Calling all artists! Japanese printing service campaign prints your own art on paper samples

Compare paper thickness and effects using your own art for a fixed fee!

After a vicious pummeling last year, the industry around fan-made comics—also known as doujinshi—is slowly starting to crawl back into the sunlight. Comiket, the biggest doujinshi event in Japan, is set to make a return at the end of the year. The companies that print these beautifully illustrated booklets have suffered heavy losses throughout 2020 and most of 2021, as without a dedicated selling event it’s much harder to justify the expenses required to print and bind the comics in the first place.

One printing company, Otakura, is holding a promotion specifically to reignite the flame in otaku artists’ souls. For 1,500 yen (US$13) you can take part in the Paid Sample Campaign where you can purchase one printed image on thirty different paper samples. They’re postcard-sized, too, so it’s a fun way to buy a bunch of adorable custom postcards!

▼ Here are the first 15 samples, with an illustration from our Japanese-language reporter Udonko.

▼ And the final 15!

As you can see, the same illustration carries a completely different aura depending on the paper’s thickness and finish. Udonko was pleased enough with the campaign to order a separate set with a different illustration.

Because there are so many different kinds of printing samples and thicknesses, Udonko decided to play a little game with the samples she received. A pretty typical memory game, with a twist—instead of matching cards, she’d try to remember what kind of paper and finish each card had.

Each card has that information printed on the lower-left corner, like so.

▼ This one is a result of digital offset printing on high-quality 135-kilogram (298-pound) paper.

So let’s just cover that up with a sticky note…

And now, to match them up! Easy enough, since Udonko had two identical sample sets with different art.

▼ These two are an obvious match!

▼ Yep, both are 220-kilogram digital offset prints on Hi-McKinley paper with a mosaic polypropylene finish!

How about this pair?

▼ Thanks to the dark and light two-tone effect these were easy to match up.

▼ Yeah! They’re both 172-kilogram digital offset prints with white ink on Mulberry Deep Matte paper.

Feeling good about this! On to the next pair!

▼ They look pretty similar…

▼ Bingo! Two 195-kilogram digital offset prints on Modern Craft paper!

So er… About these next ones…


▼ Are these…the same?

Well, let’s check.

▼ Well, the middle row is both digital offset prints on 135-kilogram paper, made without wood pulp…

The left and right rows were totally mixed up! How are you supposed to tell the difference?!

▼ One is on matte-coat 135-kilogram paper, the other is on 180-kilogram Satin Kinfuji paper.

Udonko had identified the wood-free paper as being the same due to its texture, but the only perceptible difference between the others seemed to be that the Satin Kinfuji paper was a teensy bit glossier. Udonko has been working with doujinshi and printing booklets for four years now, but she clearly needed to train a bit more to discern the different types of paper on offer.

The campaign is limited to enough samples for 10,000 people but apparently, they are actively seeking for more people to use the service. If you’re an artist living in Japan with access to an Otakura printing service you should treat yourself!

▼ The glittery company card provided with the sample pack describes the campaign.

Here’s hoping that this new campaign will get doujinshi artists, both new and old, excited to create some new dynamic books to sell at new, potentially in-person events as they open. Stay safe out there, and happy printing!

Related: Otakura
Images © SoraNews24

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