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I am a little confused about the more technical side of publishing programs, and how APub fits in.  So my question is could APub be used to set up a graphic novel or comic book for print?  In the past, I have use  Clip Studio.  Great for drawing and page setup, but the lettering was a little disappointing.

 

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Oh yeah, the text handling in Clip Studio Paint. To say it's lacking is like saying the Sun is just a tad hot. When I was (plug time!) writing the Manga Studio 5 Beginner's Guide forPackt Publications, I had no nice words for the way It handled text. (for those not involved in comics, first there was Manga Studio then the same app got renamed Clip Studio Paint by the CelSys, the company that owned it. And of course the name change happened the very month my book was published!)

The most glaring thing is that Clip Studio doesn't do anything beyond just rendering the letters of an OpenType font. No special characters, no ligatures, no replacement pairs, etc. The lettering in Clip studio would have to improve just to suck badly. I was burned once -- I had lettered an entire graphic novel, about 60-odd pages and for some reason Clip Studio just stopped acknowledging the fonts I chose for dialog and captions (two different fonts, btw). So I had to go over each page,  select the text and choose the right font, one by one. I'm sweating and getting the shakes just remembering it. 

I mention this just as a way to show how badly independent comic creators need a good affordable lettering solution for comics. Comic Life is okay, but so far, my experience with Affinity Publisher Beta is very positive. I'm dealing with some medical issues (chemo is a bear!) and I've not messed around with a large page count yet. Hope to do that this week.

As far as the tech side of APub for comics, Look at some of the templates around for comics. I suggest you go to Blambot and look at his downloadable templates (which Designer can open, I know because I bought a copy of the templates). What I like about those templates at Blambot is that they're set up for print and PDF export that ComiXology requires. Just make sure that when you export you select the "All Spreads" option in the PDF export setting. That way if you have any 2page spreads, they'll be kept together as ComiXology wants 'em. 

I had to delete some of the template's "extra" stuff, like who's the letterer and other info. Mostly because I felt that since I was the only one to use this and it was going to be for my own work, it was superfluous and thus axed 'em all like Lizzy B. And the sublayers in the template are not named. Bad form, imo.

But the important stuff is the "Safe Area", "Trim" and Bleed Area. I used the Blambot Template to get the measurements for those areas for both a single page and a double page spread and made both into Master Pages with just the graphics for the three areas and for page numbers. Outside and Inside covers along with Text pages each get their own Master Pages.

Now if you do get the blambot template or just get the measurements and make your own (in which case I do recommend making the dashed rectangles for each area in Designer and  color them like Blue for the Safe area, Green for trim and Red for Bleed for example.) You'll want some layers for the lettering. Because of the way that APub currently treats Master pages, You'll have to create these layers and group them. Then make an asset of them. I've attached an image (APub_pageLayers_02) of how I have the layers set up. 

But first, you should have some standard comic styles set up. Like Dialog, Caption and so on. If you're using fonts from either Blambot or ComiCraft, starting with about 8.3pt to 9pt is good. Make sure that the Leading is the same as the font size and adjust for the demands of the font you chose. Blambot has a good tip page for that (for sure, check out his site for lots of good lettering info, and ComiCraft's site, at https://www.comicbookfonts.com/Default.asp , has good info, too.). One thing to make sure of is that in the Paragraph setting, make sure that the next paragraph setting is zero, else you may have a challenge, as sometimes we just have to have a line break where we need 'em so we get the text in the nice diamond shape we need for dialog and we don't want a double spaced empty space in the middle of a villain's rant, for example.

anyway...

Here's a walk-through of the layers....

The name I've given the group is Base Page Elements. Remember that it's easier to group things  and then make assets of them. You can, if you want, ungroup them once you've dragged the asset to the page. Hint: turn on snapping, make sure that Snap to Spreads is checked and any sub-options are checked too. That way when you drag the asset onto the page, you'll see the guides appear when you have the asset placed in the center of the page (or top/botton and sides).

The first layer is for sound effects that appear over all the art and/or text. This can be custom lettering done in designer and imported, or some other format (esp. a format that has transparency.)

The next layers we're interested in are the Lettering, Balloons, Tails and UnderBalloons. (the Lettering guides layer is from the Blambot Template and more info on that can be gotten from the website.) The lettering layer has all the text objects for balloons, caption boxes and other (non sound FX) text. First you make an ellipse (for dialog balloons) or rectangle (for caption boxes) and using the Frame Text tool, make the object into Frame Text. Then you either copy the text from the script (hopefully you're working from a script, if not, start writing the script now! It will really make things easier for you.) And then Paste without formatting, select the text and apply the text style you want. Rinse, lather repeat for each ballon or caption box.

