Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Picture Book Dummy Process by Diana Ting Delosh

My picture book dummy Hard Copy process used to be very time-consuming and tedious. It involved lot's of rubber cement and took about 3 -5 hours, probably due to all that rubber cement. Than one day, I came across Meredith McKean Gimbals' blog post, Putting Together a Dummy the Smart Way. WOW! Mind blowing stuff. I just had to try her process on my next dummy. Best of all no smelly, gooey, mind altering, rubber cement was involved.

You will need Adobe InDesign and I used my local Fedex/Kinkos.  I'm using CS6 not sure what INDesign Meridith used but her instructions are different from mine. FYI: I already knew how to set up my  dummy in INDesign and make the Lo-res PDF But the hard copy dummy had me flummoxed.

1: Sketch. Paint create your dummy art per your usual way.  Scan and name your files. Example My files might be named, 1-BunnyWaves-SK.jpg or 16&17-BunnyDancing-COL.jpg, etc. Save files as 300 dpi, RGB, JPG.

2: Open up a New Document in Indesign - now the fun begins. Fill in the info. My dummy book has 32 pages. It starts on pg 1. The page size is 8 x 10".  Click on Facing pages.  Put in your margin guidelines. Input your bleed info .25". Note I only added the bleed on the top, bottom and outside. My Art spread size including bleed is 16.5 x 10.5" which centers nicely on 17 x 11 paper.

Click OK
3- PLACE your images on the pages in your INDesign Document. Go to File and select PLACE or use keyboard shortcut  Command D. Page 1 is your Dummy front cover and Page 32 is your back cover.

Note if your images look blurry, you may have to go to VIEW, go down to DISPLAY PERFORMANCE and click on High Quality Display.

Now that wasn't too bad. Right?
Open INDesign document will look like this -Only showing pages 1 -5 above.

4- Need a Lo-res PDF Dummy to E-submit to an editor or agent. In INDesign go to FILE. Select ADOBE PRESETS and select (Smallest File Size). Under PAGES select ALL and make sure you select SPREADS. Click Export. Voila! It's ready to send.

5- Sometimes only a Hard Copy Dummy will do.  Using the same INDesign document as before go to FILE select ADOBE PRESETS  select (High Quality Print). Under Pages select ALL but this time select Pages. Don't fear INDesign will cut your spreads precisely and they will come together when it's collated as a a booklet - magic.

If your document has bleeds, go on the left side and click on Marks and Bleeds
Select USE Document Bleed settings. If you don't your bleed areas will not appear in your PDF. 
I didn't, but you can even get fancy and click on Crop Marks. Now, Click Export.
6- Copy your High Quality PDF to a memory stick/flash drive and take it to your Fedex/Kinkos. Ask them to print it as a BOOKLET and to staple it. My Fedex rep asked if I wanted it to be stapled in the corner or in the middle. I wanted it stapled in the middle like a real soft cover book. They used 2 staples down the "spine". They are stapled far enough away from the edge so I can trim off my bleed.

You may also experiment with different weights of paper. For example if you're meeting with an editor you might want a heavier, pricier paper. But if you're snail mailing it and you know they will not return it, you may want to go with a lighter weight paper.

7- IF your dummy has bleeds like mine - take it home and trim off the bleed on 3 sides. Using some blue tape, a metal ruler and a razor.

You can barely see it, but I've marked where I'm cutting with a pencil. The dummy pages are blue taped together to prevent them from shifting. I use a metal ruler as my straight edge and with a razor, using multiple shallow cuts until I've cut all the way through. Repeat on the next 2 sides.  Lastly, I erase any pencil marks that weren't trimmed off, if any.  
I don't know If they have a cutter that could have trimmed off the bleed for me. When I asked about the placement of the staples because I needed to trim off my bleed. They didn't offer the additional service of cutting it. So, I assumed they didn't.

8- Need to attach your dummy to your portfolio? No  problem. I used a push pin to poke a hole about an inch from the bottom in the fold. Use a big eyed needle to attach embroidery thread/string/ribbon to your dummy.

Dummies are attached to my portfolio with ribbon.
FYI: my dummies are mainly made up of pencil sketches with 4 - 5 finished illustrations, including the cover.

Twitter: dtdelosh

For your picture book creative process
Check out: 
The BIG ThumbNailer


  1. Diana, this is an amazing post! I don't know InDesign, but I bet I have it. This looks so easy-and fun! I'm excited to try it this way! Thanks for this!

    1. Hope you do. Adobe used to offer a "graphics bundle: Photoshop, INDesign, Illustrator" back before they want to Cloud Service, where it was worth it to buy all 3 rather than just 1 program. That's how they drove Quark Xpress out of biz.

  2. Replies
    1. great to know this technical stuff isn't boring you guys to tears.

  3. Great post, Diana. Very informative!

  4. Never heard of InDesign, Diana! I do all mine in Word and put them together by hand. This looks very interesting! Passing it on for those who do have the program :)

    1. Oh, and I should've mentioned---I use double-stick tape. Clean, neat and easy. I have it down to a science!

    2. btw, they can cut the trim, I believe, probably for a minimal fee

    3. I'll have to ask next time about trimming them. Would def be a time saver.

  5. This is great Diana! I have InDesign so YaY!!