Tutorial: Mini-comics for Beginners (the quick and dirty method)

20 May


This primer is how to make the most simple, basic mini-comic using 81/2×11 (letter sized) paper with a separate page as a cover (2-up). I’ll be including computer and non-computer instructions. However the computer instructions will only be very vague, ie I will tell you what you need to accomplish with the program, how you do it is up to you (I will provide detailed computer instructions in future tutorials)

Materials Needed:
– Paper
– Pen, pencil, or other general writing utensil (this is required regardless as to whether or not you will be doing your final work on computer)
– Long arm stapler (a regular stapler will not be long enough to reach across the paper)
– Scissors and/or a paper cutter
– Computer (optional)
– Scanner (optional)
– Printer (optional)


1. Get your story done.

2. Do an initial page count with your story as is.

3. Increase your page count so that it is divisible by 8. For example, if you have 5 pages of story add 3 pages to that to make it 8 pages, if you have 12 pages add 4 pages to make the final count 16. I’m assuming of course that you haven’t made your story to conform to that format. Now if you have more than two blank pages you have the option of either lengthening your story or putting in filler art, whichever is easiest for you.

4. Take your pages and divide by 8. Your answer will be how many pages of 8 1/2 x 11 paper you will need for your mini-comic.

5. You will now take that many pages of paper and make what we call a dummy or a mock up of your book. Stack the pages together, then fold the pages into quarters. Remember this is a rough so it doesn’t need to be perfect.

folded dummy

Then you will number the pages as you open it like a book, the way you would be reading it, being careful not to unfold the dummy.

numbering dummy

Once you have numbered all of the pages you can open it up, where each number falls, including it’s orientation is how each page needs to be laid out for your final production.

other side of layout

6. This is where we break off into those who are doing this traditionally and those who are on the computer.

a) For those who are doing it traditionally take the same amount of paper as you did for the dummy and fold them again into quarters, this will be your good copy so fold each paper separately and make sure your folds are crisp and even, then follow your dummy for numbering and put each page down accordingly.

b) For those on a computer you will need to open a multi-paged document for where you are going to place your images in. (I prefer to use Adobe Indesign as it’s basic function is page layout and design) Because of the finished size we are using, you will want to have your document set to letter (8.5 x 11 inches) and make sure your margins are set to zero.

7. Next you’ll layout your comic

a) For those working traditionally, you will draw your comic as you would normally but make sure that everything is oriented the correct way, some will be upside down. Follow the orientations from your dummy copy.

b) For those on a computer, if you are working with an image program, place guidelines down the centre running horizontally and vertically. Then you will place your images into your document as they correspond to your mock up.

setting up guidelines

showing where to find place in indesign

showing orientation of images

8. Now using the same dimensions you’ll do your cover on a separate piece of paper. (For simplicity’s sake you’ll have two copies of the cover on this page)

a) For those working traditionally, take a piece of paper and fold it the same way you did for your comic layout. The only difference will be that when you unfold it you can simply do the two copies of the cover facing up, whatever is easiest really.

b) For those on computer follow the directions for laying out the comic, only this time it will be for your cover. The easiest way to do this is to design your cover and then copy and paste the second copy below it.

cover copying

9. Once you have your layout complete you will need to print it out. For this tutorial we will be outputting to photocopier when working traditionally. The computer user will have a few more options for output.

a) For those working traditionally, you will place your originals in the photocopier so that they back each other up as they do in the mock up.

b) For those working on computer, you have a choice. You can output to your printer and do the full run on your home printer, be warned however, this can be extremely time and ink consuming. Or you can print out one copy of your file on your printer, then take it to a copy shop and photocopy it there. Finally, you can export your file to pdf (if it is an Indesign file) and print it out at your local copy centre.

showing where to export to pdf

exporting to pdf

10. As soon as everything has been printed out you will want to cut your pages to size. If you have a paper cutter you will want to line up your paper and cut where needed. If you only have scissors, then it is best that you score (fold) the line you want to cut in order to ensure an accurate line. Then cut as needed.

Preparing to cut

cutting pages

11. Once you have everything cut out organize everything into piles (collate). It’s best to put the pages into a logical order such as lining the pages up starting with the cover and going left to right, the important thing is that it is comfortable for you as you want to be able to move quickly.

collating piles

12. After you have created your piles you will then collect them into your books, making sure your pages are all in order.

collating pages

13. Next you will adjust your long arm stapler to fit the page. The easiest way to do this is to take one of the mini comics and fold it then gently press on the stapler to see where the staple will hit but not actually stapling the paper, this might take a little time until you get used to setting your stapler up, but it gets easier. If you do not have a long arm stapler you will need to take them in to your nearest photo copy/print shop to have them saddle stich the book for you as a regular stapler will not reach across the page.

long arm stapler

14. For the next step you can do this in either order. If you are new to book binding, then you may feel more comfortable folding your comics first and then stapling them, if you are more comfortable you can simply staple your books and then fold them afterwards.

stapling the book

folding the mini

And now you are done your first mini-comic!

finished book

Stay tuned for more detailed and advanced mini-comic creating.


One Response to “Tutorial: Mini-comics for Beginners (the quick and dirty method)”

  1. Color Printing Machines Singapore July 14, 2012 at 5:47 am #

    School sometimes use it when producing activities or letters. If they want to make a good impression, they send out colored copies of their documents and not the mere greyscale types. But no matter which of the two we choose, it still produces the same document because that it is really what it was made for.

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