Hi Bruce,


Since I regularly do the layout of the page that contains my artwork in magazines, I am used to using bleed. 5% is really, really very much, or you are making a really small book. Normal is a bleed in mm. 5 mm is used, but 3 mm is more common. I am not sure how much that is in inches, though. So that is really different from what you are used to. The 5 mm doesn't have to contain real artwork, but the suggestion of it. As with a canvas, the sides aren't shown. If you are making illustrations that only cover half a spread, than you have to take in account that the bleed is normally only on 3 sides, so not the gutter edge. But that depends on how the book is made. The setter can adjust the edges of your artwork within InDesign, so be aware of that.




Mieke Roth

Scientific and technical visualizations

Mieke Roth, Msc.

Breehorn 46

8223 CN Lelystad

The Netherlands

+31 (0)320-412117

From: SciArt-L Discussion List-for Natural Science Illustration- [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Bruce Bartrug
Sent: zondag 23 mei 2010 15:45
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: [SCIART] To bleed, or not to bleed.....


......that is the question (posed herein, with a corollary question as to how to this all affects illustration composition.)

I'm working on illustrations for a most interesting book project, which has been off again/on again for couple years.  At last (!), it seems poised to be printed later this year or early next.  The format is 6 x 9 inches, and more than a few illustrations will be plates opposite a page of poetry.  I know.  It's a tall, narrow format that can present a challenge when composing an image.  I've used it before, however, and I'm certain many of you have as well.

Now comes the part about bleed.  It has been indicated that the printing will incorporate "full bleed" for the illustrations.  I'm not quite certain what that term means, and depending on your response I may need it clarified.  In the past I've composed illustrations for 5% bleed in which the page is printed 5% larger than needed and then trimmed to the page size for the book. And also the other way, leaving a tiny white margin around the outside of the page. 

In the latter situation, the typesetter was quite expert and knew exactly how to handle this situation.  The setter for the current project will not be so expert and will be using "Photoshop CS4" to set the book for print.  I'm assuming he or she means InDesign, toggling to and from Pshop to collect illustrations.

My problem is deciding how to compose the respective images if, indeed, these will be printed, say, 5% larger than needed for the page size, then cut to size before the book pages are bound.  (Or cut to size after the book is bound;  I'm not certain of the process here.)  Specifically, if only the three outer edges of the illustration are trimmed, is the remaining 5% overprint on the gutter side relegated to the gutter?  Or should the typesetter trim 5% off the gutter edge?  Let me give you an illustration.  Pun intended :).

Here's a link to an incomplete piece for this book, a houseleek, for a poem of the same title.  (A bit contrasty on the scan, Bruce.)

You'll note I've generated two sets of vertical crop marks.  This image will be on the left page, introducing the poetry piece which starts on the right page.  My thought is that if the image is printed larger and the right side buried in the gutter it will change the composition enough that I want to move the plant (the houseleek) a bit to the left.  Hence the right hand set of vertical crop marks.  Am I correct here?  And how do I indicate to the typesetter precisely what I want?

A corollary is that some illustrations will span two pages, through the gutter.  Is there anything I need to do to allow for the gutter other than indicating where that should be to the typesetter?  (Also, of course, arranging the composition to keep important information OUT of the gutter.)

I truthfully prefer a margin around the illustrations, even a narrow one, and even in so narrow a format.  A narrow black border, too, which dresses up the artwork in my humble.  This might not be possible due to printing costs, etc., but it's also easier to plan the artwork if it's printed this way.

Any help or suggestions welcome, and thank you in advance.

If you can navigate back into the Zenfolio site, check a recent addition you might enjoy, "Three Thai Artists."   If not, here's a link:


Bruce Bartrug
Nobleboro, Maine, USA
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The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.  - Albert Einstein


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