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*Sending to print* an easy question for most I'm sure! :o)

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by Suzzled, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. Suzzled

    Suzzled New Member

    Hi helpful person reading this

    Right straight to the point, I did my Graphic Design degree over 5 years ago now and have sadly been building websites ever since! Recently been doing some design work again and loving it!! :thumb: My course was very lacking in any practical help so the sending to print area was overlooked, when doing your own work that isnt a problem as you can muddle through.

    But my question is... I have created a logo in photoshop, placed that in illustrator and created my various pieces of work in there, all looking great on screen (even though I do say so myself). Business cards, letterhead, leaflet, news paper ads and designs for company clothing. When sending these to the various companies for printing what format to use? I have just been sending the ai file and any associated images/logos. I want to ensure the highest print quality so I'm ready and willing to accept any advice you can offer, so I can look like I know what I'm talking about. :icon_notworthy:

    Thanks very much!

    Suzzled :icon_confused:
  2. spottypenguin

    spottypenguin Active Member

    You would be far better setting up the correct size document in Indesign, placing in any vector / Photohop files then exporting as a high res PDF with crops and bleed. Generally speaking a 3mm bleed, don't have any text within 6mm of the document edges (excluding the bleed). Makre sure any images are 300dpi and all of it is CMYK. Job done.
    Suzzled likes this.
  3. Suzzled

    Suzzled New Member

    Thanks spotty

    Thats great, I havent used Indesign but will get hold of a version. Might need further assitance at that point. It all sounds pretty straight forward from your instuctions. Can I ask why would I export as a high res PDF rather than save as a high res PDF.
  4. spottypenguin

    spottypenguin Active Member

    Exporting / Saving as ... same diff lol. I just meant create a high res PDF:icon_biggrin:
  5. isoPrint

    isoPrint Member

    Seems the text safe zone is always forgotten with designers more ofthen than not so well done putting that in their Mr Spottypenguin Also it was boltic this morning in Edinburgh wasnt it HA
  6. spottypenguin

    spottypenguin Active Member

    Indeed it was Mr Iso, now where's that part-time job you promised me? Haaaaaaaaa
  7. dedwardp

    dedwardp Member

    As above, PDFs are generally all I ever send to print.
  8. If you want accurate colour - you'll need to specify which CMYK too. If you don't want to get into understanding colour spaces, use one of the standard pdf "flavours" - eg. /x1a FOGRA that way you'll get accurate colour rather than an approximation of it. Any designer sending files out as "print ready" pdf - but in DeviceCMYK (ie. just CMYK percentages, no reference as to WHICH CMYK) will get a range of colours. Said designer should get used to colour variance from their suppliers, and the headaches communicating colour so badly will cause.

    Incidentally - any printer worth using shouldn't be asking their clients for only CMYK files either IMHO, but that's a different issue.
  9. CritPrint

    CritPrint New Member

    Totally agree with hudson.

    Another point to add, I would not suggest anyone sending over original ai or indesign files as there are many linked files and fonts that might be easily forgotten to include. So, the easiest and trouble free way would be to export to pdf for print.

    There are differences between saving in pdf and exporting (printing) to pdf. When you save as pdf, Adobe tend to include all layer information, such as names, effects, but when you print to pdf, you have an option to remove all these info to reduce file size. Also, when you print to pdf, you have the option to include which colour profile and whether to attach the profile to the pdf.

    I would advise anyone not to blindly convert files to CMYK without knowing what CMYK you are dealing with. If your file contains photographs, it is likely that your file is RGB. That means, severe colour clipping will occur without careful proofing and adjustments.
  10. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    Hi, I work in pre press, and I must ask you to please listen to your printer if they ask you to save a file using particular settings / file type etc, even if you've used your chosen settings successfully with another printer. Printers vary in technology and workflow, so there isn't a one size fits all answer. The people producing your job know best what is required for the technology they use. The amount of trouble we have with designers refusing to use our settings is untrue - a ruined job all for the sake of ego or what I don't know!
  11. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    You can easily package an Indesign job to include all links and fonts, the same with Quark. It's a feature I wish was available in Illustrator too!
  12. I try not to disagree with people but... "please listen to your printer if they ask you to save a file using particular settings / file type etc" is questionable.

    Hmm. I agree re: file types (no, I can't print this .gif at 3m2!) But I'm a printer, and I think "send it with these settings" is often a cop out, and causes more problems than it solves. If a printer just says "give me a CMYK pdf" without specifying WHICH CMYK you shouldn't use their settings. (You shouldn't use their service!) If a printer says "send me a pdf/x1a Fogra39" then at least they're demanding accuracy of instruction, but they're putting the onus on the designer to understand output colour spaces and printing standards, and that's an area designers aren't always well versed in.

