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Design For Print An introduction for graphic designers to the world of commercial print

Design For Print

Contents 7

















Tips & Trick

An Introduction to the World of Commercial Print


Introduction to Designing for Print The world of commercial print is one which is filled with endless opportunities for graphic designers to apply an array of print processes and finishing techniques to work to produce eye-catching and effective publications and products. Printing in its simplest form is the process by which ink is applied to a substrate, but the method of printing a designer chooses to use to do this depends on practical factors such as the quality, cost, volume and time, while also taking into account the required aesthetic factors such as the quality of the visual result. Most printed products can be enhanced in some way by applying one of the countless finishing techniques once the ink is on the paper, such as folding, die cutting, foil blocking or binding. Print production involves a range of processes that allow an idea for a design to take a physical form, and without a simple grasp of these concepts, it is unlikely that a designer will use up the full potential of what is available to them in the printing world. The aim of this book is to provide an introduction to this world of commercial print, and to establish a foundation from which graphic designers can start to use the countless resources at their fingertips.






Fully preparing the files and artwork ready for printing


FInishing the design work ready for printing

paratio ns


Choosing a printer who will be able to meet the needs and requirements of the project



t Prin er

Planning the products that are being produced and an initial look at the print processes to be used


Getting the brief from the client and deciding upon what needs to be produced



he Brie



Breakdown of the Print Process

Checking documents for any errors before printing

Contacting different printers for quotes on pricing and services

nting i r P Work being printed by printer and any finishings applied



ng O i n g


otes u Q

Pitching the ideas to the client to gain feedback and their input

Having the proposals signed off, ready to begin the design work



Starting to put together design ideas for the products

he Pitc



sign Id


Finished product ready to be sent back to the client


Colour For Print


Introducing Colour For Print Colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green, blue, and others. The colours we see are derived from the spectrum of light and the way it interacts in the eye with the spectral sensitivities of our light receptors. Colour categories and the physical specifications of colour are also associated with things such as objects, materials and light sources based on their physical properties such as light absorption, reflection, and how they are emitted. Other names for the science of colour are chromatics, chromatography, colourimetry, or simply colour science. In general, the science of colour includes the perception of colour by the human eye and brain, the origin of colour in materials, colour theory in art, and the physics of electromagnetic radiation in the visible range, or more simply, light.


RGB vs. CMYK Colour Models RGB - Red, Green, Blue

Additive Colour Additive colour is the term used to describe the situation where colour is created by mixing the visible light emitted from differently colored light sources. In additive colour models such as RGB, white is the “additive� combination of all primary coloured lights, while black is the absence of light. Computer monitors and televisions are the most common form of additive light, and the additive reproduction process usually uses red, green and blue light to produce the other colours. The combination of an equal amount of two of these additive primary colours will produce the additive secondary colours cyan, magenta, and yellow. The coloured pixels in displays do not overlap on the screen, but when viewed from a sufficient distance, the light from the pixels diffuses to overlap on the retina. As colours on screen are made up of combinations of light, there is a much wider range of colours available than there are in print, so it is it is important to make sure any work for print is completed in the correct mode.


CMYK - Cyan, Magenta,Yellow, Key

Subtractive Colour A subtractive colour model is used to explain the mixing of paints, dyes, inks, and natural colourants to create a full range of colours, each caused by subtracting some wavelengths of light and reflecting the others. In other words, the light is absorbed into the physical mixtures of colourants and wavelengths of light are reflected, giving us the colours we see. The colour that a surface displays depends on which colours of the electromagnetic spectrum are reflected by it and therefore made visible. Subtractive colour systems start with light, presumably white light and coloured inks, paints, or filters between the viewer and the light source or reflective surface subtract wavelengths from the light, giving it colour. If the original light is not white, the visual mechanisms in our eyes are able to compensate well, although not perfectly, often giving a flawed impression of the “true� colour of the surface.


Colour Separations for CMYK

Full colour printing, sometimes called ‘four colour printing’, is a printing process which allows the printer to print the full range of colours available, such as in full coloured photographs. Printing in full colour is achieved through using Cyan, Magenta,Yellow and Black (or Key so as not to confuse it with blue) inks.

Full colour image

This colourful image has been broken down into the negative colour separations that would be used to create the CMYK plates to print this image in full colour.

