Thoughts on Test Scans (With Pictures)–Creating Manga and Comics on Createspace

I can memorize something better if I tell someone about it. I also see it as a sign that I’m meant to teach if I need to share knowledge in order to have it for myself. It’s a strange step up from writing it down, but since I’m also working with others (when they can) on drawn projects, there are a select few that I absolutely need to report my findings to if we are working on a team project. Even if it’s for fun, I still take it seriously; if saying I self-published before landed me the best jobs with Progenitor, then this is a project I can brag about too.

A few people and I are forming into what’s called a Doujinshi Circle and creating “Doujinshi”. It isn’t always porn and it isn’t always romance(if you’ve heard of it and don’t know this already)–it is the Japanese translation for something that is self-published or published through a private company while a manga is different in length, printing size, and is done so through a mainstream company.

As for doing a Japanese styled comic book in America, the word choice of doujinshi over comic book is mostly for the phrase and style. It’s cheaper and easier to do this style and to print at a smaller size. The contents of the pieces will have a lot more of American touches and styles in comedy or horror too. I can’t advertise projects we’ve hardly started, so there’s not much I can say at this time, but I will when more progress is made (a website is also in production, but we need a lot more content to attract viewers and show what we’re about first haha).

To save money, we are using regular printing paper, pilot gelpens and sharpies. It’s easier on us to do the lineart traditionally and then do all the tones and textures in photoshop/manga studio. With that in mind, we need to make sure we know how to be resourceful and functional.

I did the math and measured the dimensions to equal out to 5.2inX8.5in drawing space for the most accurate resize into an 5inX8in print. As you can see from the bottom left corner, 6mm were still cut off. It was measured with anticipation of losing those 6mm on the length and a little more on the width for the sake of clean cropping and the least distorted resize. A good 2 or so millimeters may be lost in the clean-cropping. Even so, this is not a major loss from the piece–knowing how much will be lost will allow me and the fellow artists to know where to put the contents to make sure nothing is accidentally cut out.
I’ve seen a few manga prints with the font falling off the page. I don’t know if it’s intentional or if it’s a printing error, but I personally find it distracting and it comes across as a poor or lazy print job. Knowing what will be trimmed off allows us to better visualize and respect the bleeding, trim and safe zones.

WP 001 BW

The Black and white feature isn’t perfect, but it’s easy to fix. I didn’t clean out the onyx pixels out of the pitch black ones this time (the black is just barely light or blue or purple enough to become an isolated pixel, hence the onyx versus pitch black sarcasm), mostly because this was supposed to be a quick test for the pens and sharipes to see how well they scan, register between the black&white and color scan settings and how their weight changes when printed in actual size. The quality is acceptable and it’s easy enough to clean up without being too time consuming. Doing this test first also demonstrates whether that detailed cleanup will be necessary or not.

HELPFUL TIP: Print something through a regular printer is extremely accurate to the createspace final product. The color is 99% accurate to the gloss feature, the 1% of it is not having the exact level of shine from ink versus a gross coating. Matte finish will make it about 35% lighter than what will come out of a printer, so be sure to darken the colors accordingly.

From what I saw, not only is the non-photo blue accurate to not showing when scanning black and white, but apparently a lot of my colored pencils are non-photo…

WP 001 Color

The test page itself is completely covered in the different colors, yet when I scanned it in the color setting very few showed and they appeared noisy. I was hoping to use these colors for the cover or color pages, but they didn’t show as well as I had hoped.
These are the cheapo hobby lobby brand, which may or may not explain it. I can’t afford Prismacolor and I also tend to have trouble sharpening pencils of any kind as it is, no matter how careful and gentle I am. This is also an older printer/scanner, which may also explain a little bit of it to.
However, my main concern was the pens and sharpies being scanned in the black and white setting. It’s possible that I would just need to use watercolor pencils instead.
I don’t have the money for my own scanner or to go somewhere to pay for use of a scanner, so I’m checking out what I have available around me.
This also tells me what I may or may not be able to do for submitting art to Progenitor, but I may just pay for a better scan job for a literary magazine entry or two or three.

Please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see.
I may take all my notes from doing this and format it into a guide from createspace. If I do, I’ll post about it. Let me know what questions you may have regarding this particular subject and it may end up in a printed book.


Kindle Direct Publishing is Flawed

Of course everything is flawed, especially in art of every genre and medium. However, there are some problems that can come across as intentional or are more frustrating than others as very easy fixes.

It’s not the wait that gets me. I can understand that. They won’t tell you if you need to correct something until after the 12 hours or so it takes to put it up on amazon, making the task take a few days if they don’t go into enough detail of what’s wrong and give the guidelines in a way that will help you fix it right away.
One publishing attempt took almost four because there was no set explanation on the guidelines to fix it with. I was left guessing until I got it right.
If there was a better way to check before submitting, then the process would be faster. It’s possible that it’s in the works, but I have yet to see news of it if it is.

You can’t clean your bookshelf. This is a similar problem with Lulu as well.

That bugs the heck out of me!

It’s like a poltergeist haunting me to see old work. I think it’s that way for many artists; it’s hard to look at your old work. For the KDP bookshelf, even if you unpublish it, it’s still there, like a stain on the wall you can’t paint over.

