Web-Comic size dimensions?

Hey folks! So recently I made a short web comic, and the size I made it was (8.5 x 11). And while I didn’t care what size that comic was, I question what dimensions I should make my future web comics? As (8.5 x 11) is not a standard comic size, at least not for the U.S.

I also wonder if dimensions really matter anymore? I’ve seen comics in all shapes and sizes. And maybe I should just work with what I’m most comfortable with. But I guess I want to just make sure my comics are printable as books in the future. So I’m interested in what everyone else thinks, especially if you make comics yourself.

The size depends on the publisher. If you are your own publisher, then the size can be decided by the factors like your printers preference and your budget or the size won’t matter if you are going for web publishing.

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This might be of some use, if you are considering eventually getting things printed: https://support.comixology.com/customer/portal/articles/1179117-what-does-it-mean-when-i-ve-been-rejected-for-inconsistent-page-sizes-

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Thanks @raghukamath, I no doubt will be my own publisher, so I guess it really is just dependent on me and my choice. And even though I would love to have my work printed, I doubt I will ever actually get around to it unless the comic became actually popular. :sweat_smile:

@Uradamus Thanks for the link, that’s some useful information. That page reminded me as well that I shouldn’t need to work at such a large pixel size. My last comic was made at (5100 x 6600) which I realize now was probably way overkill.

It’s pretty common to work at twice the dimensions you need for printing, but ya, those dimensions you were using were probably overkill, heh.

I’ve done some research in the last years because I was thinking about doing a web-comic too. I asked people who are already publishing for advice and also looked at many web-comics out there how they are doing it. First I found there are basically two types of comics. Web-comics and “web published comics”.

Web published comics

These are comics that happen to be readable on the web but are not designed for it. They follow the usual rules of printed comics when it comes to aspect ratio and size because they are designed with printing as priority.

So, if getting your stuff printed is your main priority, then go with whatever the standard is in your country or your print service provider can deliver (or your publisher recommends). Later you can decide how to present it online.

Web-Comics

Web-Comics have become a very different experience than the normal printed one. They often use the features of the web and the fact that you have a page with infinite length (the screen) to aid in storytelling or dramaturgy.

Take this xkcd comic for example. It is one very long panel. As you scroll down you find new things that were outside the screen before and you can explore the scene. Hiding things outside of the screen for dramatic effects is very common. The printed equivalent is to build some tension but for the relief you have to flip the page, so you don’t get accidentally spoiled when your eyes scan ahead. Sometimes the infinite panels is used to show progress over time. As you scroll down new things enter the screens while others leave, breaking the very idea of a panel as the screen itself becomes your panel.

I’ve seen a lot of web comics that add a few empty rows between panels to get that effect, or they use hidden panels like in this one from Mr. Lovenstein. Go on and move your mouse over empty space at the bottom.
Some web-comics even use web features for interactive storytelling like this exocomic.

Since the web is very loose when it comes to formats you can basically go as wild as you want but I noticed there are some unwritten rules like “rather long than wide”. Scrolling up/down feels natural. Scrolling sideways not and feels unintuitive, at least on a desktop. Therefore most web comics tend to get longer than wide. Often not more than two panel columns. I noticed the width did increase for a while as widescreens became more common, so you can fit more columns on a screen but now with mobile devices being common and most people use them in vertical orientation, columns have become lesser again to make it more readable on mobile devices, even having just a single column like an old school comic strip but in vertical. Image resolutions are usually multiples/fractions of common screen resolutions to make the page perfectly fit the screen when viewed in full screen mode.

Conclusion

So if you plan to do a web-comic that is primarily web-focused you basically enter a new world of comic making with a lot of possibilities. However as you go deeper into the rabbit hole, the harder it will get to print your stuff.

The craziest I’ve seen was that every panel was a single image and they rearranged depending on the available space so it was single column on a mobile device in vertical mode, two columns in horizontal and a lot of columns on a desktop. Unfortunately I can’t remember which comic it was so I can’t link this one.

