Posted by: Kathy Temean | September 18, 2018

ASK CAT – Dummy Printing Ideas

On the third Tuesday Christina or Christy Ewers Tugeau of the Cat Agency will answer questions and talk about things illustrators need to know to further their career. It could be a question about an illustration you are working on, too. Please email your questions to me and put ASK CAT in the subject box.


We got a great question about how to print dummy books for working with and presenting, and I didn’t feel I had the updated answer!!  It happens! LOL! So I went to the experts….the artists in our CAT Agency group. Phenomenal group of talents…. and so helpful!

I will start by just saying that having a dummy book to present at conferences and publishing visits is immensely helpful to buyers.  Even if they don’t ‘go’ for your story itself, they can SEE how you ‘think’ a story, which gives them much more confidence in what they can expect from you WHEN they hire you.  I’ve often said (and one of the artists Lisa Fields reminded me) that you can do these dummies in any number of ways.  What’s important is that it looks ’nice’ and clean and shows what you want it to show.  (and probably that it doesn’t fall apart in their hands!)  We encourage doing them about true to actual size for your own viewing and because, as Priscilla Burris reminded me, she’d once had done it half size and the publisher we’d presented to thought it was for a board book instead of a picture book! “Lesson learned” Priscilla shared.  😉

Lisa and others mentioned both BLURB and as great outsources for this need.

Apparently InDesign is a great program for doing them yourself and there is a BLURB plug in you can install which helps the set up with all bleeds etc.  too.  She thinks doing a book with Blurb was about $45 but she might have had a coupon!  (always good to look for…and sales!)  Prestophoto was about $15 to get book printed she said and she was “surprised how good it turned out!”  The color on cover was too saturated, but the interior was great.  Both allowed her to clearly preview the book on their sites before she purchased it so no surprise with weird cut offs in layouts etc. when she got it in the mail.  “I did make multiple adjustments after looking at the preview to fix mistakes on both sites.”

Christine Kornacki says she uses InDesign also to design the book and then used ‘magazine option’ for printing in BLURB.  8.5 x 11 print size and then she cuts down with ruler and exacto if need be.

Priscilla Burris prints out herself or at a local printer (Fedex/Kinkos now) and trims to what she envisions for the imagined picture book size might be. Then she uses matte clear tape and connects each spread to the next.  Changes can be glued into the pages.  Holly Hatam used to do dummies, but only uses pdfs now to view.  We can easily send those to editors, but it might not work at a conference of course.  Gladys Jose-Fabii prints at home and puts in a 5×7 portfolio so she can easily see the layouts and then replaces pages as she needs to.  Melissa Iwai also prints her own but stated using InDesign for layouts.  Then she sews hers and hand binds them (so nice!) but mentions she hasn’t done one ‘in ages.’  Kris McLeod also prints them herself on 11×17 spreads and glues pages back to back, then cropping.  She ‘loves the process of making them an stitching them together!”  She also glues changes into the gathered pages when needed.

Dave Szalay says he “places images in sequence in InDesign and typesets there too.  Then he exports to booklet format which creates the ‘imposition’ (printer’s spreads) in Adobe acrobat….then to Fedex/Kindos.”  Or he prints himself at the college where he teaches, and then saddles stitches them, and trims off the bleed.   Cathy Gendron says InDesign “makes it super easy – automated printer spreads reduces head scratching!”  Always a good thing!  She also mentioned that she learned a LOT from a Kathy Temean blog in 2012 on this subject…. check out the ‘crafting-a-book-dummy” blog from that time (5/15 I think)   So that seem a nice circle back to this ‘ASK CAT’ for Kathy Temean’s blog again!

I do hope you’ll all find this useful and interesting….I sure did!  Thanks for the question! Keep them coming so we con continue to learn together! I enjoyed the research and responses… thanks CAT group!  Happy Dummies all!

Christina Tugeau
The CAT Agency Inc.


Thank you Chris for another great article. I am getting out my sketch pad to do some blind contour drawings. 

Please help keep this column going by sending in your questions.


Hope this illustration by Nina Mata will inspire everyone to send in a question to Chris and Christy. Nina was just featured on Illustrator Saturday. Click her name to take a look.

Send your questions to kathy(dot) and put ASK CAT in the Subject Area.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Thank you for sharing,


  2. I’ve made many versions of dummies from hard cover to paperback. I use 28.-lb. paper and print double-sided so pages are back-to-back as they would actually be without the mess, bulk and waste of double the paper. I’ve used double-stick tape to assemble the pages, but stapling 1/4 inch in also works, For years I’ve intended to post instructions on my blog, but never have time!


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