Game Designer Workshop Episode 15: Prepress


Synopsis: After the text is written and the art is drawn, the book still needs to be prepared for printing. Guess what? It’s not exactly an easy process to master. Caleb has valiantly thrown himself into it though and we can all learn from his struggles. Learn about covers, book binding, paper weight, and everything else you always wanted to know about book printing but were afraid to ask.

Song: When the Livin’ Ain’t Easy by Somewhere Off Jazz Street

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  1. This is pretty fascinating listening for someone who’s never been involved with the printing/publishing industry. Thank you for sharing your pain and hard-earned lessons with us!

  2. I also agree with Scribble. That was more information then I needed to know about publishing a book. After all this work Caleb I suspect you will take a well deserved vacation I heard that Hell is cooler and less stressful then publishing a book.

  3. Huh, thought I’d commented here earlier, well lemme try again.

    First: You have my sympathy Caleb, “It’s FINALLY DONE! …except for this, this, this, this, this and this.” perfectly describes the phase between awarding a contract and issuing spec’s & drawings for construction on every new building project I’ve been involved in.

    Second: A “nitpicking & pixelbitching” anecdote of my own: While reviewing shop drawings today, I had to look up the thickness of a toilet seat on a washroom accessories manufacturer’s website, to find out if the sub-contractor’s choice of toilet & seat would comply with building code universal accessibility requirements. Whee.

  4. I think most projects get into this kind of nit-picking if you want to do the job properly. I’m just very glad that you’re going through the effort, Caleb – I have more than a few RPG books and pdfs where the layout and design are terrible and it makes a big difference.

  5. Thanks for all the hard work Caleb. Here’s to Red Markets! I hope we have not seen the last of it on RPPR, the two campaigns have been truly great.

  6. Listening to this made me pretty glad I’ve only had to handle submitting articles a few pages long, and even with that I had to learn a ton about DPI, compression, and the like.

    Pre-press seems like such a massive undertaking and I learned about many aspects that would never have occurred to me from this episode. The “Page XX” thing is such a perfect example of a problem that seems obvious in hindsight but is very difficult to anticipate when you just want to be writing.

    Game Designer’s Workshop has helped me appreciate just how much work goes into each RPG book – how many people agonized and worked on the writing, layout, art, printing for the finished product. Doing a kickstarted, massive book like Red Markets just amplifies those challenges – but the result is truly impressive.

  7. Having been doing this for many of the jobs I’ve had (except that last step into printing hell of paper weights/types & print runs which fell on my boss) it has a lot of nightmare steps to it that you might not initially think of. Why this episode is so helpful for the people doing more than just printing out their games in word documents.

    With the real estate magazines I worked on with one job there would be a small stockpile of 1/4, 1/2 & full page filler ads kept on the server that we could use if needed. This way when the body + table of contents + index were fixed & needing to space things out to hit that magic divisible by 4 number on the page count for the printer, we had something to throw in there without having to then go after approvals.

    So for people working on your game book & listening to this episode if there’s some common items like character sheets of different styles/formats or pregen characters or alternate art or blank maps (and it won’t break the table of contents or other pages when you put that text in explaining those additions). Maybe keep some of those handy when working on a book to put those in at the end and avoid having to cut whole pages out to get it down to a page count of 4 or 16 or whatever. This might not help all the time though it might be helpful to have some simple things to insert near the back which is better than having to rerun the whole book again or redoing whole chunks of the early book.

    Agreed 100% with Caleb’s point on talking with the printers about getting things all working right for sending the files to them. Getting it right then will make all the future work easier with future books when you have a lot of the final steps streamlined when handing it over to the printer.

    Congratulations Caleb & Red Markets crew for all the hard work on this project!

  8. I don’t believe that in 2017 you still have to fix every “Page XX” manually. That’s just bullshit. A quick googling reveals an official Adobe InDesign article “Cross-references” with elaborate explanations on how to make proper page references. Same thing with manually built indexes.

    I’m also pretty sure TeX/LaTeX had cross-references figured out in the 80s but I’m not sure it’s useful for RPG books.

  9. Author

    Yeah but that requires setting up properly inside Indesign. The raw text of a RPG is not written in Indesign, but programs like Word or Scrivener and then copied or imported into Indesign.

  10. As an ex-prepress worker, to all game designers out there:

    – non-vector artists do not work in CMYK (perhaps a few do. It would imposes specific technical constraints)
    – normally and ideally, your artists should not convert their work to CMYK, that’s prepress end work since the conversion is done during the export in your layout/ prepress program, like Indesign using the Adobe preset like SheetCMYK_1v4 for Europe (GWG). It’s different for other regions/printers. This is the only way to assure correct conversion for the paper type used, coverage of ink (300% or more), …

  11. Just a note on my previous comment, conversion in photoshop after the illustration work is done, is ok (it uses the same engine as Indesign), but you should tell your illustrator your prepress specifics (SheetCMYK_1v4 for Europe, SWOP, ……) ie, you should know where you want to print your book to comply with the type of CMYK output: the conversion preset (whether in Ps or Id) should match your ultimate printing process

    I’m not sure on this but multiple successive CMYK outputs should be avoided to avoid quality loss? I know RGB to CMYK to RGB does result in loss.

    Just commenting here because I want to avoid that clients will think illustrators are going to work in CMYK now, or without knowing that for photoshop CMYK export of their work, the preset type should be known and info on this provided by the client.

  12. Former graphic designer here. For those that don’t know – and I happen to think this is really cool – print uses CMYK instead of RGB because light and ink make colours in opposite ways. Light ie computer monitors are additive, ink/physical pigments are subtractive. The reason has to do with physics; if you add light together the wavelengths overlap, but if you add pigments together they cancel out because ink that is “red” is actually ink that absorbs every wavelength except red.

    Thus, Cyan Magenta and Yellow are the inverse of Red Green Blue, and Black is of course the inverse of White.

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