When we think of colors, we often think of many different shades of each primary color. Take blue for example…it can vary between colors such as baby blue, aqua, turquoise, teal, royal blue, or navy blue.
Many people would assume that the one exception to these color variations is black. After all, we think of black as being absolute darkness, and expect it to appear this way when printed on a document as well. However, black that is used in full-color (process) printing is transparent, like all process inks, and cannot cover ink or paper as thoroughly as you may like.
Although using an opaque black ink may seem like a simple solution, it would cause adverse reactions to other color or high-res images that contain black ink. Instead, the wise choice would be to add various “enriched” process blacks to your color menus. Their use should vary according to how and where the black is applied.
Here are two types of enriched blacks to consider using:
- Rich black. Rich black combines process black with one other process ink (traditionally 100% black and 60% cyan), which causes the black to appear “blacker” because the second ink color increases its density. Use rich black whenever the edges of a black object are fully exposed, or when a black object straddles other image information. And remember, it’s only appropriate for objects that are at least a quarter-inch thick.
- Super black. By combining three process undercolors (50% cyan, 50% magenta, and 50% yellow), you can create the deepest, most satisfying process black you can reproduce on-press. Use super black only when all the object edges are within other colors, or when they bleed off the edge of the page.
Note: Because computer monitors cannot accurately duplicate printed results, the graphic illustrating the use of enriched black is meant only to give an approximation of the end result.
It may seem like there is never time to proof something thoroughly the first time, but when it is not done, you may end up making time to do the entire job a second time. Just what are some of the things that should be checked during the proofing process? Here is a list to perfect your proofing strategy and to save cost with your printing:
The first place to start is the text. Review all text for spelling and grammatical correctness, check punctuation, and most importantly, accuracy of content. Making changes to text later in the production process will only slow things down, so make sure that everything is perfect before moving on to the next step.Proof the images.
Viewing the images on your computer is a great place to start, as long as your screen is calibrated properly, but keep in mind that the colors on-screen will not be a perfect match to the colors that are printed. Be sure to check the size and resolution of the image. For high-level image quality jobs, it may be wise to have a physical proof rather than just an on-screen proof of the images done on professional proofing equipment–you will get a better idea of the true color of the piece.
Proof the pages.
Checking an entire page of an original can be done on screen, but it is also a good idea to print out the pages. Look over the typography, placement of images, illustrations and text, as well as hyphenation and line arrangement, page format, and bleeds.
The difference between a thorough proof and no proof at all is the time you may spend having to redo a job. Taking the time at the beginning will save you time and money in the long run.
With the prevalence of fall sales, festivals and trade shows, Large Format Printing is a logical choice to get attention. A well-designed poster can bring many more people to your booth, business or event. Printing guidelines and considerations are different than other types of printed materials, so keep in mind strategies like these when planning Large Format Printing:
- Determine the best format.
Decide which is better for your needs: horizontal or vertical posters. Horizontal posters are less common and therefore may be more eye-catching. Determine the poster dimensions and design it with the exact dimensions in mind to avoid re-sizing later. Be sure to use the highest resolution possible.
- Keep it simple and easy-to-read.
Design your poster to be seen from a distance. The texts and fonts used should be large enough to read quickly, and the message should be short, not cluttered. Fonts should be simple, such as Arial. Include space between lines for better readability.
- Select colors that make sense.
If you want to really stand out, bright colors like red, orange and yellow are smart. Some colors, like blue and green, project calmness and may draw attention for this reason. Bold hues like black and silver are upscale. A photograph, if it is stunning and bold, can be impressive. Keep posters consistent with your image, such as when promoting your company or organization at trade shows. Remember to follow printers’ guidelines for bleeds so no white borders show.
With a well-crafted poster, you’re sure to stand out in a crowd. Your commercial printer can help you make the most of every sales’ message.
Going to a printer without having your files properly prepared is like gambling at a casino: you don’t know what quality the finished product will be. While it is easier than ever to get files ready, knowing some basic guidelines will ensure professionalism and optimum efficiency from the outset of your print project.
Check color consistency.
Use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, K where K is black) color space option rather than the RGB format (the one you see on your computer screen); this is the format used by computers and is the most accurate. Use 100% black with no additional CMY to guarantee true black.
Keep resolution at its highest.
Most printers consider 300 dpi resolution to be the minimum resolution standard. Create your design projects using whatever resolution you will be printing in so that quality of the finished product is sharp and consistent.