Separation for Cyan

Separation for Magenta


Separation for Yellow

Separation for Black (Key)

These colour separations show which colours are needed where and in what concentrations to print each of the different colours in the image. Proofing and checking through the colour separations is an important job before sending work to be printed to avoid the printer making mistakes in the imagery or needing to use unnecessary spot colours.

Separation for Cyan, Magenta and Yellow


Spot Colours

In offset printing (a technique where an image is inked onto a plate, then a rubber roller and then onto the printing surface), a spot colour is any colour generated by an ink (pure or mixed) that is printed using a single run, rather than being built up from layers of cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks. Generally, the cost and potential for problems for a print job increase as more spot colours are added, due to the increased cost needed to produce the extra plates and that more runs per finished print are required. However, using spot colours allows for a larger range of colours and finishes to be applied to the work.


Pantone Pantone Inc. is a company best known for its Pantone Matching System (or PMS for short), an international colour system used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, but sometimes in the manufacture of coloured paint, fabric, and plastics among other things. Originally beginning as a commercial printing company in the 1950s, they developed a system of simplifying stocks of pigments and coloured inks, and organised it all into an easy to use, international standard which would allow designers to easily communicate with printers, clients and so on in different parts of the world.


Pantone The concept behind the Pantone Matching System is to allow designers to “colour match” specific colours when a design enters production stage, regardless of the equipment used to produce the colour and the countries it is designed and printed in. This system has been widely adopted by graphic designers and reproduction and printing houses for a number of years now. By standardizing the colours, different manufacturers in different locations can all refer to the Pantone system to make sure colours match without direct contact with one another. The company’s primary products include the Pantone Guides, consisting of a large number of small (approximately 6×2 inches or 15×5 cm) thin cardboardsheets, printed on one side with a series of related colour swatches and then bound into a small “fan deck”. For example, a particular “page” might contain a number of yellows of varying tints. One important use of the Pantone Matching System is standardizing colours in the CMYK printing process. However, most of the Pantone system’s 1,114 spot colors cannot be simulated with CMYK but with 13 base pigments (15 including white and black) mixed in specified amounts. The added benefit of using the Pantone system allows for many special colours and effects to be produced, such as metallics and fluorescents.


Hexachrome Hexachrome was a six-colour printing process designed by Richard Herbert, the president of Pantone Inc. In addition to custom CMYK inks, Hexachrome added orange and green inks to expand the colour gamut, improving the quality of colour reproduction in print, therefore also being known as a CMYKOG process. Hexachrome was limited by trademark and patent to those obtaining a license from Pantone and was therefore discontinued by Pantone in 2008 when Adobe Systems stopped supporting their HexWare plugin software.

The main purpose of Hexachrome was to create inks for a printing system that could depict a brighter and clearer picture by being able to produce more accurate colours. Using this system instead of the CMYK ink system prints also allows for more accurate skin tones and pastels, and lets users print the images from computer screens that were not able to be accurately duplicated before, due to increased levels of accuracy from mixing colours, and the opportunities of more spot colours. This increases efficiency by allowing for the press to use one ink set for all jobs, rather than one specified ink set for each job. Keeping a printer configured for Hexachrome also eliminates the number of washes required on the printer which not only saves time, but generally simplifies the whole print process.


Image Manipulations for Print Halftone Images Halftone is a reprographic technique which simulates continuous tone and colours in imagery through the use of dots, by varying either their size, shape or spacing. The term ‘halftone’ can also be used to describe the image which is created through this process. The difference between continuous tone imagery, containing an infinite range of colors or greys, and halftone images is the process of halftoning reduces visual reproductions to a binary image that is printed with only one colour of ink. This binary reproduction relies on a basic optical illusion—that these tiny halftone dots are blended into smooth tones by the human eye. It requires significantly less ink to print halftone images than continuous tone images as halftone is made up of collections of discreet dots, therefore making halftone images a much more efficient alternative to use in newspapers and magazines.

Duotone Images Originally developing from Cyanotype and halftone prints, duotone is a form halftone reproduction of an image created by the superimposition of one contrasting colour halftone (traditionally black) over another colour halftone. The most common colours used are blue, yellow, browns and reds and duotone is most often used to bring out the middle tones and highlights of an image. Due to recent advances in technology, duotones, tritones, and quadtones can be easily created using image manipulation programs. Duotone colour mode in Adobe’s Photoshop uses an imaging process that computes the highlights and middle tones in a black and white image then allows the user to choose any colour ink as the second colour.


