Printing and Publishing by Bank Phrom

Publishing 101: How to Print your own Comic Books

Everything you ever needed to know about how to go about printing your own comics books. No jargon. Just simple explanations for print file setup.


It feels as though the print industry has kept self publishers in the dark when it comes to creating correct files for printing. And that secreting away information about bleed, binding, papers and pricing has kept traditional printers in control.

Thankfully, the rise in online printing has empowered people to take charge! So Adam from Mixam has written this very detailed guide using our Skies of Fire comics, to clearly and concisely explain how to print your comic books.


• Sizes
• Print File Setup
• Trim Line
• Bleed Area
• Quiet Area
• CMYK Color
• Image Resolution
• PDFs
• Paper
• Finishes
• Binding
• Templates
• Examples
• Summary


Before you begin drawing your artwork, you should choose what size your comic will be.

The vast majority of people create US Standard 6.7" x 10.2" sized comic books. This is the industry standard size, which we recommend, because most comic store shelves are designed to accommodate these dimensions. Although Skies of Fire is a custom sized comic, measuring 8” x 11”. There is also Manga Standard 5" x 7.5" and a number of smaller sizes for Japanese comics.

If you have already created your artwork or are planning to print a web comic, you may need to request a Custom Size from your printer. Just bear in mind that if your comic isn’t printed to an industry standard, you may have issues with comic stores stocking it.


Once you’ve chosen your comic size and produced your artwork, it’s time to create a PDF print file for printing.

In this walkthrough we’re using a US Standard size comic book, which has a Saddle Stitched (also known as Staple Bound) binding, because this is the most common kind of comic. We’ll explain more about binding types further down. But first, let’s cover the basics of Trim LinesBleed and Quiet areas.

The reason you need these areas in your design is because your comic art is about to go through an industrial printing process of ink, paper, blades and rollers. As perfectly calibrated as these machines may be, there may be the minutest of movement, which can affect the exact alignment of artwork on your pages.

Your print file is as much about setting your expectations for your printed comic book, as it is providing instructions to the person setting up the printing machines.


As the name suggests, this is where you want your pages to be trimmed. So for a US Standard size comic, the Trim Line area will measure 6.7" x 10.2".

But, when your comic book is manufactured, it’s possible for the page edge to fall just outside or just inside of the Trim Line by a fraction of a millimetre or so. This outside area is known as the Bleed and the inside area is known as the Quiet zone


You always need to add a 0.125” area to every outside edge of your Trim Line. The Bleed area is always 0.125” regardless of the size of your pages. Although there are some exceptions, depending on your chosen binding, which we will cover further down.

The reason you need to add a Bleed area to your design is so that if the pages are trimmed just outside of the Trim Line, you won’t end up with an unsightly white edge.

So always ensure that your design completely covers the Bleed area.


You should always mark a 0.25” area to every inside edge of your Trim Line. We call this the Quiet Area. Some printers call this the Danger Zone. And some printers call the area inside of the Quiet Area the Safe Zone. But we’re all telling you the same thing, which is to keep any important elements of your design 0.25” away from the Trim Line.

Because your pages could be trimmed slightly inside of the Trim Line. Which can result in the edge of your design being cut off. This is why you keep any important design elements, like text, out of the Quiet area.

Similarly, it also keeps important design elements away from the edge where the pages are bound together. If you have a comic book with many pages, it can be difficult to see into the gutter when flipping through.

The Quiet Area is always 0.25” regardless of the size of your pages. Although different binding types can have larger requirements, explained later on in this guide.



The RGB color spectrum you see on your computer screen is produced by Light. The CMYK color spectrum you see printed on paper is produced by mixing paint… or more accurately, Ink.

This means that if you produce your artwork on the computer in RGB, it will need to be converted to CMYK so that it can be printed. Printing machines automatically convert this. Some online printers have an advanced system that more accurately converts colors from RGB to CMYK. But there is a risk that some of your colors will look very different when printed.

We recommend that you design all of your artwork using a CMYK color setting in your chosen design program. Or, if you do convert from RGB to CMYK in a design program, that you manually fine tune the CMYK values to avoid disappointment.

The color profiles we recommend using are ISO coated V2, U.S. Coated SWOP v2 and GraCOL2006. You can select these in most design programs.


If the DPI (dots per inch) of your images are too low, they will not print clearly and appear blurry or pixelated. 300 DPI is the recommended image resolution for printing. So when creating your artwork design, check the settings on your design program.

However, you should also ensure that your resolution is no higher than 400 DPI, as anything above this will not improve the image quality any further. Instead it will start to slow down the process, due to all the extra information.


Once you’ve finished creating your artwork, save it as a PDF file. While you could upload individual pages, online printers prefer to receive a single PDF file, containing all the pages of your comic book, starting with your front cover and ending with your back cover.

Some online printers will accept other file types. However, you may experience issues with image resolution quality and other technical issues. Which is why most printers will insist that you supply them with PDFs.


There are typically 3 paper types to choose from. Each alters the presentation of your artwork.

Satin is the recommended standard paper choice for the most accurate print reproduction. Gloss is shiny and slightly increases the contrast of your artwork. Uncoated has a slightly rough texture and dulls the color of your artwork. Very popular for more rustic, vintage looking comics.

Most creators choose satin for their interior pages and sometimes gloss for their cover pages. The idea is that the shiny gloss cover helps their comic to stand out on the shelf, while the satin interior paper reproduces their artwork as accurately as possible. Although satin covers are equally common.

We recommend choosing these papers, unless you want to give your comic a sketch cover, in which case, you will need an Uncoated cover. This is because it’s very difficult to draw on Satin or Gloss papers.

