In this tutorial I will be covering the way I've found to successfully print my artwork to scale.
I've developed this method because I have an difficulty in the past with the art getting clipped, and with the "print at 100%" options on my printer being inaccurate.
In this tutorial I'll being creating a bookmark of my character, Gelda, but you can apply it to any type of print that your printer can handle.
(I really needed a new bookmark though.)
Create your Canvas
I start out by setting the "unit" of my canvas to "in" for inches. If you use the metric system then use "cm" for centimeters.
Normally I work in pixels so I know how large my canvas is for the web, but that doesn't really matter a lot in print.
Also, you want to make sure you have 300 dpi or higher. This is set in the "resolution" of the canvas creation window.
I set mine to 350 and you can even go up to 600, but much beyond that makes little difference. 600 would be excessive given the actual size of my intended print but it would be perfect for a large poster.
Setting your resolution to 300 dpi or higher will ensure you don't lose detail or get fuzzy pixels when printing.
Now that my units are set I put in the actual size that I'd like my bookmark to be. I want my final print to be about 3x8. I like chunky bookmarks because they are sturdier and harder to lose.
I set the width and height to 4x9. I'm taking into account that I may lose up to an inch during trimming after my artwork is printed.
Set the Rulers to help you measure
Because I want to create custom trim guides, I need to measure out the distance from the edge of my canvas inward. I do this with an "inches ruler".
You can find the ruler material I used for this below. This is not an actual guide or ruler that your brushes will snap to. It's useful for measurements though!
I open my materials window and drag the ruler onto my canvas.
I have a "ruler" folder in my materials because I find I use different types quite often and it's more efficient for me to have them in one place. By default this folder doesn't exist in Clip Studio Paint, but you can easily add one by right clicking in the materials list and selecting "create new".
When I drag the ruler in, it's not to scale. If you look up at the top of the window you'll see that it says my canvas is 4x9 but my ruler shows 5 segments on the long side by default. It also does not meet up cleanly at the edges of the canvas.
To fix this I use the "operator tool" and scale the ruler up with the green handlers.
Once I have it scaled properly, I create a new layer and label each segment. This might seem entirely unnecessary, but it will help me with splitting this up later.
When creating a ruler, or counting segments, remember to start from zero or your count will be off by one.
I put the material and the number line in the a folder and name it "vertical ruler". Or I would have if I was paying closer attention. D;
Now we need the horizontal ruler. Since the vertical ruler is already finished, it's faster just to duplicate it than to create a new one from scratch.
Right click on the existing ruler and select "duplicate layer".
I rename this new folder to "horizontal ruler".
Next I transform the entire folder. I hold shift and rotate the ruler so it snaps at 90 degree angles and I end up with a perfectly straight rotation.
I drag it into place at the bottom so the zero is at the beginning. Now I have an easy visual guide for creating my trim margins.
You can actually use the build in ruler system of Clip Studio Paint for just measuring things on the horizontal and vertical axis.
For print I like to use a ruler that will actually show up on my canvas and one that I can view in print previews. You can also make diagonal measurements using this method much easier than with the built in rulers.
To prepare for drawing I change the color of both rulers to pink and blue. This way I'm not distracted while working on my sketch and I can see the margins I create next much more easily.
To do this just go over to the "layer property" window and click the "layer color" option. Make sure you have the ruler folders selected and not just the individual layers.
Create the Trim Margins
Now I want to mark off where I think I might lose some of my artwork while cutting out my bookmark.
I want to keep all of my essential elements in this area.
To give myself an inch buffer in total I measure out a half an inch from the left, right, top, and bottom.
I use a simple line tool and an almost black color to draw out my margins, using the rulers as a guide.
To keep things simple, I name this layer "edge".
I hide the rulers now that I have my margins in place.
Then I create a new layer and fill the center of my margins with the same dark color. I do this with the fill bucket and set it to "multiple layers". Then I drop the opacity of my new layer to 25%. I name this layer "work area".
Create the Art! Sketch, Ink, and Color
With my 3x7 bookmark area defined, I start sketching the artwork!