Image Manipulation Examples Halftone Images Greyscale halftoned image using round dots

Coloured halftone image


Image Manipulation Examples Duotone Images Monotone An image recreated in black monotone, which appears to resemble an image in greyscale mode.

Duotone The image is then converted to duotone by adding a second colour, in this instance it is Pantone Process Yellow. This makes the image appear a muddy yellow colour.


Tritone Another colour, Pantone Process Cyan, is then added to make the image a tritone and more definition begins to appear in the image.

Quadtone Finally, adding the last colour, Pantone Process Magenta, converts the image to a quadtone,. The image now resembles a high end two-toned image, with a depth of definition and quality.


Formats For Print


Paper - A Brief History Simply put, paper is a thin material mainly used for writing upon, printing upon, drawing or for packaging. At its most basic form, it is produced by pressing together moist fibres, typically cellulose pulp derived from wood, rags or grasses, and drying them into flexible sheets. Paper is a versatile material which makes a more than regular appearance within our day to day lives. The most common use for paper is for writing and printing upon, but it is also widely used as a packaging material, in many cleaning products, in a number of industrial and construction processes, and even as a food ingredient – particularly in Asian cultures. Paper, and the pulp papermaking process, was said to have developed in China during the early 2nd century AD, although the earliest archaeological fragments of paper derive from the 2nd century BC in China. Throughout history there have been many different paper size standard conventions at different times and in different countries. Today there is one widespread international ISO standard (including A4, B3, C4, etc.) and a local standard used in North America (including letter, legal, ledger, etc.). The paper sizes affect many of the different uses of paper, notably writing paper, stationery, cards, and some printed documents. The standards also have related sizes for envelopes.


ISO Paper Sizes ISO paper sizes are all based on a single aspect ratio of square root of 2, or approximately 1:1.4142. The current international paper size standard, ISO 216, is based on the German DIN 476 standard for paper sizes. By 1975, so many countries were using the German system that it was established as an ISO standard, as well as the official United Nations document format., and by 1977, A4 was the standard letter format in 88 of 148 countries. Today the standard has been adopted by all countries in the world except the United States and Canada. In Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia,Venezuela, Chile and the Philippines the US letter format is still in common use, despite their official adoption of the ISO standard. Folded brochures of countless different sizes can be made using sheets of the next larger size, e.g. A4 sheets are folded to make A5 brochures. The system allows for scaling without compromising the aspect ratio from one size to another, as provided by office photocopiers, e.g. enlarging A4 to A3 or reducing A3 to A4. Also, two sheets of A4 can be scaled down and fit exactly on one sheet without any cutoff or margins.


A Sizes

The base A0 size of paper is defined to have an area of 1 m2. With this definition and the given aspect ratio of square root of two, one can calculate the sides of an A0 sheet as follows: The long side is 1 metre multiplied by the square root of the square root (or simply, the fourth root) of 2 and the short side is 1 metre divided by the same.

Successive paper sizes in the series A1, A2, A3, and so forth, are defined by halving the preceding paper size along the larger dimension. The most frequently used paper size is A4, which measures 210 by 297 millimetres (8.3 in Ă— 11.7 in).


B Sizes

In comparison to A sizes, B sizes are less common in office use, but instead are used for a variety of special situations. Many posters use B-series paper or a close approximation, such as 50 cm Ă— 70 cm, while B5 is a relatively common size choice for books. The B series is also used for envelopes and passports.

The B-series is widely used in the printing industry to describe both paper sizes and printing press sizes, including digital presses. B3 paper is used to print two US letter or A4 pages side by side using imposition; where four pages would be printed on B2, eight on B1, etc.


C Sizes

While the A and B series’ of paper sizes are used for a variety of different print products, C series is used only for envelopes. The area of C series sheets is the geometric mean of the areas of the A and B series sheets of the same number; for instance, the area of a C4 sheet is the geometric midpoint of the areas of an A4 sheet and a B4 sheet.

This means that C4 is slightly larger than A4, and B4 slightly larger than C4. The practical usage of this is that a letter written on A4 paper fits inside a C4 envelope, and a C4 envelope fits inside a B4 envelope.


Envelope Sizes and Formats

Envelopes are generally designed to contain a flat object, such as a letter or card. Traditionally, envelopes are made from sheets of paper cut to one of three shapes: a rhombus, a shortarm cross, or a kite, which allow for the creation of the envelope structure by folding the shape so a rectangle-faced enclosure is formed with an arrangement of four flaps on the reverse side. Envelopes come in a variety of different sizes, although many are made to ISO C size measurements.

