Bit by bit, I’m regaining time to work on a digital comic. I was sad to see that DC closed Zuda, which I thought was good exposure for creators and their digital comics. [However, parts of Zuda live on with Comixology, an application for downloading and reading comics, including DC and, supposedly, some of the Zuda comics.]
That said, I’ve struggled finding how to set up digital comics. If you visit any number of online comics, such as those at webcomics nation, you’ll see many creators using print layout for the web. Indeed, it’s hard to leave behind that format. To open yourself to other formats and layouts for the web is almost intimidating. For example, you can go so far as to use Flash or HTML5 to design interesting interactions, such as Never Mind the Bullets.
For me, while that kind of design is very appealing, I’m just trying to finish one comic. So, I decided to stay with a static digital format. The problem is that I wasn’t sure how I would deliver–as a mobile comic? as a CBR file? as a web comic? If you search for recommendations, you see a lot of references to monitor resolutions, not for mobile devices.
Fortunately, I found layout information at Robot Comics, the creator of Droid Comic Viewer, which is available for Android phones and iPhones. Using Manga Studio 4, I created a template that is 5 times the size of Robot Comics’ recommended 480 x 320 dimensions–2400 x 1600. If I decided to publish it as a web comic, I can export the comic to a more appropriate resolution, such as 960 x 640 or 1200 x 800. I set the DPI at 300, in case I wanted to print it. I ended up creating a template with the following settings:
Take the settings for what they’re worth. I’ve tested them, and they seem to work well when I export them to 72 or 96 DPI and 480 x 320. [It's a little small on my Nexus One which supports 800x400, but the Droid Viewer allows you to easily zoom in.]
One thing that I searched for but found almost nothing was how to size the fonts. Downsizing the comic to 1/5 could mean that certain fonts might not scale well or be very readable for both the web and as a mobile comic. Blambot offers a lot of nice free fonts, so I grabbed a few and decided to test with WebLetterer. Exporting to the 320 x 480 resolution, I found that 9 point font was readable. 8 point pushed readability, and I thought 7 point was unusable. Mind you, I have middle aged eyes, but even with reading glasses, the 7 point font was too small to read easily. However, when I zoomed in to a larger resolution for my phone, the 8 point was very good and 7 point font was still readable though with more effort. I double-checked this by exporting to 600 x 400 and still found 7 point on the small side.
So, 9 point seems safe, although it seems large. In the end, I’ll keep my text on separate layers so that I can resize them as needed, but I’ve decided to go with 8-point. However, if I choose a different font, I should test the sizes again.
If you want to create a comic for the Droid Comic Viewer, check out this information about creating the zip and XML files.
I might still run into problems, but I think I’ve done my research and come up with a layout that is flexible but still aimed at digital distribution. [However, ereaders such as the Kindle and Sony have different requirements, which Robot Comics has discussed. For now, I'm not going to worry as I doubt that I'll go that route, especially since the Kindle uses the 4:3 screen ratio.]
Of course, now’s the tough part–actually working on my project.