I do the sketch on a new layer, on top of the "work area" layer. I drew my character Gelda and her pet Abi. I chose these character because their style is very clean and I could easily reprint the bookmark later at a smaller size without losing a lot of detail. I like designs that scale well because of this.
It's important to keep the design simple when printing smaller items.
I think most artists using digital tools can get caught up in how much is possible to cram into the canvas and forget how readable to artwork actually is. I know I'm quite guilty of this myself.
The first bookmark I ever made had a lot of little details in the costume design. You could see them very clearly when you zoomed in. But guess what? There is no zoom on paper! This seems very obvious, but it's easy to forget.
Stay zoomed out to about the size your artwork will be printed at as much as you can. This way you don't waste a lot of time creating little bits that just disappear later.
Once your sketch is done, it's time to do the inks!
Drop the opacity of your sketch layer then create a new layer over it. I named mine "ink". Pretty straightforward.
Even though I have clearly laid out where my artwork should be, I have drawn beyond my trim margin.
This is because it's very unlikely that I'll get a perfectly straight line when cutting out my bookmark. The margin is my "room for error" here. I also don't want white edges left over along the outside of my artwork. Being able to cut into the artwork but not lose anything vital will help with all of the above.
I'm glossing over the actual creation of the artwork in this tutorial because the main focus is the printing technique. If you need help with this area, there are a lot of really great tutorials that cover sketching, inking, and coloring available on Tips!
Create another new layer, this time underneath of the inks, and color your work. All of the art creation steps will of course vary based on your personal tastes and techniques. It's perfectly fine to separate your sketch, inks, and colors out into as many layers as you are comfortable with.
Once I was done I put all of my artwork layers into a folder and named it "artwork".
I hid my margins while working on the colors so they would not interfere with the end result.
Extend your canvas to create a double sided print
I really wanted a two sided bookmark and this section will cover how I achieved this.
Note that this only works if the front and backside of your print will both fit on one page.
Of course, there are other methods to do a double sided prints. You can print twice and glue the pages together, or your printer might accommodate printing on both sides (most do).
If you only want a one sided bookmark then you can just ahead to the "print it" section.
Go to "edit" and mouse down to "change canvas size".
You might think you just want to double the size of your canvas, but that's not quite necessary. Because there is already a half an inch buffer around the artwork we only need to add the size of the bookmark. This is 3 inches in my case.
I set the width to 7.
A nice thing about clip studio is that when an object is cut off at the edge of the canvas, the object cannot be seen, but still exists.
You can see that the ruler we created earlier still has the other segments drawn and labeled. They were always there, we just couldn't see them.
Click ok to finalize the new canvas size.
Now we draw a margin just like we did before.
Actually, we can just copy and paste, or duplicate the old "edge" layer, then move it into place.
You want to give the same 1/2 inch of buffer on the right. This means you no longer have the 1/2 inch buffer for the front, and that the new margin is up against the old. That's ok because this is going to be folded on the line where the old and new margins meet.
You can do the same for the "work area" layer if you like.
Create the Art for the Back Side
Because I wasn't planning on the bookmark being double sided when I started, I didn't have the backside art planned. Give my character and her world, however, it was not too difficult to come up with a concept that played into reading.
I followed the same steps for creating the back as I did the front. I did put this side into its own folder for organization purposes though. Having the two sides separate will make printing either side on their own much easier in the future.
Prepare the Canvas for Printing
Now that the artwork is done it's time to get our canvas ready to print. A lot of printers will automatically scale the artwork up or down, depending on settings and the original canvas size.
Because I want to be sure it will print properly, I'm going to make my canvas the same size as my paper.
Go down to canvas size again.
This time change the size in inches to match your paper size. Do not change the reference point because we want the canvas to extend out from the center.
I set my size to 8.5x11 because my paper is standard letter size and that is what my printer is set up for.
Once resized, hide all of the guides. You should have a clean white border around your artwork.
In this section I'll cover basic printing in Clip Studio Paint and trouble shooting scale problems.
A good thing to do is to double check your print settings, and to get familiar with them.
You can find print settings by going to "File" and mousing down to "print settings".
There are a few setting to note for the beginner.
Always have "preview rendering result on output" checked so that you can make sure everything looks right first without wasting paper and ink.
