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Getting The Size Just Right

Amelius at 10:28AM, Nov. 4, 2018

(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?

Special thanks to our patrons!!

Justnopoint - Banes - Stinger9 - Rmccool - Abt Nihil - Phoenixignis - Gunwallace - Cdmalcolm1 - Scruff



Ozoneocean at 6:19PM, Nov. 6, 2018

@Justnopoint I'll ask Alexey about it and get him to Quote. :)

JustNoPoint at 5:42AM, Nov. 6, 2018

"On tapas it's even worse, people chop them up into 3 bits, a smaller full image and then the two halves so you can see what's happening!" Heh, I'd been considering doing that on some sites. Not such a hot idea? The infinite canvas is the smart play in today's webcomic world. But don't worry Amelius. Give it a couple more years and our traditional paper style will be considered "retro" so we'll have those niche retro lovers fawning over us!

Avart at 8:49PM, Nov. 5, 2018

I think the most important thing is that your page needs to be clear, readable. I usually work on larger canvas and when all it's done I adjust to the posting size (I use 800px width, the lenght may vary) but the text is large and clear, even on a smarthpone you don't need to resize the image or zoom in to read. The first pages in my comic are traditional (you know, a comic) but since chapter 6 I use the scroll down format to make expectation on the reader, and knowing that the only way to read is to scroll down, you can't get lost.

PaulEberhardt at 2:01PM, Nov. 5, 2018

I've never understood those kids who just insist on straining their eyes with these tiny, tiny letters on smartphone screens. It kind of worries me, even. Through my teaching I noticed that they're a lot better at deciphering small writing than I have ever been, and with some even their handwriting gets tinier and tinier. However, that doesn't mean we could use smaller text sizes when lettering our comics now, because on the other hand they tire of reading much sooner than we did at their age, no matter what size the letters are.

PaulEberhardt at 1:21PM, Nov. 5, 2018

Best advice on this topic anyone can ever hope to get! I think you really can't please everybody, as far as page size is concerned. I remember when I first became interested in webcomics one thing it made me do was get a new screen that could do a 1024x768 resolution - yes, it's that long ago - and for years it still annoyed me when pages were too wide. Even on the rare occasion when I read a comic on a tablet I hate having to scroll sideways for some reason. Infinite canvas is cool, though. I love using it myself. That way you can read stuff without interruptions, and it makes use of something only the webcomic medium can give you. It has allowed me to use more extensive gag build-ups, that would never work that well in a print comic where you'd have to turn the pages.

Amelius at 8:47AM, Nov. 5, 2018

JustNoPoint, I feel your pain on that one! During the years when the site was taking away more and more options, I had to make a few painful calls on the way pages were presented. Very few sites make accommodations for the two-page spread. When people who post on a tumblr-comic template do a spread, it looks really wonky, I'll sit there waiting for the rest of the image to load before realizing OH that's the whole thing right there! On tapas it's even worse, people chop them up into 3 bits, a smaller full image and then the two halves so you can see what's happening!

Amelius at 8:34AM, Nov. 5, 2018

I suppose my opinion is, the more options we can offer here that other webcomic hosts are neglecting, the better! (I see lots of complaints on Tapas about their resizing) The navigation would certainly have to be taken into consideration for vertical pages, so long as that's solid it could be a viable option. I've seen some infinite canvas go vertically, but always on homemade sites. As for our current size limit, there's some comics on Smackjeeves that go up to 1200 wide that are still readable on mobile... though I do agree SOME sort of limit is necessary because of aforementioned novices. Some pages people posted were so big you could see the dust from the scanner on them! I wouldn't mind seeing it bumped up a little higher even though I'm not personally going that large.

bravo1102 at 4:34AM, Nov. 5, 2018

I blame smart phones. I want to go back to widescreen scroll panels and a format like Prince Valiant but it doesn't work with my writing. I understand the other view so well. But it can also be argued that the scroll down is more cinematic with a succession of images like cutting and montage and that's what's appealing. But I really understand JNP.

JustNoPoint at 3:10AM, Nov. 5, 2018

I get the mobile devices argument and I understand why so many people make the infinite canvas style comics for phones and such. But I’m old and set in my ways. I don’t read any comics on mobile and still prefer printed media. Lastly I don’t enjoy the aesthetics of infinite canvas comics and love playing with panel layouts in ways only single and double pages can allow. If I couldn’t make pages in a traditional paper back formatting so I can print them with KaBlam I more than likely wouldn’t be making comics at all! Also Ozone, if you need to PQ me about the price thing that’s fine. I’m legit interested

bravo1102 at 3:02AM, Nov. 5, 2018

Splash pages don't work on mobile devices. I'm doing more and more of my comic viewing on my smart phone. If there's a 1024 px wide page I have to scroll it out so far to see the whole thing that it might as well be a postage stamp. Put a link to the full-size OMG full resolution pictures that everyone can drool over and leave reasonable page sizes for those of us (and the newbies) who don't know better. On the web the future is scroll down with the long pages- not across. That's an obsolete remnant of print media. But then there's a lot of merit to what JNP says. I've found myself wishing I could do a splash double page as opposed to a banner that fits a web page. My pages are actually done below the DD resize because all my stuff is done for web viewing and nothing else. I've taught myself to give up on super detailed anything because I know how likely that it'll be cropped anyway. :/

JustNoPoint at 3:02AM, Nov. 5, 2018

So how much do you have to get for the “wide page” option? Or preferably the one I showed? I have a lot of 2 page splashes coming soon when I return. You won’t be able to read them at 960.

Ozoneocean at 10:51PM, Nov. 4, 2018

That's a good solution :) The width thing was put in by Lawrence when he reprogrammed the site back in 2010-2011. I protested it then and didn't see any reason for it. Since then I've changed my mind because it helps novices who don't know how to resize their pages It helps them a LOT- their comics would be unreadable otherwise. What I'd want is an option to upload a wide page if you wanted, like a tickbox that said: upload extra wide page.

JustNoPoint at 7:41PM, Nov. 4, 2018

I wasn't aware DD auto resized. What about 2 page splash pages?I typically do 900 px but the occasional 2 page splash will be almost double that. What would be great is if you had an option like I made for my site Here's an example. Where the 2 page splash is 900px wide but you can make it larger. Anyway, I def want an option or wider pages than 960 or 1024. I understand some misuse it and post stupid large stuff but don't punish everyone! ;_;

Ozoneocean at 4:34PM, Nov. 4, 2018

Excellent advice! I've made similar choices with my page sizes too. text size is the major limiting factor I've found... too small and it's either unreadable or you can't fit in enough text without coving all the art. DD still sizes pages down to 960 px. We should probably up that to 1024 or something? I wonder if we should have an option for vertically scrolling pages?

Banes at 3:15PM, Nov. 4, 2018

Excellent advice !!

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