Book Sizes and Formats

Book sizes are generally measured by the height against the width of a leaf, or sometimes the height and width of its cover. To determine the format of a book, bibliographers will study the number of leaves in a gathering, their proportion and sizes and also the arrangement of the chain lines and watermarks in the paper. Books can be made to virtually any size and are not usually set to an international standard.


Newspaper Sizes and Formats

Newspaper formats and sizes vary substantially, with different countries adopting different formats. The size of a newspaper format refers to the size of the paper page; and the printed area within that can vary considerably depending on the newspaper. In some countries, particular formats have associations with particular types of newspaper. An example of this, in the United Kingdom, is between the ‘tabloid’ and ‘broadsheet’ newspapers as a reference to newspaper content quality, which originates with the more popular newspapers using the tabloid format; hence “tabloid journalism”.


Stock For Print


Introduction to Stock

One of the most important things to experiment with and decide upon when creating work for print is the substrate, or stock, that the work is going to be printed. The three most important things to consider when choosing a stock are the colour, weight and finish, but also how the paper or stock will be used in the final product. If it is simply a publication, then printing on heavy weight board may not be appropriate, yet this may me more suited to printed packaging. There are thousands of different types of specialist papers that are available for use in the commercial printing industry. The choice of paper or stock can alter the price or value of a printed publication or packaging, and can also seriously alter the budget of a piece. There is an absolute magnitude of different stocks available for printing upon, so as soon as possible during the design process, it is important to mock up the finished product on different stocks, plus the stock that is the same weight and finish as the final piece to be able to see how it will come out when completed. The three characteristics of colour, weight and finish will greatly affect any printed outcome so it is important to choose the right ones.


Weights of Stock Paper is often characterized by weight, where the weights for different stocks are generally easy to calculate. The thickness of paper is often measured by caliper, which is typically given in thousandths of an inch. Paper may be between 0.07 millimetres (0.0028 in) and 0.18 millimetres (0.0071 in) thick. In regions of the world using the ISO 216 paper sizing system (such as Europe), the weight is expressed in grammes per square metre (g/m2 or often just g) of the paper. Printing paper is generally between 60 g and 120 g. Anything heavier than 160 g is considered card. Whereas, in the United States, the weight assigned to a paper is the weight of a ream, 500 sheets, of varying “basic sizes�, before the paper is cut into the size it is sold to end customers. The weight of a ream therefore depends on the dimensions of the paper and its thickness. Most commercial paper sold in North America is cut to standard paper sizes based on customary units and is defined by the length and width of a sheet of paper. The density of paper ranges from 250 kg/m3 for tissue paper to 1,500 kg/m3 for some speciality paper. Printing paper is usually about 800 kg/m3. The quality of stock is, in general, dictated by the weight and finish as this has an effect on the durability, lifespan and general quality of the product.


Paper may be classified into seven categories: - Printing papers of a wide and diverse variety. - Wrapping papers for the protection of goods and merchandise, including wax and kraft papers. - Writing paper suitable for stationary requirements, including ledger, bank, and bond paper. - Blotting papers containing little or no size. - Drawing papers usually with rough surfaces used by artists and designers, including cartridge paper. - Handmade papers including most decorative papers, Ingres papers, Japanese paper and tissues, all characterized by lack of grain direction. Specialty papers including cigarette paper, toilet tissue, and other industrial papers.


Finishes of Stock The finish of a stock refers to the surface characteristics of the paper, such as how the paper feels. Different stocks can have a variety of different finishes, such as smooth, glossy or rough. Finishes can be applied to paper during the manufacturing process or produced offline, other finishes, such as ‘Laid’, can be created while it is being manufactured with the use of a marking roller that forms the pattern in the paper while it is still wet. Paper finishes provided offline are usually accomplished with steel rollers that press the pattern into the paper, which are also known as embossed finishes.


There are two main differences between types of stock used for printing, coated and uncoated. A coated stock has a surface coating that has been applied to make the surface more receptive for the reproduction of text and images which allows for sharper detail and improved colour density, whereas uncoated stock is paper that has no coated pigment applied which reduces the absorbency and increases the smoothness. Coated paper finishes can be categorized as matte, dull, cast, gloss, and high gloss, where the coating can be on both sides of the stock or on one side only.


