Design for Print

How to create a Design for Print.

Websites have seemingly taken the lead for promotion, but design for print is still a very important tool that business use to sell, instruct and inform. Then of course there is the vast amount of other things like packaging that can’t be replaced with a web page. The starting point for creating great deign for print (other than a good brief) is deciding in advance the processes and materials that will be used. The route for making these choices usually come down to a combination of budget, target market, quantity and brand style.

There are many different types of print available for use onto every conceivable substrate or object. Here we will be considering design for print onto paper. We’ll look at some of the options available and consider what influences the choices and decisions that need to be made. Thinking these things through at the outset will help us get the best results and the best value for money. The vast majority design we produce for print is for the CMYK or four colour print process.

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WORKING IN CMYK

In the design and print industries one of the most common colour printing presses is CMYK. These initials stand for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. So why does K represent black I hear you ask. There are many theories as to why and this is the one we go with. K stands for Key. CMKY is a subtractive colour process. In theory the C, M and Y colours can produce all the colours including black – but in reality without perfect dyes and substrates it doesn’t work. Adding black as a KEY colour improves contrast, detail, adds depth and produces a better appearing print.

We construct digital artwork for print so the printer can use it without editing or conversion. We create it using the the CMYK colours throughout. Using the same colour system as the printing press assures that the printed document appears as intended. CMYK files can look different on-screen to RGB files (red, green, blue). RGB is used for on-screen applications because the gamut of colours that can be reproduced using CMYK is less that that of RGB files.

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WORKING WITH SPOT COLOURS

PANTONE®

Pantone® produce and manufacture colour swatches. The swatches for design for print show the designer/client how the colours will appear when printed. Pantone® use a numbering system for their colour swatches. The number allow user anywhere to refer to the swatches for accurate colour matching. The swatches show the colours printed onto coated and uncoated paper as well as spot colour or CMYK colour alternatives. Spot colours and their CMYK conversion often give a different result though this depends on the colour and the paper type.

SPOT COLOURS

Solid colours that are printed independently of CMYK colours. Their advantage is that they allow precise colour matching. Spot colours are useful for corporate print when brand consistency is very important. The same pantone colour may look different in spot colour and CMYK print. Different substrates – most commonly coated or uncoated papers will also produce colour differences. Follow brand guidelines carefully to get the best results. Use spot colours alongside CMYK, or for art prints and poster work, they may be used on their own. For art prints, single or multiple spot colours produce solid dense accurate colour reproduction. Metallic and fluorescent colours are also specified using the Pantone® system.

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PREPARING A DIGITAL ARTWORK

Digital artwork sent to a printer must be constructed in a precise way. This will avoid problems down the line. Problems with the file when it is with the printer can be expensive. All the many (sometimes hundreds) of individual files that make up the artwork should be of the correct CMYK format. Images must be of a minimal resolution. 300dpi CMYK is ideal. Don’t enlarge images of on the page unless they are of high enough resolution.

SET UP

Get off to a good start by using professional software. Make sure your document’s colour space is CMYK (not RGB). When you import a logo or image file check that it is of the correct type and format. If the company specifies spot colours for their logo then the attached logo files have to reflect this.

Another important part when creating a design for print artwork is to ensure the document contains all the relevant printers’ marks. What we mean by this are the various marks (trim/crop, bleed and fold marks) that help instruct the printer when they process the printed sheets for print finishing. Bleed marks make sure that any part of the design that touches the edge of the artwork, extends beyond the finished dimensions of the page. When trimming the printed sheet to the correct dimensions it won’t have nasty white edges. Without bleed this can happen even with just a slight misalignment of the trimming process. Allowing for bleed is vital to achieving a good finish to your design for print.

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FINALISING THE DESIGN FOR PRINT

Proof copies are sent back and forth between the client and the designer. These proofs determine any grammatical mistakes, typos and spelling as well as the overall flow of the language used. Simultaneously we undertake the graphical prepress proofreading which involves looking at it’s visual appearance. We will look at type spacing, text hyphenation at the end of lines as well as the length of lines. Consistency and uniformity is key. When it comes to line lengths so we pay close attention to sentence breaks. This helps reading and understanding.

