How to Use Adobe Indesign for Comic Books
By Paul Kemp
Updated September 28, 2017
Items you will need
Adobe InDesign software
Digital images of comic book cells
Adobe InDesign is one of the two most widely used desktop publishing programs in use by graphic designers and layout specialists. (The other is QuarkXPress.) The program can be used to design anything from fliers to novels and book covers. It offers an amazing array of ways to standardize and apply mass changes to a document. Once a comic artist and writer have completed their work, InDesign can help them design and lay out their volume in every detail.
Using InDesign to Lay out your Comic Book
Open InDesign and select “Document” under “Create New” in the welcome screen. Input the page size and number of pages to be in your comic. You can add or subtract pages at any time.
Select the “Layers” palette to the right of the document window and click on the “A-Master” page. These are pages where you can include elements that you will want uniform on multiple pages of the comic, or even every page. Most commonly, the master page layout is used to ensure that page numbers and chapter or document titles occur in the exact same place on every page.
Select the “Text Tool” from the tools panel at the left of the document window and drag out a text box on the part of the master pages where you would like the page numbers to be. Click “Type -> Insert Special Character -> Markers -> Current Page Number” to insert the page number for the master. Every document page will have its proper page number in that same place on the page from now on.
Add any additional text or imagery you would like to appear on every page to your master pages.
Return to the “Layers” palette and click on the first document page in the box below the master pages.
Create your image frames and text boxes with the “Frame” and “Text” tools in the tools panel. If you know the exact dimensions of each of your comic cells, you can double-click on the screen with either tool and set the frames and boxes to those exact dimensions. Otherwise, the image will only show in the dimensions you set for the frame.
Place your images and text boxes by selecting “File -> Place” for each one, and clicking in the frame you would like it to appear in. You can resize the image however you like by switching to the “Direct Selection Tool” and clicking on it, and you can fit the frame to the image by right-clicking (Ctrl+ for Mac), and selecting “Fitting -> Fit Frame to Content.” Do this for each image on the page, adjusting the size as necessary.
Place your in-cell text, if necessary, by creating new text boxes within your image frames. Use the “Character” palette to the right of the document window to alter the font, size, color, etc. of your text. If the Character palette doesn’t show up in your palettes, select “Window -> Tables & Type -> Character,” and it will appear.
Select any text frames you wish to give a background fill to, and select the “Swatches” palette. Set the toggle to “Fill” and select your color to apply it.
Save your comic book by selecting “File -> Save As” once you have completed laying it out or are at a stopping point.
You can make it easier to get uniform alignment for your comic frames by selecting “View -> Grids & Guides -> Smart Guides.” With smart guides on, InDesign will show an alignment line when your frame edges match up.
Make sure that when you are trying to adjust a placed image that you use the “Direct Selection Tool” and not the “Selection Tool,” which can cause frame/ image complications.
Paul Kemp is a writer and former political junkie. He has written copy for university publications and professional organizations. He is currently working on a book and screenplay about his time on the campaign trail during the 2008 election and teaches test prep classes.