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Print Basics?

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by ldepty, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. ldepty

    ldepty New Member

    Hey All,
    I recently decided I wanted to look more in to the world of print. As a start I'm creating a set of four A3 posters around some concepts I thought up. I intend to get them printed when I'm done.
    I know that-

    - file should be 300 dpi
    - CMYK colour
    - 3mm bleed / 6mm for text
    - try to convert fonts to paths to avoid having to send the font to printers.

    I was just wondering if you guys had any corrections/ tips to help me get the best quality finish possible. I have read about things like using true black for large area's (30% Cyan, 30% Magenta, 30% Yellow, 100% Black) but not body text and also that people work in RGB, then convert to CMYK when they are finished? As a newbie id love to hear what you all think.
    Guy :icon_smile:
  2. Toppers

    Toppers Member

    Where you've mentioned 6mm for text I'm assuming you mean 3mm from the edge of the sheet.

    I'd stick to a very minimum of 5mm margins at least just to avoid any complications if any mis-regisitration on the press occurs. For an A3 print i'd personally have a minimum of 10mm just as my own personal preference.

    I never work in RGB for print. I'm unsure where you have heard about working in RGB and then converting just prior to press. This can cause all sorts of headaches, especially if you're proofing your work in RGB to clients as the colour match will be way off the mark.

    If you're working in a vector based software i.e. In-Design or Illustrator then you don't set up the resolution. Any elements that you bring in such as photographs really should be set to a minimum of 300dpi, Cmyk and lab coloured (depending on print process).

    Your CMYK values should equate to no more that 225% coverage.

    Ummmmm! I tired, so any more info then just ask again in the morning as i'm dead this evening :icon_scared:
  3. spottypenguin

    spottypenguin Active Member

    I would agree with all of that apart from if I am working on coated stock (i.e gloss/silk) then 250-300% seems acceptable to all the printers I work with, uncoated stock definitely 225% maximum.

    6mm is generally OK for the safe / quiet zone for the text but remember that is literally from the paper edge not the bleed.

    And when you said in your original post "try to convert fonts to paths" - always outline fonts then you never have any issues, just get into it from day 1 it saves any feck ups / nasty surprises when you get your work back.

    You should be OK with a 3mm bleed but sometimes large format stuff requires a larger bleed.
  4. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    I heard working in RGB format can reduce file sizes and speed up slower programs. I agree though, I think it can lead to more problems than it's worth.
  5. Idepty - you don't make clear how many copies you're getting printed - which really determines the production route. Assumptions have been made in the reply above, that you're running multiple copies via litho.

    Bleeds/Black make up/total ink coverage... all important when specifying for litho.

    As a wide format printer - I wouldn't dream of giving the designer control of my ink percentages - the colour would be shocking. So if you want a heavy black, set 0,0,0 in an RGB space and you'll get as black as the media can take.

    If you're printing via litho then CMYK makes sense. If you're printing via large format inkjet, RGB makes far more sense. The intended production method should determine the colour space.

    Why would you restrict your colours to the dull output of a litho press, if you intend to output on a wide format inkjet which can have a MUCH bigger colour gamut?

    I've covered this elsewhere on this site and in discussion here RGB or CMYK? Colour Spaces - what should you work in? | Hudson

    I've heard many reasons for working in CMYK all the time, but the only good one so far involves when the wide format machine is only being used as a proofer. If anyone has any others I'd like to hear them.

    If you are working in CMYK - make sure both you and the printer are able to answer the question "WHICH CMYK?" If you draw a blank on that take the time to understand what colour spaces are. CMYK? Which CMYK ?! | Hudson makes a start on this. If your printer draws a blank faced with that question, life's too short... find another printer!

    Hope that's useful,

  6. ldepty

    ldepty New Member

    Hey Craig,
    I read your article and must say I found it pretty interesting. If I am understanding it correctly, SWOP is the standard colour space that adobe uses and most designers stick to so that they can achieve a consistent colours when printing. However by defining what colour space you are working in you can move beyond the limitations of swop and work in spaces like adobeRGB 1998 which has a much larger colour spectrum available?

    You also mentioned that it is important to work out what the volume of printing will be so that you can determine which route to take. I plan to be printing 10-20 copies of each poster. As i dont have any experience in choosing a printer which would be better for this smaller volume of work.....? a litho or large format rgb (could you explain the difference between the two?)

