05 August 2008

From the Forum: Creating PDFs

The Question:
I want to put my comic in a PDF. How do I make a reasonable sized PDF. I've tried, but the file size is too high or the image quality is poor.

My steps for making PDF includes 2 or 3 pieces of software.
- Adobe Photoshop and/or Illustrator
- PDF Split-Merge

Keep in mind that I use a PC.

If I'm starting from Illustrator, export the file as a high resolution TIFF (at least 300 DPI). Open the TIFF file in Photoshop, do any image manipulation required, and then flatten the image.

For online distribution, I suggest saving your PDF file at 100 DPI. This is enough to provide your users with a decent file for viewing and personal printing without giving them a print quality file that they can use to mass produce copies of your work. Be sure that black and white files are saved in grayscale mode and that color files are saved in RGB mode.

For your print needs, you want to save the PDF file at, at least, 300 DPI. (I use 450 DPI). Consult your printer for color mode requirements.

Save this file again as a TIFF (for storage) and then as a single file PDF. Repeat these steps for each one of the files for your project.

NOTE: Photoshop allows you to record actions, so that you can reduce repetitive steps down to a simple mouse click. As a comic book self-publisher you should become familiar with this aspect of Photoshop.

Once you have all your single image PDF files, it's now time to merge them into one single multi-page document. I do this via PDF Split-Merge. With PDF Split-Merge, it's a simple as selecting the PDF files you want to merge together, setting the order of the pages, naming the new file, and clicking RUN. This will create a single multi-page PDF file for you.

Black and white image should be more than 1-2MB per page. Color files can be 10 times that size.
With my sample book (Warmageddon), the final size for the 32 pages with full color exterior covers was around 50MB. That's 34 pages (32 pages plus the 2 interior covers) of black and white files and 2 pages of full color (the exterior covers).