    Half the problem designers encounter is that it's often the blind leading the blind when it comes to colour management. An ICC colour managed workflow - well that's pretty much designed to be a "one size fits all answer" - and sending out different file types to accommodate the failings of printers to understand their own trade... that makes little sense to me. Why should it be the designer's responsibility to know how to convert RGB photo elements into the output colour space? How many designers here know what visual difference to expect if they convert vector elements using the Relative Colormetric intent, and photo elements using the Perceptual? Hands up those designers who don't know what a rendering intent is... don't be embarrassed - there are a lot of printers using rendering intents constantly with no clue as to what they do! So why do printers dump that process in the designer's lap? The printer's RIP software is best at performing that task anyway isn't it?

    Printers should be saying "send out a colour managed file, one of these types..." and designers should be saying "here's a colour managed file". The days of "send us a print ready file, no rgb please" are fading I hope!
  13. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    All I can tell you is my own experience...we ask for a print ready PDF: saved to a certain, common, one click choice standard, which is the best file type to go through our rip - the rip handles everything else. It's not a failure of a printer to understand their own trade if the pdf sent doesn't go through the workflow (as in, it fails).

    It's not unreasonable of us to ask for a designer to send a PDF they have exported using the settings we request - we also supply the settings on request (although this isn't needed as it's a setting that comes with the software as standard.) That's how it goes here.

    I am not talking about asking a designer to configure their files in the way you describe. Just making a point that you should listen to your printer and not presume you know best what works with their workflow. What works for one doesn't work for another iyswim.
  14. "Print Ready PDF" is the term I've come to accept as unmanaged & colour restricted - dull in other words. It doesn't have to be but mostly is. Often the standards, x1a, x4 etc are ignored, and something like the High Quality or Press Quality presets are asked for. That's easy enough, and doesn't cause the designer any grief... does it? Well yes. Actually, it's often the root of a load of pain!

    The vast majority of printers ask for and get non colour managed "print ready" pdfs. The vast majority of printers settle for colour that is dull and "close enough". Problem is the dullness isn't a failing of the printer, his equipment, or the design. It's the workflow crippling the colour.

    Take the Press Quality PDF option for example. Lets say I've got a simple design in a big RGB colour space like AdobeRGB. I output to Press Quality PDF as asked and it converts my colours into the US Web Coated SWOP space, and doesn't include profiles so that the recipient even knows it's in SWOP. The printer gets it, throws it at the RIP, and only gets an accurate SWOP version of the design if the output device is calibrated to SWOP (very unlikely!) - most likely it's just the CMYK numbers output on whatever media/ink/press combi is in place. Random. Nothing close to managed, not close to my original design (which the printer has never even seen, only having the already dull pdf) and most importantly - almost impossible to duplicate without matching in some way.

    Any repetition with a different media/press/printer leads to tweak, test, tweak, test, blame printer, blame screen, blame rgb, blame unreasonable expectations, everyone matching, everyone moaning or settling for inaccurate colour. The sad news is, the printer's machines could probably have hit the designer's colours or got a lot closer to them, but that chance was scuppered early on. Scuppered right at the point someone said "save as a Press Quality PDF" rather than "send me a colour managed file."

    Surely the designers job is not to come up with something that works with one printer's workflow. The designer's job is to communicate the colour they need the printer to create. The printer's job is to understand that communication and produce it accurately. I think of it this way. If the printer can't understand the language colour is being communicated in and needs it translated into a less descriptive or vague form, the choice is 1) Accept the limited results operating that way will get, or 2) find a printer that talks the language being used so as to get accurate colour... plus then find other printers that also talk the same language so as to get the same accurate colour from each - because by definition, when a colour managed workflow works for one, it does work for another.
  15. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    It should please you to know we use PDF X as our standard then! :)

    You should listen to your printers advice.
  16. That puts you in a minority so I can see why you'd advocate that designers listen to YOUR advice re files. But I still don't think designers should blindly follow printer's advice!

    Google "wide format printer" and look at some of the mind numbingly stupid file format instructions offered! A well known portable display manufacturer that also prints demands PDF or EPS, CMYK only. EPS isn't colour managed, and no PDF type is mentioned. As for the normal CMYK only rubbish... "conversion from RGB can produce unexpected results".. Yes it can, if the person doing it has no clue at all.

    Even if unusual results did occur (which frankly, they shouldn't) any printer fobbing the conversion off is saying "this can be tricky, so you do it. You do the difficult part Mr Customer." I'm not sure that's the attitude I want from a supplier.

