1.  
    Over on the Forge, I've started a diary of my lead up to print. I'm going to be using the advice that I've found on this forum to guide me through the process. Soooo, that leads me to me next question. Would you guys mind helping me out from time to time? I keep having these niggly questions.

    For example, has anyone printed matte-finish covers with Fiddlar-Doubleday? Or Lulu? Gregor, I've seen your matte finish on Best Friends, but I can't tell how dark colours will look. If I'm printing something with a lot of black and dark red, would that come out okay in matte?

    Vague question, I know. Basically, is there something I don't know about using matte finish on the cover of a book? Is there a reason why very few of the indie books use matte?
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2010
     
    We experimented with matte covers a few years back with a few CGS releases. The results, quite frankly, were rather disappointing. The cover images seemed a bit washed and they marked quite easily. In short, the books straight out of the box looked old and tired. So for vibrancy and durability I'd go with gloss.
  2.  
    Sold!

    Thanks Paul. Next question, how do I get a vibrant red with CMYK? Do I have to use a spot colour? If so, how does that work? Is the Hot War cover a CMYK image?

    Also, why should I/shouldn't I get a barcode?
    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeApr 12th 2010 edited
     
    Yeah the Hot War cover is CMYK. As a rule you'll find that most printers use the CMYK colour space as it gives a more accurate print than RGB. What I usually do is work in RGB and convert the final cover image to CMYK in Photoshop. That's probably the easiest way to get a vibrant red if you are having problems working in CYMK.

    A barcode is entirely up to you, but you will probably need one if you plan on putting your product into shops. To generate the barcode you will need and ISBN number though, which you will need to buy. You can get a block of 10 here
    But, to be honest, it's not a legal requirement as it's only a way of identifying books, mainly for stock control purposes.
  3.  
    That looks a bit costly. Anyone know if IPR Retail requires a barcode?
  4.  
    Sebastian Hickey:That looks a bit costly. Anyone know if IPR Retail requires a barcode?


    As far as I am aware, no. As long as your book has a unique stock code (or 'SKU)', you should be fine. Something like CWG-001, or COB-001. Something like that. Try to use a three letter code that nobody else is using.

    Edit: The above answer (regarding IPR and ISBNs) is corrected by Gregor in his lengthy post below.


    Actually, you know what would be handy? An online database of game company SKUs so that more than two don't use the same one.

    Cheers
    Malc
  5.  
    Ooooh, a stock code. Shit, I would never have thought of that one. Thanks for the heads up Malcolm.
  6.  
    Would you consider posting the diaries up here too, or at least link to them? I know some people read here that don't always read the Forge (I always forget, for example), so it might provide a useful insight into the process.
  7.  
    Yes, of course. I've edited the starter post to include a link.
  8.  
    New question: I've been thinking of using an off-white text stock for printing. Just like the matte question above, is there a reason why so many of the publishers use Hi-Bright? Isn't it more natural to read from a lower contrast page?
  9.  
    Oh, I have some answers to these!

    ...printed matte-finish covers with Fiddlar-Doubleday?
    Yes, they printed the Best Friends copy you have with the matt finish. It really works well for that white and pink (M: 50%) cover. An almost candy frosted pink, really.

    Or Lulu?
    I don't think Lulu do Matt finish, they just do Gloss.

    If I'm printing something with a lot of black and dark red, would that come out okay in matte?
    I'm thinking the answer is "OK, but not great". Cold City was in Matt and it looked restrained and "flat", Burning Wheel had a matt finish and I thought it looked classy with the red and brown, but again it didn't "pop". Hot War is black/red and really bursts because of the gloss finish.

    how do I get a vibrant red with CMYK? Do I have to use a spot colour? If so, how does that work? Is the Hot War cover a CMYK image?
    I would only use a spot colour if I was doing "one colour + black printing" or a fancy spot colour like Gold. Otherwise you'll be doing 5-colour printing (CMYK + the spot colour), which is more expensive for essentially a 4-colour look. (Spot Colours work best when they are "unusual", e.g. gold, silver, or are needed to ensure a common brand colour across many issues/printings.) Also, I think Lulu will just do 4-colour. It's not worth you paying more for a spot.