Stocks for Different Dimensions As with choosing stock for publications, it is also necessary to choose the correct stock when creating packaging and other three dimensional products. It may sound overly obvious, but it is important to decide upon a stock which is sturdy enough or that has special features, such as a degree of waterproofing. Some of the stocks which are primarily used for packaging and three dimensional products are ones such as greyboard, which is either lined or unlined board made from waste paper. Chromo, for example, is a stock with a waterproof coating on one side and is commonly used for labels, wrapping and coverings, so packaging almost always comprises of more than one different stocks. One of the things to be taken into account when choosing a stock for three dimensional products and packaging is the life span of the final product. Many packagings are designed to be ephemeral and the reusability and recyclability of stocks in packaging is currently a factor that adds different values to printed products.


This example shows the wide range of products and stocks that would have to be printed for a range of food packaging. There are not simply paper based stocks that have been used, but also a range of different plastics and then labels applied to other products. The consideration behind these stock and printing choices would have been a key element of the design process that the designers (Stockholm Design Lab) would have designed to.


Paper vs. Non Paper Based Stocks It is possible to use stock in commercial print that is not purely paper based.Virtually any material can be used as a substrate to receive a design, although each material presents different challenges with applying print, and not all are necessary for different design products. Some of the substrates that can be printed on are metal, ceramics, PVC, fabric or wood, yet the list is almost endless. Many of these substrates are used for speciality prints, such as invitations to events and so on, while others are used on a more regular basis, such as fabric and PVC which is used for signage. Other substrates that can be printed on are acetate, perspex and plastics, and many produce differing results which are often incredibly effective for large scale print jobs.


These few examples show print and different printing processes being applied to a number of different substrates, which creates a huge number of the things we see and interact with in our daily lives. Signage out in the streets and buildings, bank cards, cosmetics packagings, ceramics and business cards are a tiny number of examples of the things which are not necessarily printed straight on to a paper substrate, but which are in fact often printed as a solid object.


Print Processes


Introduction to Print Processes

Printing is a process that was invented for reproducing text and images, typically with ink on paper using a printing press. It is usually carried out as a large-scale industrial process, and is an essential part of publishing and transaction printing (submitting a job to a printing device). According to a 2005 statistic, over 45 trillion pages are currently printed annually across the world, making it one of the most used inventions the world has seen. The earliest known form of printing was woodblock printing, where existing examples have been found from China, dating to before 220 A.D. and Egypt to the fourth century. Later developments in printing include the moveble type, and the printing press (developed by Johannes Gutenberg in the fifteenth century), which was a more efficient printing process for Western languages with their more limited alphabets.w The history of printing started around 3000 BC with the duplication of images, where the method used was the use of round cylinder seals which rolled an impress onto clay tablets. This goes as far back as early the Mesopotamian civilization before 3000 BC, where they are the most common works of art, consisting of complex and beautiful images, to survive. In Europe, examples of special presentation impression prints on silk have been found dating back to before the seventeenth century. Simply put, a printing press is a device used to evenly print ink onto a print medium, or substrate, such as paper or cloth. The device applies pressure to the print medium that rests on an inked surface consisting of the image or text to be printed, which thereby transfers the ink. Typically used for texts, the invention of the printing press is widely regarded as among the most influential events in the second millennium, and was said to have revolutionionised the way people envisage and describe the world they live in.


Different Printing Processes

There is a wide range of different print processes available for both personal and commercial use within the design industry. Designers should be aware of the basics of each printing method when beginning a piece of work as the set up of documents, considerations of colour and layout and possible finishes all affect the way in which work can be printed. It is important to decide upon a printing method, and to discuss it with a printer before completing work to avoid any potential complications. The main processes used within the industry, outlined on the next few pages, are digital printing, silkscreen printing (or simply screen printing), offset lithographic printing methods, flexographic printing, rotogravure printing, pad printing, and letterpress.

Choose the method of printing most appropriate to the work that is being printed, decide upon a printer, and after discussing it with them, design to their specifications.


Digital Printing

Digital printing refers to different methods of printing from a digital based image or file directly to a variety of different media. Usually, the process refers to professional printing where small run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using large format and/or high volume laser or inkjet printers. The cost of printing digitally is generally higher per page printed than more traditional offset printing methods but this price is often cancelled out by the cost saving in avoiding all the technical steps in between, such as needing to make printing plates. It also allows for on demand printing, short turn around, and even a modification of the image (variable data) with each impression. Many different substrates can be used with digital printing, such as paper, photo paper, canvas, glass, metal, marble and other substances, and may be used for many different projects/products, such as desktop publishing (printing at home or in an office), fine art prints, printing on demand (short runs of customised prints), advertising and photo printing.


