Consistent Cropping

Monday, May 21, 2012

Daredevil #10, Page 15. 2012. Ink(ed by Joe Rivera) on Marvel board, 11 × 17.25″.

Here's a tip for cropping pages consistently throughout every stage of the creative process. It's very minor, almost trivial, but it's a time-saver if digital compositing is part of your otherwise traditional workflow.

I draw on Marvel board, which comes with pre-printed guidelines for bleed, trim, and a copy-safe area. If you've ever aspired to be a comic book artist, then you're probably quite familiar with the pages. (As a young boy, I was pretty sure that acquiring those pages would be the key to unlocking my potential. Ha!) The point is, it's a useful format for comics and is standard practice for a reason.

But if you've ever scanned in large batches of pages, chances are good that not every page was either straight, or the right size. There are many ways to fix this in Photoshop—here's how I do it:

1. After scanning the page, I switch to my cropping tool (just press "C"), then select my tool preset, which was saved previously with the desired dimensions—4125 × 6262 pixels. (You may require different dimensions, but this is standard for Marvel. It's the equivalent of scanning the 11 × 17 art at 400 dpi).

2. Check the "perspective" box. If you select it before creating your tool preset, then you'll never have to worry about it again.

3. Drag the corners of the marquee to the corners of your image—I print a border around the image at each stage. I usually zoom in to the pixel level and drag to the outside of the crop marks. I use the "navigator" window to jump from corner to corner without zooming out. Double click or hit "return" to execute.

We leave the corners blank so the crop marks remain visible.

That's it. You're left with each and every page, perfectly cropped to the correct pixel dimensions. Now, if you need to composite digital elements, like borders, it's a seamless operation. Just remember to keep your corners visible on your art. I always leave a blank corner if the ink extends past the bleed.


  1. Good trick. Works if you don´t work on Marvel board...? ;) As every comic artist I know I´m always fighting with perspective and I find interesting that you said a post ago that you don´t use Sketchup now, with exceptions, and that you draw by eye and use grids in Photoshop (vanishing filter?). I´ll be very grateful if you would consider to do a post about it, sensei. Thanks in advance.

  2. Yep, it's in the works. It's one of the posts I've been meaning to do for years now. But it sort of needs video which is holding me back. Hopefully before the end of the year... might even offer a download of my template.

  3. Thank you, Paolo. I´ll try to avoid backgrounds until then ;)

  4. Very good tip~ I'll be sure to use it on my next big piece.


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