    A printer who advocates conversion to unmanaged CMYK is saying "limit your colour, and ditch all hope of colour accuracy without headaches" - that's not advice any self respecting designer should follow is it? See what your printer has to say about file types of course, but surely use that response to know what you're dealing with, don't blindly follow dumb advice or settle for crap colour because the printer knows no better?
  17. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    I understand what you are saying, and I do agree with your points about random PDF settings such as the high quality press ones etc - is it a huge struggle to get a customer to let go of the random settings they were given by a printer years ago and get them to use PDF X as standard as they won't listen at all.

    There is a crucial difference I suppose between listening to advice, blindly following advice, and ignoring advice completely. Perhaps I should rephrase and say "keep an open mind" when talking to your printer then? I am purely interested in dispelling the myth that all printers are stupid and ignorant and to be ignored, which tbh I do feel you are saying here, please correct me if I am wrong.

    Unusual results frequently occur when an incompetent designer does a bad job as they don't understand what does and doesn't work in print, in the same way some websites don't work because the person designing it doesn't understand the constraints (for example, in the past, thankfully not anymore with the advances in technology, we had problems processing transparencies). It's learning process, you can't learn if you don't listen. That kind of attitude we get "oh MY file is fine, YOU'VE done something to it". At that point it's just gone through the RIP, and we're interested in solving the problem, and will happily have a look at the original files to see what the issue is and resolve it, we don't expect customers to understand the things we do in relation to print or resolve it themselves - it's an unfortunate fact though that a lot of designers just won't send us their files, or listen, or let us help them as they view us in a poor way, perhaps due to past experience or what have you. There's more to artwork than just colour.

    If you've designed properly, and saved to PDF X standard, you are absolutely right, there should be no issues whatsoever. There's a problem within the a/w to start with if it won't save to pdf x at all (which we've had...)

    I would always advocate building a good relationship with your printers. I am happy to change my wording to say "Listen and keep an open mind." I mean, you're expecting people on here to listen to you, and surely you'd expect your clients to listen to you? I also think we're at odds in views here as we deal with different types of print. I do not deal with large format, and I am aware it's different in comparison to lithographic and digital print.
  18. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    It's also things as simple as listening if you are asked to save your cutting forme as a spot, or take it off the a/w and save with crops marks and bleed. It's not purely about what file types to save as.
  19. I'm certainly not suggesting that all printers are stupid! I completely agree that specifics - such as including cutter guides as spots need dialog. The very best print comes about when a meaningful dialog exists between designer and printer and colour is communicated accurately. (I use colour to mean every dot on the page, encompassing transparency, overprint and every other PS instruction that can cause the RIPping out of hair!)

    We're not much at odds at all. How would you react if you were subcontracting a job with a critical colour in it and the printer's website asked you for a non specific PDF? Probably the same way I would - very carefully!

    I'm uncomfortable thinking of an "incompetent designer" and perhaps this highlights where our positions differ. Consider this... Someone who knows their way around web design gets asked to knock up a poster. They have the creative chops, and they have the software knowledge to make it. If they were to follow the instructions offered on MANY printer's websites, they'd kill their colour and guarantee random output. When they receive posters that don't match the intended corporate colours the printer washes his hands or headaches ensue. Yes the printer's instructions (and poor workflow) are to blame, but the designer doesn't know enough about the subject to recognise that or argue it so the printer blames the "incompetent designer." Blame isn't the important issue and misses the point. It's not a comfortable way to work, it wastes time and effort, and therefore money. Everyone owns the tools to be accurate easily! If the web designer wants to do business with me, I want his business, and I want to help him keep filling his (and therefore my) order tray with wide format work even if it's a field he's not "competent" in.

    If the printer demands a safe colour managed route like pdf/x that's great - but how does the designer know that if they're out of comfort zone? So the designer that comes to you is safe, but the designer who goes to BodgitandLeggit Wide Format gets into an unnecessary situation. So we end up with "only follow the printer's advice if it's good advice" - which disappears up its own behind because the designer would have to know enough to tell the difference. Which is where I disagreed with your comment in the first place.

    I'd suggest "learn how to create a print ready colour managed file - lets say a pdf/x4 or a pdf/x1a - and only deal with printers who accept that and can print it accurately" would be better advice all round - what do you think?
  20. LovesPrint

    LovesPrint Member

    "learn how to create a print ready colour managed file - lets say a pdf/x4 or a pdf/x1a - and only deal with printers who accept that and can print it accurately"

    It's good advice, definately.

    I am not uncomfortable in thinking of incompetent designers as I come across so bloomin many on a day to day basis - ones who don't learn to do it properly you've stated above and are unwilling to learn, and whose designs are just plain awful anyway. There are also plenty of crap printers too, of course.

    "I want his business, and I want to help him keep filling his (and therefore my) order tray with wide format work even if it's a field he's not "competent" in. " And this exactly supports my point, this is how I feel, and I am always willing to help.

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