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Design For Print: Pre-Production

*Written in my own words*

Document set up 
It is crucial that before designing any work digitally that the document is set up correctly to avoid errors and issues later when saving and sending to printers. Documents should be set up to the correct sized in which they need to be printed and include the appropriate marks required by the printer such as Bleed and slug sizes as well as the inclusion of printers mark if necessary. Additionally the correct colour modes should also be selected such as CYMK or PMS. The document should also be set up to the correct print resolution of 300dpi.

File Formats and Fonts 
There are two main types of image format category and they are bitmap images and vector images. Bitmaps images are raster based which means they are composed of individual pixels and they have a fixed resolution which means that any enlargement in size reduces the quality of the images. Whereas vector based images are image made using mathematical formula which enable them to infinitely scaled without any loss in quality. Vector are more commonly used for logos and other 2D images whereas bitmap images are used for photographs.

When sending work to be commercially printed the printer will always specify the file formats they work with, most commonly printers will work with PDF (portable document format). PDF’s can be created using common creative software such as Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. Using the PDF format means that linked images, colour profiles and fonts are all stored within the document so that the document is viewed the same regardless of what software is installed on the computer. They ensure that files are viewed consistently and that when saved it is as a close as possible to the original using high quality compression without loss in quality. Using PDF also ensures that document can be opened by the printer as they no paid software is required only Adobe Acrobat Reader which is provide for free by Adobe.

Files can be sent to printers in there native state such as PSD and InDesign files, however when sending work to printer in these formats you need to ensure you also send the relevant fonts along with the file as the computer viewing the document may not have the chosen fonts install therefore the work will appear differently on other computer as font substitution will occur. Within InDesign software tools are provided that ensure all linked and document necessary files as all saved into one folder which can be easily sent to a printer.

Colour Specifications
When sending documents to print if colours are being using out of the CYMK colour space such as colours from the PMS, these need to specified within the application before saving and sending the file and the printer also needs to be made aware. Pantone colours can be specified within all Adobe software using options within the colour picker, only pantone colours that have been used should be specified in the document, as if colours are present in swatches this may results in black plates being produced which can be a wasted production cost. Furthermore if specialist print techniques are being used these also needed to be specified however Adobe software doesn’t allow for spot vanishes and other affects to be specified therefore a colour should be substituted to represent where a varnish needs to be applied, this should then be made aware to the printer.

The proof stage is the final stage before the piece going to mass print and the final pieces are produced. The colour proofing stage allows you to correct any errors and flaws within the design that may have been missed at the digital stage or have appeared different in this printed physical state. When looking over a proof the following assessments are crucial, trim and bleed marks are aligned correctly, type is readable and legible and not broken and missing. The colour bars should be used to check that colour has been over or under printed and it the correct colour. Registration can be checked by using the registration marks if they are not aligned and one or more colours appear next to the registration marks, the proof has not been printed in register. Special colours, tints and flopping should also be checked at this stage. Once the proof has been assessed and then signed off by the client before the piece and be confirmed for print. Ensuring the client signs off the print proof will mean that you are held responsible for anything wrong with the final piece.

[Calvert S, Casey A and Dabner D. (2010) 'A Foundation Course for Graphic Designers Working in Print, Moving Images and Digital Media' London, Thames and Hudson]

[Ambrose, G and Harris, P. (2009) 'The Fundamentals of Graphic Design' Switzerland, AVA Publishing]

[Ambrose, G and Harris, P. (2008) 'The Production Manual' Switzerland, AVA Publishing]

[Fishel, C. (2007) 'Mastering Materials, Bindings and Finishes' USA, Rockport Publisher, Inc.]

[Mason, D. (2007) 'Materials, Process, Print: Creative Solutions for Graphic Design' London, Laurence King]

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