    Vibrant Red? Checking my Pantone/CMYK swatch book... I think the following reds are quite bright/vibrant (noting that RGB is by definition "brighter" than CMYK but that you can only print in CMYK not RGB)... C0 M96 Y90 K2, C2 M98 Y85 K2, C0 M94 Y78 K0, C0 M100 Y69 K0. Try looking at those shades. A solid Red like Pantone 200C is C3 M100 Y66 K12.

    That looks a bit costly. Anyone know if IPR Retail requires a barcode?
    I think IPR do require one, but they can supply an ISBN to you if you need one. My recollection is that IPR previously didn't but would now prefer a barcode for books going to retail. Brannan will be able to advise.

    I've been thinking of using an off-white text stock for printing. Just like the matte question above, is there a reason why so many of the publishers use Hi-Bright? Isn't it more natural to read from a lower contrast page?
    Generally we use what the printer provides. David found that the copies of Solipist printed on a "creamier" paper were more to his liking than the "bright" paper on the Fidlar run, but that was a minor personal preference. The journals I work on in real-life are mostly on a bright white and are highly readable. Funnily enough you might find that "poorer" quality paper costs more as the printer isn't using it massive amounts. At one point I was interested in printing 3:16 on quite rough (original WFRP-style) paper but the printer would have had to get a special order in. By the time (years later) I had finished the game I just went with the default paper recommended by Kory at Fidlar.
  10.  
    Gregor Hutton:
    That looks a bit costly. Anyone know if IPR Retail requires a barcode?
    I think IPR do require one, but they can supply an ISBN to you if you need one. My recollection is that IPR previously didn't but would now prefer a barcode for books going to retail. Brennan will be able to advise.


    Ah, there you go. I should edit my previous post so future readers don't get that far and think "No ISBN needed!". As Gregor says, Brennan will be best able to advise. This is also a nugget of information that I really should squirrel away and remember for the future.

    Cheers
    Malc
  11.  
    Thanks Gregor and Malcolm.

    I'm waiting on Brennan Taylor to come back to me on my teaser PDF. Until then, I don't want to hassle him with questions about ISBN/bar-codes.

    I've got in touch with Anthony Rowe and Fidlar-Doubleday. I tried looking around for some other printers, but the prices I was getting for local short run prints was extortionate (€10 per copy). You can check the Forge thread for the details on the good quotes.

    Also, Malcolm, Kory told me to tell you "Hey!"
  12.  
    I need help with colour. I've uploaded a CMYK jpeg (embedded with the US Web Coated (SWOP) v2 colour profile). Anyone who's worked with colour before, could you check it to tell me how the blacks/reds are going to look on the front part? They look a bit washy to me. Will that print okay? If not, any advice to punch it up?

    Here's what it looked like using the Euroscale Coated v2 CMYK colour profile. If only it were just a case of forcing colour profiles, eh?

    Sebastian.
  13.  
    I got nothing really to help with, but I love the cover - especially the tag line.
  14.  
    The barcode looks familiar.

    I'm not sure if the red could have more yellow in it to make it more "fiery" to stand out against the black? On the other hand, I think it's fine as a cover.

    I ike the milking of the Banned on RPG.net stuff. I don't think they'll have a sense of humour over it, and that's fine.
  15.  
    I'll try to insert some yellow. Thanks Gregor.
  16.  
    No problem, it might be that trying to make it more fiery makes it too orange or dulls it further.

    The good news is that you know the colour profile Fidlar-Doubleday will use so you can match your expectation of colour better.

    Have you thought aboout having the text on the spine smaller and in capitals? Maybe drop the "by" from the spine too?

