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How to eBook (picture book edition, part III)

June 3, 2013

DDM2.01.inddWelcome to part three in my ongoing series, How to eBook, picture book edition. If you want to self-publish an eBook, you’ve come to the right place. I will be taking you from the writing and planning stage, through production, and all the way to publishing and making it available on Amazon.

In part one I discussed the preliminary steps: Writing your manuscript and planning out your dummy.

In part two I discussed sizing, creating and scanning final art. Now on to part three: Preparing Art Files for the Mechanical.


By now you should have your art saved as 32 individual 300dpi .tif files. (If not go back to part two). In addition to your art files, for today’s steps, you will need Photoshop and a basic knowledge of its use.

STEP V. Assembling Scans as Spreads:

Picture 1
Raw scans of pages 10 and 11 opened in Photoshop 

Now before I go any further, let me give you a little long view of where we are headed. Ultimately we will be building a 32 page mechanical in InDesign. (A mechanical is graphic designer speak for the layout file that has all of the art and type, arranged and assembled at the appropriate resolution and ready for production).

Open each individual page scan in Photoshop.

If you have been following this tutorial, you will recognize the above image samples as pages 10 and 11 from my eBook, Duck Duck Moose on a Plane. If you have art that lives on a single page you will clean it and crop it. If you have art that covers a spread (like most of the illustrations in Duck Duck Moose on a Plane) you will join each left and right page into a single file, that will become the spread.

NOTE: Usually, in real life—in traditional printing—you would leave a bleed of at least an eighth of an inch around your art. (The bleed, is the area outside the cropping area. A traditional page would be printed and trimmed. You include a bleed so if a page is not trimmed precisely, it still looks correct).

But if you’ve been following this tutorial you know my first rule:

RULE #1: Be efficient!

To make less work for myself later when I build my mechanical I am making my Photoshop file’s canvas size exactly the size of my final pages. Since nothing is being trimmed—since in the digital world, an edge is an edge—I am knowingly breaking this rule.

I am working with pages 8.25″ x 10.5″ (That’s the standard 8″ x 10″ at 104%), so my final Photoshop file for a single page would be saved as 8.25″ x 10.5″; a spread (pictured) would be 16.5″ x 10.5″. (I am saving my files as 300dpi .tifs; but if memory is an issue, you can get away with 200dpi):

Picture 2
My final art file for spread 10-11

It is not my intention to instruct you on the use of Photoshop, but I will share a few basics to get you to this point. To join two files, open your left and right page files at the same time. In this example that’s 10.tif and 11.tif respectively. Then do the following:

• Change the “canvas size” of 10.tif to well over twice it’s size. Make sure to position the art in the top left corner when you grow the file.

• Select the contents of 11.tif and drag/drop them (or cut/paste them) into 10.tif.

• Photoshop will put the imported art from 11.tif, into a separate layer. Move it to its proper position and “flatten” your file.

• Using your best cloning and ’shopping skills, make your file one nice clean image and crop to the exact size as discussed above.

A note about type and text: In my sample above you will notice that I have added some type into my art file, but I did not add the text itself: I did not place the actual copy for the story. This will be done in InDesign. Photoshop is great for many things, but it sucks for flowing text.

If you want to place your text in Photoshop, be my guest, I’m not a cop, but you will likely run into trouble later. You may find typos, you may want to edit something—and if you don’t know RULE#1 by now—I can’t help you.

•   •   •

That’s it for today. The next post will be about building your digital mechanical.
Stay tuned …

From → How to eBook

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