The designers job is to create fabulous design for print that takes account of every aspect of the project and brand. The finished job won’t be as intended though, until all the technicalities have to be sorted first.

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COATED OR UNCOATED PAPERS

There are hundreds, maybe even thousands of different papers on offer. These range from basic papers produced in vast quantity for everyday print projects. Hand made papers for very special projects are at the other end of the scale. The comparative prices are also at different ends of the scale. The vast majority of projects use standard coated and uncoated papers of varying qualities. Many different weights of paper are available from tissue thin to board weights.

PAPER TYPES

There are lots of different types of paper. The most common types are ‘art’ paper that is coated and ‘offset’ paper that is uncoated. Uncoated papers have a rough typical papery finish. Uncoated paper can be manufactured with various effects including wove (smooth), laid (textured lines in the paper) or linen (fine embossed surface texture). Art paper coating is normally clay.  Art paper is offered in matt, satin and gloss varieties. The surface of all three is smooth. The clay coating reduces ink absorption and offers a sharper image and brighter colours. The type of paper and finish is taken into account when creating design for print. Coated and uncoated papers each give a very different tactile experience.

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LITHOGRAPHIC PRINT

What is it?

Lithographic print is a process by which a printing plate that has has a negative image on it is covered with ink. The ink doesn’t stick to the non image ares because these have a repellent coating. The printing plate is rolled across the paper transferring the image to the paper. Aluminium, paper, mylar or polyester are be used to make printing plates.

What’s it good for?

Litho printing is very good for printing medium to large quantities of prints very quickly, to a high quality and at relatively low cost. Used for all manner of print projects. Brochure printing through to high-end packaging. The cost to set up may make it uneconomic for smaller print runs and in these situations digital print often provides the best solution.

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DIGITAL PRINT

What is it?

Digital print is an alternative to litho printing. It provides quick turn around. Low cost in smaller print runs. Quick because there is no need to make plates or set up a printing press. Digital printing presses are very much like a large very high quality version of the desktop ink jet or laser printer. No printing plates. No set-up. Digital print becomes uneconomic for larger print runs due to the running costs and slow print speed.

What’s it good for?

Great for smaller format work such as booklets, brochures, flyers, business cards. Care must be taken to check quality because some digital presses produce much better results than others. Print is an essential part of brand experience. Ensure your logo and brand are appropriately produced.

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PRINT FINISHING

Print finishing includes all the processes that the printed sheets go through once the ink has dried in order to turn them into the finished product. The list is long and generally each requires its own production process. In conclusion, some are done in combination through the use of automation.

Varnishing – matt,
gloss, glitter

UV varnishing

Laminating – matt;
gloss; textured, soft touch

Foil stamping

Embossing and debossing

Die stamping

Forme cutting

Guillotining

Cutting/creasing

Folding

Binding: Saddle stitching; perfect binding; PUR; sewn; wiro; comb

Gluing

Collating

Counting and wrapping

The list is endless…

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EMBOSSING

The embossing process created a raised impression on a sheet of paper or card. The debossing process created a sunken impression in a sheet of paper or card.  A pair of metal dies squeeze the paper into shape. The paper forms into the shape of the dies. Embossing can be done in combination with print – so a printed image is embossed. Blind Embossing doesn’t use print or foil in combination. Embossing uses print or foil in combination. Hot foiling is when metallic and coloured foil is applied to the paper during the embossing process. There are more effects that can be achieved, but these are rarely used.

When embossing forms part of the design for print, consideration has to be made for the type and weight of paper. A thin sheet of coated paper will limited the height of the embossing. The sheet can crack or split and the sheet may become distorted. High-end packaging and business stationery often utilise embossing to impart a sense of luxury and quality.

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