General Technical Specs

Here at Ka-Blam we’ve tried to make the readying of your files for our printing process as simple and as painless as possible.   While each different product type has a few specific requirements, there are FIVE basic things that apply to almost all the products.  Just five simple things you need to get right.

1. File Format

If you’re comfortable building print ready PDFs then you may send us a print ready PDF. Just be SURE that your PDF is compliant with all technical specifications — size, dimensions, compression, etc. Also, be sure you’ve converted all fonts to curves.

If you’re not quite ready to build your own PDF, then we can do it for you. You’ll just need to supply TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) files for each page.

Be sure the files are flattened (no extra layers or channels).

Be sure they are saved using LZW compression.  LZW compression is lossless, meaning that there is no loss of image quality.  Uncompressed files are much larger (often 400% larger than uncompressed files) and will take a lot longer both on the upload and the download.   There is no benefit to sending uncompressed files.  There is only the downside of increased upload and download times.

NEVER save files intended for print as JPGs or with jpg compression. JPG compression is destructive by design. It prioritizes smaller file size over image quality integrity. If you’ve already saved your files using JPG compression, then some damage has already been done. If it’s possible for you to start over from a master copy we recommend that.

Color files are best sent in RGB mode.   If your files are already in CMYK, then leave them that way.   Don’t convert them back to RGB.  You’ll only distort your colors by doing that.

Black and white files should be in Grayscale mode.

2. Resolution

Your files MUST be 300 DPI (dots per inch).

300 DPI is the optimal resolution for our system.

If the resolution of your files is less than 300 DPI, your print quality will suffer. If the resolution of your files is greater than 300 DPI you will not see any discernible improvement in print quality, your files sizes will be larger (much larger in some cases), and you may actually slow down your turnaround time.

Screen-sized images (72 DPI) and formats (jpgs, gifs, pngs, etc.) are UNPRINTABLE in ALL cases.

3. Dimensions

Simply put, this is the height and width (in inches) of your comic book pages or non-comic book product.  Each product has its own required height and width.

4. Name your files properly!

Sorry, but this is a big issue with us and one that causes way, way too much confusion and consternation, not to mention lost productivity and even a few reprints.

Here’s a simple naming scheme that works terrifically –

Name your cover files like this –
A_frontcover.tif
B_insidefront.tif
Y_insideback.tif
Z_backcover.tif

Name your interior page files with a three digit numerical scheme, like this –
001.tif, 002.tif, 003.tif etc.

The first page of the comic is always 001.tif. The second page is 002.tif, etc. It doesn’t matter if the first page of the comic is an introduction page or a credits page or a special thanks page or a dedicated to page while the story proper begins on the second page or even the third page. The file that will be the first interior page of printed comic is NOT intro.tif or thanks.tif or credits.tif. It is 001.tif.

Make sense?

There’s no need to send a pagination guide, or a page order resource file, or any special instructions on how to assemble the book. Just name the files properly.

By the way, the important part of this is the numbering. Feel free to include the prefix of your choice in the file name. For example it doesn’t have to be just 001.tif, it could be KungFuMonkey_001.tif or KFM001.tif.  Including the proper page number in the file name is the key.

5. And lastly … Zip it Up!

After you’ve got all of your files whipped into shape, then please, please, please, archive them into a single downloadable file! You can use winzip or WinRaR or StuffIt or whatever else you’ve got so long as we get a single downloadable file.  It’s less trouble for you in the upload and far, far less trouble for us in the download.

40 Comments

  1. For the color mode, should it be at 8 16 or 32 bit?

  2. 8 bit please.

  3. I have never sent files to anyone using an ftp service or site. Have uploaded to my site however.

    How is it done? Are there free sites?

    Can you get the files from a folder on my website?

    Even if you took email – it was too big for email.

