The Basics Of Print – Part 1


The Basics Of Print – Part 1

How To Set Up Files For Printing

One of the most important assets you can have as a designer in print, whether you’re new or old, is an understanding of how to setup your files correctly for printing. There are multiple ways to do this and I am not saying this is the only way but, it works and will teach you the fundamentals of correctly setting up your file so the printer doesn’t send them back and waste time in the printing process. There is some technical jargon in this article and I have included a glossary as part 2 to tell you what it all means. So veterans, students and anyone in-between will be able to read and take something away from this article.

Correct Colorspace

CMYK colour gamut via rgb colour gamut

The most important thing is to understand the difference between CMYK & RGB. Now, first off CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. RGB is Red, Green, Blue. Setting up the correct colour mode is crucial to have the correct colours print.

Why does it matter?

Let’s say your colour is Cyan: C: 100 M: 0 Y: 0 K: 0 that means that the selected area is going to receive all the cyan ink on one pass and the next three passes will not lay down any ink on the spot. Making sure that you understand how your file will be printed and therefore how you need to save it is a step that needs to be taken so you can achieve accurate colour in your prints.

Process Black vs. Build Black

Process Black Build Black Rich Black

When printing you want to make sure that you specify that all your blacks are 100% black ink. What this means is in the CMYK colours it should read: C: 0 M: 0 Y: 0 K: 100%. Doing this means that your blacks will print correctly as black and not a mixture of colours trying to be black and running the risk of printing as a dark grey that looks great on screen but not on paper.

Spot Colours

Pantone Spot Colours

Most company logos have an assigned PANTONE colour to them. This can add more colours to your print job. 4 colour process is very common for print colour specs. If you are adding a spot colour that would be 5 colours. Most of the printers in my area can only support a total of 7. 4 colour process + 3 spots. Logo’s are usually assigned a spot colour and if the company has its own PANTONE colour created just for them you will have to use their spot colour. However other clients might not want the added cost of printing their logo in a spot colour so you will need to print the logo in process colour instead of a PANTONE. A PANTONE colour has a CMYK value.

Example: PANTONE 032 (which is Red) has a CMYK conversion of: C: 0 M: 90 Y: 86 K: 0

The reason you would print the logo in a CMYK colour instead of a Spot is to save money or you are already printing a spot colour and the printer cannot accommodate another spot colour.

The Colour White

White doesn’t print! When I first started designing I thought there was a white ink. I thought I could make a white box on a page and get it to show-up on the design. A simple example of this is a newspaper article. If you are designing something for a newspaper that is white that section will be the newspaper itself. The colour will print around that “white” area.

File Format

Another reason you’ll get your files sent back to you faster than you can say Farfegnugen, is to not save them in the correct format. This does not mean save them “How you think is correct”, this means how your printer wants them. If they want a flattened Tiff, then you give them a flattened tiff. If they want a PDF X1A , then you give them a PDFX1A. Make sure that you know what you are sending them. If you have any questions send them an email or call them.

Remember: Not all printers want the same files.

This is rings true with newspapers, especially the local ones who use older technologies than the rest of the industry use. The 5 minute phone call will be easier than having to redo something later or having to reprint because you saved a file incorrectly. The last thing you want is to go back and work on a project you already thought was done.

Note: If you are in a crunch and can’t contact the printer send all the formats you can think of to cover your basics. Usually a PDF (optimized for print not a low-res space saver), a Tiff, an EPS, Packaged In-Design file or Quark file will usually do the trick.

Follow Directions

Following directions will save you time and money, especially if something has to be re-printed because you carelessly rushed through the directions on how you were supposed to provide the file. The most important thing is that you take your time and double check that everything is saved & packaged correctly.

Read Part 2 of the Article by clicking here.

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