Oh, the gutter. Watch out for this big monster with teeth!

  3. Oh! Dani, I wish I were you! Thank you so very much for your webpage, for your efforts in constantly posting new items, for your beautiful drawings, for your valuable information and passion to teach. But my most heartfelt thank you goes for being SOOO generous in trying to share your passion to the "ILLUSTRATORS WORLD."

  4. Excellent diagram! Thanks for the reminder on the extended canvas area with crop marks. Do publishers still require this? Amazon wanted a JPEG with an 1/8" trim edge on a book cover. What is commonly done in the 1/2" gutter space? Would you continue 1/4" of a full spread from the opposite page?

  5. Terrific diagram! What is commonly done in the 1/2" gutter? Would you recommend continuing the spread from the opposite page into the gutter for a 1/4"?