    Also does this mean that MOST (but not all printers) will be able to print greater then the standard swop profile? And I should make sure that my printer understands colour spaces/ and ICC profiles before sending them any work?

    thanks for all your help so far.
    Kind regards,
  7. Hi,

    "If I am understanding it correctly, SWOP is the standard colour space that adobe uses...."

    Yes, USWebCoatedSWOP is the standard CMYK colour space you work in by default in AdobeCS. This is a space that represents the colour range of a SWOP certified litho press.

    "and most designers stick to so that they can achieve a consistent colours when printing."
    No, I suspect most designers stick to SWOP because they don't understand colour spaces, especially here in the UK. In the UK, if you wanted to limit to a space similar to most litho's output, you'd be better using FOGRA. In my experience most designers work in SWOP without realising, save to an untagged PDF thus not even telling the printer that SWOP was the source, and then wonder why they don't get the colour they want. (This suits me given that I help my customers with their colour communication, and if they've previously had a bad experience elsewhere my value to them is immediately apparent.)

    "However by defining what colour space you are working in you can move beyond the limitations of swop and work in spaces like adobeRGB 1998 which has a much larger colour spectrum available?"

    By defining the colour space you're working in you specify accurate colour. That's the first major step to good colour. Moving into a space larger than SWOP you're exactly right - more colours are available to specify. (This argument holds for CMYK spaces larger than SWOP too, it's not just an argument for switching to RGB.)

    Litho won't be of use to you at the quantities you're looking at. You'll be looking at digital, either wide format, or a digital press. Many copy shops have A3 output.
    Offset printing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Digital printing - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (surprisingly poor wiki entry here!)

    "does this mean that MOST (but not all printers) will be able to print greater then the standard swop profile?"

    Several answers here. The colour gamut of any printer/ink/media combination is determined by all of those factors. A super bright white paper that can hold vast quantities of ink without bleeding, printed on using extremely pure vibrant CMY inks and a perfect black has a huge potential colour gamut - regardless of whether it's digital/litho/screen or potato printing. So theoretically at least the answer to your question is yes.

    But reality sucks. Heavy ink loads cockle, bleed, don't dry, papers aren't bright white, etc etc. I think a fair answer is this - nearly all printers can print beyond SWOP. But, those who are SWOP certified deliberately limit their output to the SWOP standard. The purpose of standards being to be able to have printers all over the world print the same colour on the same paper using the same colour numbers. This gets blurred as Europe uses different standards and the USA has moved on from SWOP, and most designers still use SWOP's CMYK numbers untagged... I'd expect the next version of CS to ship with something different as its default space.

    With regards to wide format digital, my own area, the answer is a simple YES.

    "And I should make sure that my printer understands colour spaces/ and ICC profiles before sending them any work?"

    Two way communication. If you want accurate colour you need to know how to ask for it, they need to know how to understand your instruction. Can you imagine an architect not specifying exactly what units his dimensions were in, to a builder who didn't care to ask?

    BUT this is only relevant if colour matters to you. People have lived with bog standard dull SWOP output, or SWOP numbers being fed directly to the printer for a range of random colours, for years! Few have cared. Search the forums. You'll find rant after rant about how the company logo on the business cards looks different to the letterhead, to the van, to the exhibition stand, to the website... but despite all the finger pointing and arguing, it's gone on for years and will keep going on until designers specify accurate colour in the first place!

    I refer you back to this link CMYK? Which CMYK ?! | Hudson Lets have an honest straw poll of people reading this. How many designers have been producing files for years, and haven't understood that 30/50/0/0 does not represent a colour until you say which CMYK it refers to? Sure it hints in the direction of a colour. But if you want to be fussier about a colour than the range shown in that link, then you have to understand how to specify accurate colour. (The reverse is true - if you never need to be more accurate than that then you don't need to worry about this at all!)

    My contribution to this forum seems to be a little one track at the moment - apologies if I've bored on about this again!

  8. ldepty

    ldepty New Member

    Hey Craig,
    this is making much more sense to me now. In a nutshell its about taking the time to be specific with your work during and beyond the design process. The more effort you put in to things like defining colour spaces the most consistent and exciting your colours will be.
    Thank you so much for your replies, they were incredibly detailed and helpful :icon_smile:

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