"Actual size" for the "print size:" option is sometimes called "Same as Detail" in some versions of Clip Studio.
I have my scaling set to "for illustration" because everything is in color and my image is made with multiple layers.
For some reason I've found that pressing "execute print" does not always start the printing process. This may be my OS, or my printer, but just in case it might be worth mentioning. To print without this, just go to "File" and select "print..."
For this tutorial we can ignore the "advanced setting of color".
Let's check and see if everything will print properly. Turn on your rulers so you can see the canvas edge easily.
I left "actual size checked and previewed the print.
The last segment of the inch is clipped. This means that my 8.5x11 canvas is not scaling properly to my 8.5x11 paper for some reason. It scaled my artwork up 1/6 of an inch.
I'm honestly not sure why it does this, but this is actually the reason why I enlarged my canvas.
I canceled the print.
I go back into print settings and change "actual size" to "scale up and down according to paper" instead. I leave the rest of the settings alone.
I also double check through the advanced settings on my printer that it is indeed set to print on 8.5x11 paper.
Now I preview the print again. That fixed it!
Now everything should print at a 1:1 ratio.
Of course, I cancel the print again, and go back to my layers and hide the rulers. With all of my print settings the same, and only my artwork visible, I proceed with printing.
Beyond the Software
Here's the result of the printing! It might be a little jarring if you are not used to printing your digital work, but there is usually a pretty big difference in the colors of our displays, and our work on paper.
There are a lot of reasons for this. Monitor calibration is one. Different monitors are calibrated differently and even viewing the same work digitally between two different screens will have different colors. (printers can be calibrated in a similar way)
Digital devices also can only display colors in RGB, while printing is done in CMYK.
You can get an idea of how your colors might change by saving your file as a .tif
As a general rule .tif files only allow colors that are cmyk instead of rgb. Keep in mind, however, you are viewing the .tif on a monitor that can only display rgb. It's a little confusing but if you do a lot of print work, I highly recommend looking into print safe color palettes.
Another reason for a color difference between print and digital, and one of the biggest in my opinion, if the fact that our monitors are "illuminated" and our paper is not. This is why colors are always more vibrant on our screens. They're literally "lit" and have a light behind them.
Ok, moving onto turning the print into a bookmark!
I line the edges of my paper up and fold it in half. Then I lay it on my cutting board and use a rotary blade to trim it.
You can see some of my cuts were...not that straight. I redid the cuts a few times until I was satisfied. This is why we added that extra margin for error! If I had the major elements near the edge, like Gelda or Abi's faces, then I'd be in trouble if I cut wrong. I'd likely have to reprint several times.
If you are dealing with a printing company, you will not get this attention to detail on your prints. It is not likely they will check to see if a cut was straight or if it was too close to the main subject of your work. And you'll need to order a reprint.
So even if it seems wasteful to "color beyond the edges" of your work, it's actually the opposite. It saves you a lot of time and stress, and resources, adding that extra bit beyond what you need to have seen.
Next I laminated my folded bookmark. I was able to do this at home because I have a thermal lamination machine, but you can get this done pretty cheaply at most public libraries.
If you don't have that resource, you can always glue your front and back sides together to make it a single piece. If you do this, use cardstock if you can, because it will strengthen your bookmark a lot.
Since I laminated though, I was able to use regular printer paper.
Trim the lamination! I used scissors this time because my rotary blade is not made for plastics.
I rounded the edges so there were no shape bits that I might hurt myself on while reading.
Here's the other side!
And in use. :D
I really like my chunky bookmarks. I tend to lose smaller ones inside of my bigger books.
For the most part I tend to feel my way around things and when something doesn't work, I find an alternative way to do it, or I force it in the way I got my image to print to scale.
That's it! I hope that these techniques for printing will be useful to you.
They are applicable to much more than just bookmarks and can even be used to make key chains, charms, and glossy/matte full prints.
About the Author
My name is FalyneVarger. I have been drawing for most of my life. I started working commercially about 10 years ago and have created artwork for books, games, comics, and more non-commercial commissions than I can remember.
I'm @falynevarger in most places, but you can find me online at any of the links below!