(With apologies to the late Mr. Jones for use of his three bears!)
Presentation is very important when you're sharing your comic with the world on the digital medium. There's so much potential for distraction, so you need to make sure that what you are presenting to your audience is keeping their attention focused on what you're bringing them. To that end, you must pay special attention to keeping that focus where you want it– and for a webcomic, it's the page!
Not the title banner, not the navigation, not your fancy-pants wallpaper you pasted behind it all. All these should serve to guide the eyes to the prize! They should give some small flavor to your comic, never distract from it.
One of the things I've noticed especially as of late is that newcomers post banners that are WAY too big. You should never, ever post a banner as large as your actual page! Imagine opening a comic book and every time you turn the page, the cover of the comic is in place of the next sequence, and this goes on through the entire story. This is what you do to your reader when your banner is over 400px tall! This can make reading your comic difficult and frustrating on desk top and virtually impossible on a mobile device. Keep that vertical resolution under 300px and it's smooth reading for your audience. We're not here to be reminded what comic we are reading every time we hit the “next” button, we are here to actually read it!
I've also seen a struggle to find the right size, and a consistent size, for a comic page. One size does not fit all when it comes to digital comics! I can personally attest to the difficulty in finding the right resolution for my art when it's ready to be posted. The screen resolution on my work monitor is much higher than the resolution on my laptop where I upload and view the comics online.
I work on everything at a very large resolution (5102 x 7015 pixels) and adjust the proportions for the web to 900 x 1237. For years and up until rather recently, it was 700 pixels across! The dimensions I settled on correlate to the page size of standard printer paper, for those instances I scan some traditional art in for the page.
When I first started making comics online, I didn't quite understand the ins and outs of resolution and DPI and all that jazz, and pages were wildly varied in size and proportion. A good rule I learned early on is that vertical matters a little less than horizontal. On the web, readers are already used to scrolling down to read, which is why so many “infinite canvas” style comics thrive on other sites. Very few try to attempt the panel-by-panel horizontal style that newspaper comics are known for, perhaps because it is not friendly to the scroll-wheel most mice come equipped with today, though perhaps less of an issue for tablets. This is something you as a creator should also take into consideration when determining your page size. Not too wide so that you are not forcing your audience to fiddle around with scroll-bars to take it all in. Not too skinny that your dialogue is lost in a gray blur. To that end, I have seen artists transcript their too-small dialogue in their author's notes! If it's that poorly legible, the best solution is to try a new resolution and re-upload!
Not only must you balance what is visible on the screen and how well centered it is, but another thing to consider is how the resolution you choose works with your art style. Simple art styles with thicker lines, simple shading with large color fields and shapes can look very good at smaller sizes but be a bit overwhelming at larger sizes.
High-detail art with lots of small objects thrive at larger sizes and lose some of that detail when brought to too low a resolution. Never go too large however tempting it may be! I find just shy of over 1000px to be a good size for most of these comics, though typically I've seen them posted on sites like tumblr where it automatically resizes them to under 600px.
Whatever size you choose, you must make sure that it is taking the other elements of your comic into consideration as well! As I mentioned, your font legibility is important! If you choose a small size page, make sure you have fonts intended for easy visibility at small resolution. Fancy serif fonts are a bad choice for comics that want to have tiny panels.
Overall, just don't be afraid to test things out. Save multiple documents at different sizes and if you need to see how they look on your site, upload them in the queue for a future date. DD lets you preview your pages and you can see how it will look when it goes live on the update day. Adjust if you need to! There's no harm in trying different things out!
What size are your pages, and why did you decide that was what fit best?
Have you ever posted your comic on a site that auto-resized it to a bad fit for your art?
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Amelius at 10:28AM, Nov. 4, 2018
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