Don’t compress files if possible.
If you can save a file in TIFF format, you can keep the color and pixel data from the original design from varying. JPG and GIF image files can distort images by eliminating some of the color information from the file, or even some of the images themselves.
Leave enough trim and bleed room.
It’s good to have ¼ of an inch of room from the edge of a document so that it will not affect text or the images you are printing. Be sure to include trim marks to allow exact cutting; marks can be added with most design programs.
Include a descriptive file name and specifications.
This makes it easy for the printer to know what your file is, and its purpose. For example, “medical brochure back” instead of “brochure.”
It’s also helpful to specify things like:
- type of job and quantity needed (i.e. business card)
- the finished flat size and finished size
- type of paper stock
- number of ink colors
- whether it prints one side or two
- perfect bind, emboss or other finishing parameters
Save your files in a standardized format.
Be sure to “lock” your graphic design and text files in a format like Adobe Acrobat PDF files because they are compatible across a variety of platforms. “Locking” protects files from the possibility of any changes or edits to the camera ready image.
Thinking ahead will give you the best printing results and reduce the possibility of costly errors. It’s worth a few extra minutes to make files suitable for print.
Using color effectively for your print advertising is very important. Readers are 9 times more likely to remember what they see in color, versus something printed in just a single color like black. They are also 70% more likely to remember the details of what they’ve read if printed in color. Most companies find that full color printing is more powerful in every way; it’s easier to retain words, images, text and graphics longer. Small wonder that 50% of company forms and documents are done in full color, from postcards to door hangers. Also, people are influenced by specific colors on packaging, advertisements and other materials.
Some of the world’s top brands stay that way in part because their trademark colors are so much a part of their image. Coca-Cola’s red is very powerful, UPS is reliably remembered for brown and the yellow Best Buy logo is synonymous with bright ideas in electronics values. Certain colors express boldness (red), warmth (yellow), trust (blue) and peacefulness (green). This sets buyers’ moods and may even control their emotions. Combinations of these colors can be very effective in your marketing efforts. You may have to experiment to see which colors work best to establish brand recognition or convey such promotions as “sale” or “exclusive,” but full color lets you be more edgy than a monochrome or grayscale look. Determining your target audience will help you decide what kind of a color message to send.
• Make sure your design makes the color work. Even if you splash certain colors over your advertising materials, they need to be designed well and be relevant. Your logos, layout and even company name must work together synergistically to convey the unique message and brand identity you want to convey. If not, your message may get lost or create a mood like “power” or “boldness” when you want to emphasize softness, wholesomeness or another personality.
• Carry your color scheme and design across all of your advertising and marketing materials. This consistency will make your marketing more powerful since people can see one look across all your materials and remember your brand.
Let color help make a positive impact that will stand out from the crowd. Work with your printer to learn what color strategies work best for print ads, direct mail and other media.
When your budget is tight already, every dollar spent on printing must be well worth it. Printing costs can be cut significantly by thinking through some basics before the job ever goes on press. Armed with these tried-and-true tips, you’ll print more efficiently and avoid surprises when the final bill comes.
- Provide correct job specifications
Exact information must be given to the printing company when getting a quote. Make sure such specs as quantity, page size, delivery date and paper stock are correct. If the scope of the project changes, know that these costs may be higher. For example, not ordering enough brochures and having to do a print re-run can be quite costly.
- Consider small changes in paper size
Ask your printer if a minor reduction in page size—such as reducing the size of the piece 1/8” or ¼”—will lower your stock costs and total project cost. A small change can make a big cost difference.
- Let Your Printer Buy stock in bulk.
If you know that you’ll have similar jobs to print on special-order stock in the future, you could save on larger-quantity purchases if your printer can order paper for future projects.
- Use standard stock if possible.
Using paper, envelopes and other stock in the most popular sizes (i.e. A5 and A7 for envelopes) is typically cheaper than special order stocks.
- Avoid making changes after production starts.
Make sure all materials are proofread multiple times, that files are correct and that all content is finalized. Changes not only add substantial costs, but may delay the completion of the job.
- Ask your printer for optional quotes on a job.
Printing quotes often vary, depending on how a printer runs your project. It also doesn’t hurt to ask the printer for a their recommendations.
The better prepared you are, the better your print job—and bottom line—will look!