I tried painting over them, but the stain bleeds through…

I’ve tried posting other stories and redoing covers over old things I’ve unpublished to better cope, but the changes don’t set–any comment or rating or cover doesn’t go away, even if it seems like it does from one end in the right lighting.
The forums claim that it’s not only impossible to clean your bookshelf, that you have to call the heads of the amazon company to hack into itself to fix that (wouldn’t that be like having to call the owner of facebook in order to delete a status update?) and that it can take a few days or weeks to possibly fix the redone publication. However, I only saw one thread that had this happen successfully, others had to start completely over.
I was one of them where it didn’t set in.

I’ll give it one more try and check with the forums again, maybe asking the repetitive question myself.
If it doesn’t work though, I’m trying somewhere else.

It’s not so much that traditional publishing is looking better, it’s more that I don’t exactly have the resources to try it–it costs money for postage, printing manuscripts, editors and agents and I don’t have the money to gamble. If anything, I’ll just hang a picture over the stain and hope it doesn’t fall and reveal the stains.

Juust throwin’ that stuff out there…

Happily Employed

I finally got a great job about 3 weeks ago. I just got a bit more settled into it.

I won’t lie, it’s a kind of weird feeling–it’s a desk job for a doctor. I’m training to be the anti-hero in it all since I will eventually get to bill insurance companies on my own. However, the weird part is just that this is my first non-contract job, so I can probably make this a career once I get the hang of things. Having this opportunity is something I’m not used to. I’m used to worrying about the contract’s ending date and making a lasting impression if I survive to that term (even though I always do).

It’s making me re-evaluate my technical writing degree choices.

Sure, I don’t have to stay where I am. It might be best since there’s a good chance this’ll pay more than teaching. I’m going to earn enough to support myself (considering how the most I’d need beyond the usual rent/utilities is phone, internet and bus passes, that doesn’t say much).

However, I may not have as much time for school, especially if it’s not in any kind of medical field.

I don’t hav the free time to draw and write and paint like I used to, but that’s also a matter of getting that settled into a routine too. It’s all just a strange feeling to think I found a job I would be able to do for the rest of my working life before I turn 23.

Working here has a great benefit too; I know how doctor appointments work behind the scenes and I’m finding out more about how my cystectomy went wrong, but it’s telling me how I can fight my case when I choose to get a lawyer. Working with one of te top vascular surgeons gets me connected to great physicians and the ethos I’d need when handling my own problems.

I’m nervous about getting that taken care of too.

I’m now able to fix almost two years worth of neglect due to being uninsured and fixing what went wrong last time.

I do hope to find the free time to at least make small things to sell on Etsy or something. When I do, I’ll share the news. Painting a piece takes less time than writing a novel after all (although with Denise’s family moving in soon, it’s going to be tricky finding sit-down time and getting used to the change in atmosphere).

If there’s anything I can advise or share, doctor offices are great places to start an office job, even if you aren’t trained in the medical field. Believe it or not, a lot of them are hiring. I know where to refer friends who are looking and that’s just as reassuring as having the job itself.

Video Games, Novels, and Plot Structure—Great Writing Practice

Below is an example of a video game’s plot structure, specifically for games that have multiple endings.

(If there are any link issues, please feel free to let me know.)

It’s not as complicated as it looks—it could be a bit shorter to still work and have some situations link together to narrow down the possible endings. This is just my personal template for a practice game plot. Since it should be available to edit for yourself, it’s free to use and I don’t expect credit. With how chaotic the format is, it can be confusing, so don’t blame yourself if it’s not as clear as a perfectly linear plot. It would probably be a lot clearer if there was a specific story in the template instead of numbers and letters to label them, but again, a plot for a multi-ending game isn’t as easy as that of a linear novel.

This is what I mean by the plot being a family tree. It’s also why I say this is such a difficult challenge. It is possible to narrow down to two endings instead of five, however, that is completely based on the context of the plot itself. Applying it to the idea of a family tree, a game over would be one sibling not having any children with the other having two or three.
One ending may be based on whether you can save the life of a character or which wire they decide to cut. The more interactive, the more options that the player is presented with, the more endings they can get, unless some have the same result as other options.

There’s a reason why I’m taking such an interest in this. I believe one of my weakest points is deciding plot. I often have ideas of what I want to happen, but don’t know if they will work or where I could squeeze them in to make sense.
In many games, there is what is called a “good end”, which is also sometimes called “the true end”. This is the “official” ending that the game developer wants the player to get. They get it the same way they can get any of the others: making specific choices and accomplishing the specific objectives.
I have different ends in mind. I also have a “true end” in mind, once I get far enough into the plot. As certain as I can be about what the true end will look like, I still need to decide how to get there. It’s the problem many writers have of just not knowing what’s in the middle of your beginning and end. That’s not a problem. It can be fixed. How? Seeing multiple options and understanding how to get there. The beginning isn’t Point A to Point B, It’s A to Z and you need to discover and decide on B-Y.

I can’t guarantee this structure can cure the issue. However, it has helped me and it’s possible it can help someone else.

Feel free to share your results. Did laying out the different outcomes helpful? Did you learn something about the plot or your characters you didn’t expect?