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From the book Graphic Novel Cover Design

Graphic Novel Cover Design

Illustrator as a Stand-Alone Layout Tool

Overview: Set your document’s dimensions and bleeds; make custom guides; place vector and raster art; make Area type for columns.

Print On Demand (POD), a printing technology and business process in which new copies of a book are not printed until an order has been received, is an increasingly popular print option for independent and self-publishers, particularly those who create documents intended for both print and ePub. Raymond Larrett of Puzzled Squirrel Press finds that using Illustrator allows him to easily create cover designs that integrate vector art with raster art elements, like the ones for this graphic novel. After setting up page dimensions, bleeds, and guides for text elements, the Illustrator document can be exported as a JPEG file for ePub or web comics, and as a PDF for POD publications.

  1. Setting up the page. Larrett created a new document (File> New). While in the New Document dialog, he changed the Name of the file, set the Number of Artboards to 1, chose Picas under Units, clicked the Landscape icon under Orientation, and entered the dimensions of his book cover (including front, back, and spine elements) in the Width and Height fields. He also entered his bleed measurement in the Top Bleed input field and clicked the “Make all settings the same” icon to populate the other Bleed fields with the same measurement. After entering all his settings, he clicked OK.
  2. Figure 2-24 Changing the name, setting the number of Artboards to 1, changing Units to picas, setting Orientation to landscape, entering dimensions, and entering bleed measurements

  3. Customizing your guides. To make it possible to set up guides for the back cover, spine, and front cover, Larrett chose View> Show Rulers. To create the initial guide, he first checked to make sure that guides were unlocked (View> Guides), and then click-dragged from the left-side ruler to roughly his first position. With the guide still selected, he numerically adjusted the positions of a selected guide by relocating the X (or Y) axis positions in the Transform panel. To create a rectangular guide (rather than a linear one), he could convert a selected rectangle into a guide using Command-5/Ctrl-5. With his guides in place, Larrett chose View> Guides> Lock Guides. He used the context-sensitive menu to access Lock, Hide, and Release guide functions as needed.
  4. Figure 2-25 Choosing View> Show Rulers and dragging a guide into position

    Figure 2-26 Selecting guide and numerically positioning from the Transform panel

  5. Placing and refining the elements. When the page was set with the correct dimensions, bleeds, and guides, Larrett added artwork to the design. He dragged and dropped some existing vector elements, like the barcode and logo, from other Illustrator files. Larrett’s design also contains raster artwork, which he imported into the document by choosing File> Place. Larrett then created rectangles with the Rectangle tool to define areas for columns of text. With the Area Type tool, he clicked on each of these rectangles, making it possible to type or paste text directly into the box. He then double-clicked on the Type tool from the Tools panel to open the Area Type Options dialog. Within the dialog, Larrett changed the Offset in the Inset Spacing field to inset the text from the edge of the text box. You can also use the Area Type Options dialog to change the Dimensions, Rows, Columns, and Text Flow Options. As an alternative to using the Area Type tool, you can use the Type tool to create type for titles, headlines, and other individual type elements.
  6. Figure 2-27 Placing artwork

    Figure 2-28 Creating rectangles with the Rectangle tool, using the Area Type tool, and setting Inset -Spacing

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