Screen Printing Screen printing, or otherwise known as silkscreen, is a printing technique which uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil, which then forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate. In its simplest form, it is the process of using a stencil to apply ink onto another material, but can also be used as a stencil method of print making in which a design is imposed, by blocking off parts of the screen in the negative image of the design to be printed, on a screen of polyester or other fine mesh, with blank areas coated with an impermeable substance, and ink is also then forced through. Layering prints from a multiple number of screens on top of each other can be used to create multi coloured images.


Graphic screen printing is widely used today to create many mass or large batch produced graphics, such as posters or display stands, where full colour images are created using CMYK inks.The actual technique of screen printing is also used on tens of thousands of different items, including decals, clock and watch faces, balloons, and many other products. The technique has even been adapted for more advanced uses, such as laying down conductors and resistors in multi-layer circuits using thin ceramic layers as the substrate.


Offset Lithographic Printing

Offset printing is a commonly used technique where the inked image is transferred (or “offset�) from aluminium plates to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. The plates are wrapped around a cylinder which enables high speed production of products such as books, magazines and newspapers, and the printers can be paper roll fed to print longer runs, or fed single sheets for one off prints. Today, lithography is the primary printing technology used in the U.S, and the Western world. and most often as offset lithography. The consistent high quality of the prints produced with this technique and the volume of prints created for their respective cost makes the use of commercial offset lithography very efficient for businesses, especially when many prints must be created. Lithographic prints are characterised by their clean and smooth prints, as well as by the lack of any impression or ring of ink or serrated edges that are characteristic of letterpress or gravure printing.


Flexographic Printing

Flexography as a process is a form of relief printing which uses a flexible relief plate, which has a positive mirror image is transferred onto its rubber polymer plate, which then transfers sticky ink directly onto the print surface. Printing press speeds of up to 600 metres per minute are achievable now with modern technology high-end printers. For maximum efficiency, the flexography presses produce large rolls of material that are then slit down to their finished size on slitting machines, and a shorter ink drying time also allows for more high speed production. It is in its most basic form, a modern version of letterpress which can be used for printing on almost any type of substrate, including plastic, metallic films, cellophane, and paper. It is widely used for printing on the non-porous substrates required for various types of food packaging, such as plastic, foil, acetate film, brown paper, and as a method it is well suited for printing large areas of colour, and can use a wider range of inks than other methods.


Rotogravure Printing

Gravure is an intaglio printing technique, where the image to be printed is made up of a series of small depressions in the surface of the copper printing plate. The cells are filled with ink and the excess is then scraped off the surface with a blade, before a rubber-covered roller presses paper onto the surface of the plate and into contact with the ink in the cells. The printing plates are usually made from copper and may be produced by digital engraving or laser etching. The plates are more durable than in other printing methods and are expensive to produce, making rotogravure a good process for longer print runs, but the process is capable of printing consistent high quality printing. Gravure printing is used for long, high-quality print runs such as magazines, mail-order catalogues, packaging, and printing onto fabric and wallpaper, and can also be used for printing postage stamps, bank notes and decorative plastic laminates, such as kitchen worktops.


Pad Printing

Pad printing, simply put, is a printing process that can transfer a 2-D image onto a 3-D object. This is accomplished using an indirect offset (gravure style) printing process that involves an image being transferred from the plate via a silicone pad onto a substrate/product. It is the process which makes it possible to print on objects that would otherwise not be able to be printed on, and is a benefit to many different industries and products, such as medical, automotive, promotional, apparel, electronic objects, appliances, sports equipment and toys. It can also be used to deposit functional materials such as conductive inks, adhesives, dyes and lubricants onto products in a quick, safe and consistent way.


