The next company publication is coming out and you have the final say on what goes to print. You may be a designer who has full creative reign over the project or you may, by your own admission, be as clueless as they come when it comes to making creative decisions. Either way, how do you know that amazing design you see on screen is going to work when printed and how will you know until you get that call from the printers, or even worse, receive a very bad printed product? (OK, so you won’t get that from us as we will let you know if we see anything that is going to make your print look bad but why let it get to that stage?)
I have seen some great concept designs at Printhouse; some our own work and some supplied by external graphic designers. Most work out beautifully and yet others just don’t look as good on paper as they did on screen. Naturally, our creative team knows where it’s at when it comes to good design **smiles smugly** but how do we know what we know and who told us? Well, one of the benefits of a graphic studio and a printers all being under the same roof is real time communication. In other words, there is no-where to hide when one of the printers gets the hump and brings you the printed sheet to see why your design idea may not have been considered practically. You see, a bad design makes hard work for a printer which results in a long hard lecture about why you shouldn’t use 5pt serif text reversed out of 4 colour, etc. Have you ever seen a grumpy printer? And that’s how we know…
So, to spare designers and non designers the hassle of receiving that call, I have a list of, lets call them annoyances, from our lovely printers. In no particular order:
- OK, so I have covered one already. Try to avoid using small type, especially thin serifs or intricate script fonts in 4 colour work, reversed out or as the text colour. On screen it looks good and small type can often look more professional but not when it isn’t in register. Try a sans serif font and a spot or single colour instead.
- 4 col black small text. Very similar to the above point. It is best to either pick a spot colour if you are going to have pages and pages of small text or just leave the text as black. 4 col text does not register well, and the smaller it gets, the harder it is to fit.
- Colours that contain a high percentage of reflex blue. This is a colour that looks very blue when printed but when it dries, often appears more red. Therefore, the printer has to make allowances for this which adds difficulty to the job.
- Very fine text or elements when printed on uncoated stocks. Uncoated stock is porous and therefore, small elements, particularly text can spread. Best avoided if possible.
- High percentage tints on uncoated stock. Again, because of the porous nature of this paper, the printer as to apply more pressure to the job which results in spreading of dots, meaning small details may be lost.
- High percentage tints used with solids. If a job has lots of solids through out , the printer will often have to bump up the colour for these too look good. Having lots of tints means that these are affected by this also. It makes the printers job quite hard to balance all of these elements.
Consider these little grieviances and you will be well on your way to making a printer very happy and even more importantly, receiving a printed product that will look good, professional and that the company can be proud of. Of course, these are just suggestions and ways that you can cut out potential problems but a skilled printer will be able to manage these issues and we are very confident in ours. Whatever way you want to look at it, to be aware of the printing process can only help you make better design decisions and give you an appreciation of the skills involved on the printing press.
Footnote. OK, so I have given the printers a hard time all in the name of good fun. They are a good bunch of guys really!