    HELL FOR LEATHER . . . . . SEBASTIAN HICKEY . . . . . COWEB GAMES . . . CWG1

    For the back cover you might want to add "number of pages" to your data block.
  17.  
    Okay, I'll do that. Thanks Gregor.
  18.  
    Okay, I've done some hue tests. Maybe you could help me pick the right one.
  19.  
    I like the bottom left one most. But which one do you prefer?
  20.  
    Not sure. My feedback group all say top right.

    At the moment I'm so worried about my colour space. Every piece of software I open the image in makes it look different, even though I've embedded the colour profile. I open it in Photoshop and looks okay. I open it in Firefox and it looks great. I open it in Windows Image Viewer and it looks terrible. How do I know what it will look like in print? Or even if what you're looking at is right? Shouldn't it be the case that when I embed an ICC in an image and open it with a piece of software that understands colour profiles that it looks the same as it did in the originating software?

    I'm tearing out my proverbial hair with frustration.
  21.  
    Unless you have a professionally colour-calibrated monitor and the correct software you will have no idea what the colour should exactly look like. Even then it will appear slightly different in print depending on the whiteness of the card stock, the process of printing and the effect of the laminate (which is why they have all these profiles that show coated or uncoated, etc.).

    I think worrying about Colour Space is un-necesarry stress. I mean, it's bullshit really.

    My opinion about colour profiles is that you should _not_ embed them in images. Know what colour profile your printer uses to form a guide and then have a fairly relaxed attitude to the exact colour.

    The colour will even vary from print run to print run (in hopefully only minor ways). You'll know the final exact colour when you have the book in your hands.

    3:16 is darker on its original printing, yellower on the direct edition and greener and lighter on the Cubicle 7 printing. All from the same original source file.

    But they all look the same unless laid side-by-side and you're looking for a difference.

    Top-right looks OK to me. I think it's more "orangey" than the bottom left, but I'm looking at it in Microsoft Office Picture Manager on a Dell-box with no colour management and an LCD monitor.

    If you are totally nerved about it then the printer can send you a printed proof. I believe Paul has had that from Fidlar-Doubleday on Cold City and Hot War.

    If you're also going with Lulu you could order a single copy. I've found Lulu printings in the same ball-park as Fidlar printings (but not exactly the same).
  22.  
    What Gregor days about colours changing from printing to printing is true - I discovered after about 2 years that my American copies were much brighter than my locally printed ones.
  23.  
    Thanks for the feedback. I'm not so much concerned about how the colours will migrate during printing (anymore), I'm (newly) concerned with how the blacks come out. Since yesterday I've done some more research and I've come to understand the process thus:

    The problem with handing someone an image without a colour profile is that their software will convert it to their colour profile without any input from you (or me), the artist. That is, if I send a CMYK image with Euroscale and they convert it to their colour space (which they have to to support their RIP), I don't know if they're using a direct colormetric conversion or some other algorithm. Furthermore, I don't know how they convert their blacks.

    That's what the research says.

    Now, as much as I like understanding the why of things, I trust your experience more. In this way I'm relieved to hear that this is something you must live with. That's helped me to understand that I don't have to worry about the colour as much as I have to worry about contrast. So, in the next iteration of the image, I'm going to be looking at ways to deepen the greyscale contrast to give a more pleasing result. If that looks okay in the correct colour space, I should get a nice result no matter how red the cover turns out to be.

    That's the lesson I've learned. Contrast is more important than colour. Also, interestingly, and this is something that I found out recently too, concept artists are very much concerned with this approach to design. They often (and repeatedly) view their brightly coloured image in greyscale to make sure it still looks punchy without colour. Had I been a concept artist and not an amateur I could have saved myself a lot of headaches.

    Thanks for your help guys.
  24.  
    I think I've fixed it now.

    In other news, Brennan Taylor got in touch and I'm good to go with IPR. Dream come true.
  25.  
    I think IPR do require one, but they can supply an ISBN to you if you need one. My recollection is that IPR previously didn't but would now prefer a barcode for books going to retail. Brannan will be able to advise.


    Good news. IPR sell ISBNs for $10.

    They do not require an ISBN but encourage one.