    ED

  4. Please consult the FAQ.

  5. Can we send black and white images in CYMK mode, or will that f up the printing process on your end (ie: create more work, etc.)? The reason I ask, is I export the image to tiff in grayscale, and the image becomes a bit darker. I’ll mess with it in photoshop if it creates problems with the printing process.

  6. Black and white files do need to be sent in grayscale mode, please.

  7. Curious. If I’m creating in Photoshop, is the lettering going to print okay or is there a better way to approach this? Thanks ahead of time…

  8. if i want a blank page in between chapters, i suppose it will be counted in the page count, but do i need to send in a blank tiff file numbered just the same as the others? thanks

  9. If I want a custom size (like 7×7) how much margin should I add around the files for bleed? 0.5 inches on every side?

  10. The margins and the bleeds are a constant. So the easy way to calculate for a custom-sized job is to take the final trimmed dimensions that you want and add an 0.125 inches to all for sides to create your full bleed dimensions and then from the trimmed size move inward by 0.25 inches on all four sides to create you live area.

    So for example if you wanted a final trimmed size of 7 x 7. Then you’re full bleed size would be 7.25 x 7.25 and your live are would be 6.75 x 6.75.

  11. Yes. If you want a blank page you need to include a blank page (as a placeholder) in the files you send.

  12. If your resolution is 300dpi your lettering will be just fine. Personally though I find using photoshop for lettering to be a clunky experience. I’d recommend Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw instead.

  13. On the topic of must know dimensions and file labeling and formats…

    I would assume that the spine would be as labeled in the calculator/order form: height of book by whatever width it gives you and of course 300dpi.

    My question is though, do you guys have any specific requirements as to what I should call the file so it will be easier to find? Or maybe just going about and labeling it C_Spine.tif to follow suit in your example above and make it easier?

    Juuuuust wondering since I didn’t really see this anywhere.

  14. It’s really up to you what you name the spine file. The right dimensions are far more important than the name. If it’s not instantly recognizable to us as the spine file then it’s clearly wrong.

  15. When you say zip it, do you mean only .zip files, or are .rar allowed, winrar compresses better than zip in my experience.

  16. Sorry for the lack of clarity. We used the word ‘zip” somewhat generically. Rar is fine as is sit, sitx, and most other popular archiving formats. All are perfectly acceptable.

  17. Can you clarify one thing on the spine file? Should it include the top and bottom bleed and trim areas?

    For example, our book is going to be 82 pages (0.18″ spine according to the calculator), and will be custom sized 8″ wide by 10″ tall.

    Am I right in thinking that the spine file should be 0.18″ wide by 10.25″ tall? Or should it be 0.18″ wide by 10″ tall exactly?

    Thank you in advance!

  18. Spines ALWAYS bleed off so, “yes” your spine should include a bleed.

  19. I plan to use screentones with Manga Studio EX4. What is your maximum LPI for printing black and white art?

    Thanks.

  20. Don’t go by LPI. Go by DPI. 300dpi is what you want. Linescreen (LPI) isn’t really relevant to our process.

  21. Can the page-number scheme be expanded to four digits instead of three? And can it start with a number other than 1?

    I ask only because my own comic already has nearly 300 pages and will likely go over a thousand before I’m done. While I have no intention of printing them all in a single book, it’ll just be about a million times easier to keep track of everything and cut down on the work if I don’t have to re-number every page from book to book.
    If, say, Book #2 started with page #0250 instead of #250 or #001, would that completely break the system, or is that workable?

  22. Four digits is fine.

    You can number your pages however you want, really. Simplest is always best though. The idea is to make it as intuitive and non-confusing as possible.

    I would however STRONGLY advise that you keep your odds and evens straight. Meaning this … the first interior page of your book (page one regardless of what you name it) is an ODD page. The second page is an EVEN page. To avoid confusion (that’s the key here) you should NEVER name with an even number a page that will be printed as an ODD page. So the first page of your book could be “page0251.tif” if you wanted, but if we see “page0250.tif” then the natural, intuitive assumption is that that is an EVEN page.