The next triad of layers are the Balloon, Tails and Under Balloons. Scot McCloud has a 2 part You Tube video on this technique, this should take you to the videos: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=scott+mccloud+lettering Even though the videos feature Illustrator, the technique only requires a vector app that can create layers. The trick is the Balloon Layer has your balloon shape with no stroke, just a fill of the color you want. Then you copy the layer and either move it down to the Under Balloons layer and then give it a stroke that's twice the thickness you want. In my case I want the stroke to be 1.5 pts, so I stroke the Under Balloon shape to 3pt and make sure it's set to "Align Stroke to Center" and then I create a triangle in the Tail layer, set the fill to the color of the balloon and the stroke to the 1.5pt setting I want. And I get a seamless balloon with tail! And unlike a Single object,  I can move the tail around, add another one with no consequence at all. (It does help at this point to lock the Balloons layers so you don't accidentally select them)

finally we have the Sound Effects Underall layer. This is for sound effects that are below the balloons/captions and/or art. You can use the excellent masking abilities that APub has to make precise masks around sound effects you want to appear behind things.

And then in the artwork layer is where some magic happens. See the FullBleedMask is just a filled, unstroked white rectangle that is precisely the size of the page prior to any trimming. And since all the layers are empty, except for this (and the lettering guides which we'll not be getting into) layer -- we need something in this layer so the snapping mentioned earlier will work. And once placed, the rectangle could be resized to the Bleed area, if desired. When you import your artwork, make the artwork a child layer of the FullBleed Mask layer (just drag the artwork layer below the FBM Layer until you see the blue line indicating where the layer will be.) One thing I need to test out a bit more is the detection that imported graphics have been altered/changed. I think of it as the Refresh Graphics feature, off hand I don't remember what it's actually called and my copy of APub just crashed because I have Safari open at the same time as it it. Too lazy to reopen it and find out what that feature is called. But it's a sweet feature. Comic Life (a under $40 app, I mention in passing) had it when you chose reference exterior files instead of saving all in one file. This was nice for me, as I like to letter from my pencilled roughs and then export the lettering (with a transparent background) and import the lettering into CSP where i can then change the roughs if needed. It's like a second draft of the comic, and the second pass makes it better I feel, just like a novel goes though drafts, why not comics?

Keep in mind that only if we have a lengthy text piece in our graphic novel, we need not worry about text flow or such. And in the case of a text piece, just create a master page that has a layer that has vector rectangles of the text in one or two columns or more. Then make your text frames the size of the vectors in your pages. You can eyeball the title of the text piece. Use examples from other graphic novels for guidance.

So the answer to your question is yes, Affinity Publisher can be used for graphic novels. I suggest using the beta period as "practice time" to get used to the software and try out different techniques until the final release of APub 1.7. Hope this helps, if you have any more questions, ask and I'm sure that it will get answered. 

apb_pageLayers_02.png


2014 iMac, 3.5 Ghz Intel Core i7, Secondary Samsung SyncMaster B2430 display, 16GB RAM, MacOS10.12 || Magic keyboard w/numeric keypad, wireless trackpad, Kengsington Edge Trackball, Wacom Pro Large tablet || Flux Capacitor in a secure location

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I encourage kids to go ahead and play on my lawn. I mean, how else can I make sure the death-traps work?

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@CartoonMike

I am humbled by your extensive answer.

RE:  " To say it's (clip studio) lacking is like saying the Sun is just a tad hot. "  -  I actually laughed.

RE: " So I had to go over each page,  select the text and choose the right font, one by one "    - and cried with you.  sorry I chucked.

This is one of the best most extensive answers I have ever got for any question that I have posted or read by anyone else.  It was most appreciated.

 

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To be fair, the reason why ClipStudio's Western text handling is left wanting, is of course because the software's text engine was developed with Japanese text in mind.  Not to say that's an excuse, because CS is widely used in the West as well nowadays, and I never do my lettering in CS myself either.

To amend @CartoonMike's answer, ideally for best print quality, the line art should be a minimum of 800ppi pure monochrome bitmap (black), but better would be 1200ppi. Then put the colour work at 300ppi layered under the line art layer, with the balloons and lettering vector work on top of it all. It is also possible to work with a vector line art layer. Depends on your workflow. Of course, if your artwork has no sharp line art, and it's pure colour/digitally or traditionally scanned in painted work, it should be 300ppi.

I haven't tested yet whether Publisher supports this workflow. I have no idea if it is able to produce a correctly layered PDF file with 1200ppi line art and 300ppi colour work combined. I'll test this week, and report back here.

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If you want to do your graphic novel in traditional way, separate 1200 dpi lineart plate and separate colour layers; 

check that Publisher supports placed lineart. Formerly Affinity apps did not support lineart but converted to RGB or rich CMYK. I did a quick test which seemed to indicate placed lineart retain 100K (great!). Printing a piece out would reveal if Publisher would halftone 100K lineart or keep it fully sharp.

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