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Fantastic write up Takiro! I definitely realize their is some great potential making a comic without the print in mind. I’ve seen people add animations for certain panels and effects to make the experience more interesting/exciting. I’ve also seen horror comics make use of html and java script code on their website to really enhance the experience. :scream:

And I think it is important to make use of the unique experience that reading from the web or device gives us. And I think we should keep in mind whenever possible to make the experience reading digitally as easy and comfortable as possible and less of a choir. Which is why it’s important to create a good website for your comic or find a host that fits with your comic.

Sadly, I’m still undecided on size. The standard comic dimensions are a little thin for my liking, (then again, I guess that would be good for mobile.) Maybe I should just scroll around and look at other web comics that I know have published books and see what sizes they use.

What I did was drawing a few test pages with different column, row or panel counts and sizes and aspect ratios, trying out some different styles like working without panel borders (so panel contents can overlap each other), sometimes even drawing the same comic in different ways. I didn’t publish most of the experiments so I can’t link to them and although I’m still not sure how I want my comics to look and work I already have a pretty good idea about what I don’t want x3. I also found that some drawing styles go better with some layouts and panels styles than others. What’s also kinda important is, if your comic is a collection of unconnected shorts or strips or a coherent story spanning multiple pages (speaking in paper terms). I’m by no means a pro, but I’d advice doing the same. Just experiment a bit.

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My comic will be longer stories spanning multiple pages, so it’s less of a comic strip. And I get what you mean with how page layouts can change things, for instance, if I make a comic with white borders, I could extend or contract the white borders for print to fit it to a different dimension. But if the comic art is drawn straight to the edge, their is no way to change the dimensions it would be printed on. An example would be the short comic I just made. (I’ll do a topic post on it shortly) The art goes straight to the edge, no way to print it any other way than it’s exact size (8.5x11). Well, I could still print it bigger or smaller, but it would have to be the same dimensions.

Anyway, their’s plenty to think about and consider still. :sweat_smile:

It can be done when you make the original bigger and keep the important stuff in the center so you can crop it into different formats. I tried this too but decided it isn’t for me since it looked weird when there is so much background with nothingness around the characters, and when cropped you basically throw away so much work you did into the bin, since you crop away background you still had to draw. It felt like doing too much work for nothing. However I still do this sometimes for works I want to use as wallpaper.

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True, but cropping for me is never a good answer, as you said, I’d feel like to much would be lost from the original work, at least when it comes to the print.

But thanks! Your contribution to this conversation and my thought process was a very helpful!

I think it’s useful to conceive of both formats as completely different media, actually - in the same way that animation is not film. They accomplish different things (well, they’re supposed to at least, though there’s always going to be people that want to cross-pollinate a ton), they accomplish them in different ways, and most importantly, a screen is not paper. And at a certain point, interactivity starts to resemble gamification, as well.

One of the more popular digital formats is, yes, incorporating animation. There’s a few ways to do it, but the primary ones are turning a comic into an animatic, essentially; that is, animating page elements to create a visual effect and carry the reader through the story. The other way is the “guided” format, which was initially cooked up as a way to translate print-size and print-ratio comic pages to smartphone and tablet screens. So you’d swipe through panels or groupings of panels to just make reading easier. Sometimes they get fancy and word balloons or sound FX would appear separately from the art. There’s really a lot of ways to do it, almost too many now - the important thing is to have a clear idea in mind when starting, otherwise you’ll be paying for it later!

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I agree that it is important to keep in mind that the experience of a comic on the web/digitally is different from reading it in print, and changes are needed sometimes to make the comic more screen friendly.

I’m pretty sure I’m sticking to simple web comics though, I’m not going to go crazy with animations and stuff of that nature. The reason I wanted to do web comics in the first place is so I could produce my stories in a simpler and faster way than if I made them as short animated films (What I really wanted to make). That said, animatics and motion comics are a very unique medium that I feel aren’t utilized enough. They blend comics and animation in a way that is, well, cheaper to produce, than an actual animation.

At the end of the day I’ve come to the conclusion that the dimensions of my comics really won’t matter to much. I’m still making these comics in a page by page way, so it’ll be printable as a book no matter what really. But, none the less, the comics are being made to be enjoyed by people online first and foremost, and print would just be a far off, in the future possibility.