  23. If I’m ordering black & white interior pages, as long as the file is in grayscale, does that also mean gray tones or strictly black and white?

  24. If I’m opting to include the Kablam ad in the inside back cover, I don’t need to include a file for it do I?

  25. Black and White DOES include grayscales.

  26. Please help! Slightly confused here. Would page001.tif be the first actual interior page of the book? Would this page be a single page? this would be followed by page002.tif and page003.tif which would form a double page spread? Is this right?

  27. If I understand what you’re asking, then yes you are correct. Covers (front, back, interior front, interior back) are never included in the page count. Page count refers to interior pages ONLY. Opening the comic would reveal the interior front cover and page 001, turning the page would reveal pages 002 and 003.

  28. If I plan on sending you several issues or a series, is there a naming convention you prefer? (eg: ComicIssue001_Page001.tif – would that be too confusing? Is there a better way?)

  29. As long as your pages are numbered in proper sequence we’ll be fine.

  30. If I’m doing a manga that has been drawn as a manga, reading from right to left that is, should I still name the pages as 001 if the first page starts from the right? Or do I have to reverse the naming of the pages, and start with the last page?

  31. This question comes up from time to time. Here’s the thing …

    99.9% of EVERYTHING we print is in the traditional western left-to-right orientation. So you if want to do the OPPOSITE of that — if you want your book printed in the eastern right-to-left style — please don’t assume that we’re just going to automatically do it for you. You have to IDIOT-PROOF it for us. Reverse the naming of your pages, please.

  32. Something I’ve wanted to know:

    If we are opting for the Ka-Blam ad, should we still provide a file for the page on which it would appear?

  33. I understand DPI… but ufortuantely I’ve lived in a world of pixel dimensions since so much has been forced to the screen.

    I’m dealing with recent (yestreday) Daz3D art that absolutely is of print quality and stuff from yearsa go that I may not have larger files of.

    What are the smallest dimenions, pixel wise that you’ve seen print okay? I do have a remedy of resizing the art to 300 DPI and re-lettering but I’d like to avoid that where possible…

  34. I’d really like to know the answer to Ave’s question.

  35. No. You need provide nothing. We’ll place the ad.

  36. 300 dpi is the optimal resolution for our equipment. Below that there is a visible drop in image quality. I can’t recommend ANY size smaller than 300dpi.

  37. This is just further building on Ave’s question. On the ordering page, it states that Ka-Blam may not choose to purchase advertising on the comic, therefore there will be no ad and no discount.

    If we choose this option and an ad is not placed that would leave with a blank page or cover. Should we provide an image of our own in the event that the ad is not placed? If not, would the replacement fee apply if we added the file after the fact (again, in the event the ad was not placed)?

  38. Good questions.
    We would notify you should we decline to run and ad. So you would have ample time to send us another page.
    Keep in mind we rarely decline to run an ad.
    Also, no, in this case you are not charged a replacement fee.
    Jen

  39. Hi there!

    I’ve just discovered Ka-Blam and already chose it to be the responsible for my Dad’s dream becoming true: publishing his text book! :)

    I have a question though:

    I’m almost finishing a PDF which contains everything: cover and book contents already in template sized pages. My question is: should I insert blank pages in the PDF for internal front and back covers?

    As for the spine file, is that ok to send it separately as a TIFF file?

    Hope to hear from you soon! Thanks in advance!

    Bruno

  40. The PDF you submit should contain everything as you want it to appear in the finished product. That means text pages MUST be typeset (be sure to convert all fonts to curves before finalizing the PDF you send to us), it means if there are blank pages you need to include those blanks in the position that you want them. If means you want the pages numbered you need to include page numbers in the PDF, etc. The covers — front, back, spine (and interior covers if applicable) should all be sent as TIFF files in compliance with our technical specs. Thanks!

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