Size, dimensions, colors, and styles. What does it all mean? Part 1

by Matthew Russell - Posted 3 years ago

Good day fellow vigilantes. Top of the morning to you. M. Scott Russell here to help clarify a few thing. I will be covering some basic stuff with you, so for those professionals, this will be just a review. For the rest of you, listen up, I’m giving you gold! So I have been told.

Let’s begin with talking about the different types of color and break it down from there. We will be covering a lot of ground here; including file size, file types, image resolution, converting, and how it all pertains to you as the creators.

If I miss some things don’t worry. There are entire college classes dedicated to these topics. Trust me, I know. I had to sit through many a lecture regarding them.

Part 1 color differences


Lets begin with the basics. What is RGB and CMYK? To break it down into the most simple explanation; RGB are the colors that a screen sees and CMYK is what is used for print.

You have to remember that many factors play into the difference between the two such as the fact that your computer is backlit. In fact RGB is based on light.


RGB stands for Red, Green, and Blue. With any combinations of these 3 colors you will be able to make any color that your computer screen can register. Using the 3 Primary colors we are able to create more colors than the print counterpart.

This can play havoc when creating a comic for web first. As a colorist for a webcomic, just be mindful of the differences and limitations of color. This being said, I have seen some amazing pictures printed out (especially using HDRI High-dynamic-range imaging)

So, the difference are there but for the most part they should not hamper you.


CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key. The key is basically the mixing pot or Black. Common misnomer to think that the K stands for the last letter of Black due to the fact that B was already taken.

It’s ok if you are one of the people who think it stands for Black. A majority of professionals think like this and it generally means the same thing so you won’t be wrong unless you answer the question on Jeopardy.

What does this mean to you?

It is a common mistake to assume that the colors that you see on the screen are the same colors that you will see when you print. When coloring a web comic the standard would be RGB.

This will allow you make it pop on the screen. The problem comes when you want to print it. The image will tend to look duller or even muddy at times.

An example, I was working on a school project WAY BACK WHEN. It was a business card. I was using a version of Photoshop that wasn’t even made by Adobe (Macromedia Photoshop 8, released September 13th 2005) and it looked amazing.

It had a cool gradient from midnight blue to black as a background. The lettering was silver and the logo was red. The instructor and the company loved it until I went to print it out.

The red and silver stayed the same but the background turned into a crappy purple that just got a little darker at the bottom. It was horrible. After some fast googling I was able to fix the problem before the assignment was due.

Lesson learned!

As for you, you have 4 choices; 1 print it off anyway and accept the lower quality coloring on your comic. For some, this won’t be an issue.

For others who are a little more of a perfectionist, this just won’t do.

2, recolor everything from the ground up in CMYK using your original RGB as a frame of reference. This takes a very long time. I’ve actually seen someone do this.

Took them forever but they made it exact. This is painstakingly long and difficult. Comic coloring to begin with is a very difficult and time consuming job. Why do the same picture twice for the same results.

3 Get yourself a monitor that is calibrated for CMYK. This is very expensive. I wouldn’t recommend such a drastic thing unless you are a professional publisher and are printing hundreds of thousands of comics so as to justify the cost.

4 Convert the dang thing? Yep, it can be that easy, and it only takes a matter of minutes per page.


There are a few times when printing an RGB type image comes out clean and perfect. Are you that lucky? Remember that you only convert when printing to major print houses.

Most home printers and their drivers are already set to receive RGB. If you’re printing at home, test it first by simply printing a page.

Lets begin, Oh and I can’t stress this enough. Save your work! Save your work! Save your work! Save it as blahblahblahpage1-print.psd Then make sure that you are using the correct one so that there is no risk of screwing up the original and starting all over, or worse, blowing the whole project.

You can also go to the Image menu and choose Duplicate and then name it something like CMYK version.

Do you know the greatest inventions of the last 50 years? YouTube baby! Here is a remarkable YouTube video by called Photoshop tutorial: Converting from RGB to CMYK via Multichannel. I highly recommend following these steps the video is very professional and easy to follow.

Skip it all together

Many of you are great artists. Many of you are doing this all on your own. Trust me when I say, I understand. Been there, done that!

There is a quick way around the color issue for both print and web, just skip it all together. You can achieve an amazing work of art through grayscale. This eliminates the colors and realizes on shading for contrast and depth.

This will still allow you to communicate your story beautifully and effectively. Eventually you might bring on on a colorist who can go back and color your Webcomic from the beginning, but don’t let that stop you now.

Opportunity knocks but once!

We do not have any rule that says you must submit a comic in full color or we will not take it. Don’t let color be the reason you are not submitting your comic to us right now. Let your talent be realized, black, white or in


We are looking forward to seeing both you, and your unique story soon