Paper also comes in a variety of thicknesses. 70 to 100 lb for your interior pages. And 80 to 130 lb for your cover pages. Although the lb scale for interior pages and cover pages are not the same. Cover pages are considerably thicker! A 100 lb cover page is twice as thick as a 100 lb interior page.

While choosing very thin papers may reduce production costs, choosing thicker papers will help to produce a better quality comic book. However, if your page count is low and your paper is very thick, it can make it difficult for readers to flip through. A similar issue can occur if your page count is low and your cover is very thick. So if your page count is low, choose a low paper weight.

You may choose not to have cover pages at all and instead use your first interior page to present cover artwork instead. This will help ensure that your comic is easy to flip through. Although it won’t have the protection of the laminated finish. Which brings us to choosing a finish for your cover pages.



Also known as laminations, finishes enhance the presentation of your comic, while giving your cover some extra protection to prevent the paper from wearing or the ink from rubbing off.

The two most common finishes are Matte lamination, which gives a satin like protective coating and Gloss lamination, which is a gloss varnish that makes your cover look shiny, while slightly increasing the saturation of your cover artwork.

Both Satin and Gloss cover papers can hold these laminations. Typically creators apply a Matte lamination to a Satin paper or a Gloss lamination to a Gloss paper. Meanwhile Uncoated papers cannot easily hold a laminated finish, so we would not recommend trying.

While some creators like to keep their costs down, laminating your cover papers prevents scuffs, scratches and other damage which can occur in packing, shipping and handling over time.


There are 3 typical types of comic book binding.

Staple bound (aka: Saddle Stitched) is the most common for comic books. It consists of 2 staples punched through the middle of the pages, which binds them all together.
Perfect bound (aka: PUR) is basically a paperback book. So it’s great for graphic novels, collected editions of a comic series and more premium looking comic books. It has a nice square edged spine, which can also be printed on for when your books are lined up on a shelf. However, you need a sufficient number of pages in order to use this binding type.

Casebound (aka: Hardcover) is basically a hardcover book. Not as common in comic books, except for collected volumes. This is because you need a sufficiently high page count to casebound a comic book. Also, because the cost is high compared to perfect bound or staple bound options. So this is reserved to the most premium products.

Your chosen binding will have an impact on the way you design your pages and you will need to consider this when you are making your print ready PDFs

While a 0.125” bleed area and 0.25” quiet area all round works for Staple bound comics, Perfect bound comics require a larger 0.4” quiet area on the binding edge, to allow for the square spine that holds all your pages together. You also need to supply a spine design along with your pages. Thankfully spine width calculators are a common feature among online printing websites.

Casebound books have the same requirements as Perfect bound books for their interior pages. But the Casebound hardcover is considerably more complicated with larger quiet areas and a very large ‘wrap around’ Bleed area. Check out the templates below to see the difference for yourself.


  • Staple Bound Template (US Standard size)
  • Perfect Bound Template (US Standard size)
  • Casebound Cover Template (US Letter size)
  • Casebound Interior Template (US Letter size)


Now to put all this knowledge into practice and show you some examples of popular configurations for comic books and graphic novels as well as hardcover books. And for obvious reasons, the number of sides must always be divisible by 4.

1. Comic Book
  • US Standard size 6.7” x 11.2”
  • 40 sides
  • Staple bound
  • Satin interior paper 80 lbs
  • Satin cover paper 80 lbs
  • No laminated finish
  • 0.125” bleed area on all sides
  • 0.25” quiet area on all sides

These are the specifications for a typical comic book. Skies of Fire is actually very similar with a 8” x 11” custom size and features gloss papers instead of satin.

2. Graphic Novel
  • US Standard size 6.7” x 11.2”
  • 180 sides
  • Perfect bound
  • Satin interior paper 80 lbs
  • Gloss cover paper 130 lbs
  • Gloss laminated finish
  • 0.125” bleed area on all sides
  • 0.25” quiet area on all sides
  • Additional quiet area totalling 0.4” on the spine side of each page, including cover
  • Spine file needed
Graphic novels are usually Perfect bound, have a higher page count and often feature a gloss cover with shiny gloss lamination for a high quality appearance. Although you can have as few as 40 sides to access Perfect binding for your comic book. It just costs more than Staple bound.


3. Hardcase Collected Volume

  • US Letter size 8,5” x 11”
  • 200 sides
  • Casebound
  • Satin interior paper 80 lbs
  • Satin cover paper (board)
  • Matte laminated finish
  • Interior pages 0.125” bleed area on all sides
  • Interior pages 0.25” quiet area on all sides
  • Interior pages quiet area totalling 0.4” on the spine side of each page, including cover
  • Cover pages - see template
  • Spine file needed


Well, that’s all the basics covered! Now that you know about the fundamental paper types, laminations, bindings and print file setup, you’re ready to get to work on your comic.

Key Takeaways:

  • Always add 0.125” Bleed
  • Always create your artwork in CMYK color
  • Always provide 300 DPI resolution images
  • Always submit PDF files

Rather than giving your comic to your local printer and asking them to work their magic behind closed doors, you are now fully in control when it comes to printing your books. And because you’re no longer dependent on anyone else for your print file, you can freely compare your options online and make your budget go a lot further.

Download helpful templates for print here. 

For more printing knowledge, visit Mixam’s new support section.


Adam Smith is the Marketing Manager at Mixam - a new comic book printer that’s disrupting the industry through innovation with their Instant Price Calculator and online features to make print easy and accessible to everyone. And best of all, Skies of Fire is now printed by them!
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