Letterpress Letterpress is a form of relief printing, which involves locking movable type into the bed of a press, inking it, and rolling or pressing paper against it to form an impression. It was the normal form of printing text from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century until the 19th century and it remained as a widely used process until the second half of the 20th century. In addition to the direct impression of inked movable type onto paper or another receptive surface, letterpress is also the direct impression of inked printmaking blocks such as photo-etched zinc “cuts� (plates), linoleum blocks, wood engravings, etc., using such a press. Letterpress printing remained the primary way to print and distribute information until the different offset printing methods were developed in the twentieth century. It was also an extremely important technological innovation, making printed material available to a wider range of classes of


people. Fine letterpress work is crisper than offset litho because of its impression into the paper, giving greater visual definition to the type and artwork, and therefore a small amount of specialist high-quality art and hobby letterpress printing remains. The process requires a high degree of craftsmanship, but when done properly, letterpress excels at fine typography. It is used by many small presses that produce fine, handmade, limited-edition books, artist’s books, and high-end ephemera or memorabilia such as greeting cards. Setting type by hand has become less common with the invention of the photopolymer plate and offset printing methods, although for specialist work, letterpress printings strengths are crisp lines, patterns and typography.




An Introduction to Finishes For Print There are many different finishes touches which can be applied to a completed printed product to aid the usability of it, to complement and enhance the aesthetics or to add value to the product. Some of the main finishes that a commercial printer can add to a piece of work are ones such as different paper folds or bindings (particularly when creating publications), embossing or debossing, foil blocking, die cuts or laser cuts, or other common finishes such as perforations, duplexed stock, thermography or spot varnishes. When discussing finishes with a printer, it is important to use the correct terminology so that the appropriate finish is applied and that there are no extra costs charged for mistakes. Different printers have guidelines for different types of foldings and bindings so it is worth shopping around for a printer who will be able to complete the necessary added finishings of a project. Also, the application of these finishing touches may feel like the end of the design process, but these techniques should always be considered whilst designing and planning to enable printers to actually complete the desired effects.


Basic Paper Folding Techniques

The valley fold (above left) and mountain fold (above right) both feature a single central fold, and combined these two basic folds form the basis of a wide variety of fold combinations, allowing a designer to create a magnitude of different folded products. There are numerous different folds that can be created as variations of these shown here, simply by changing the direction the paper folds in, and the sizes and shapes of different tabs.

Gatefold A Gatefold is a single sheet with four panels that can be placed withing a publication, and therefore folded inwards so the outside panels meet at the spine of the book, allowing for more space to display images. They are a type of fold regularly incorporated into magazines.


Concertina Fold A concertina or accordian fold (above) comprises two or more parallel folds that go out in opposite directions and open out. This folding method enables many pages to be collapsed into a smaller size publication and can be read from either direction.

Boxed Step Fold A boxed step fold is one where the stock is cut away horizontally so that each panel decreases in size from the full-size panel, it is then folded in the same way as a concertina or accordian fold. There are many variations based on this type of fold, such as a staggered fplded design, ascending in width, tabbed fold design, or an incline tab fold design.


Book Binding Techniques Binding is a process which allows various pages that comprise a job to be gathered and securely fastened together so that they function as a publication. There are many different types of binding that are available, with each having their own durability, aesthetic, cost or function so it is important to choose the correct one for the publication, and to also discuss with the printers as to whether they provide a binding service.

Elastic Band Binding One simple way of binding a publication is to use an elastic band through the pages where it nestles into the centre fold. This allows for the pages to be removed, it is less of a permanent bind and is less formal than other traditional binding methods.

Saddle Stitch A very common form of binding smaller books and leaflets, saddle stitch is the binding method where signatures are nested and bound with wire or binding string through the spine along the centre fold.


Wiro, Spiral and Comb Binding These types of binding are categorised by a metal spine that passes through specially cut holes in the binding edge of the publication. These types of binding all allow a document to open flat, and the spines can be made up of either metal or plastic rings.

Self Binds Self binding is a method which enables publications to appear as if they have been bound, when in fact they have simply been folded together. An example of this is to create a concertina or accordian fold, but leaving the first two pages to fold around the rest of the folded publication, forming a front and back cover. Maps and brochures are two common examples of self bound publications, which require the reader to “rebind� the pages once they have finished using it.


Book Binding Techniques Bellyband A bellyband is a method of binding together pages of a publication or several publications or single sheets of paper by holding them together around the middle with a single printed band of paper. It is a binding technique typically used with magazines and can be used for many different purposes and in many different ways.

Singer Stitch Singer stitch is a binding method whereby the pages are sewn together with one continual thread, and is used to add a decorative touch to publications, as the thread used is available in many different weights and colours, and this bind can also be sewn in many different patterns.

Case or Edition Binding This is a common type of binding used for hardback books where signatures of pages are sewn together then endsheets are added to groups of pages, before a hard cover is applied. The spine of the book is usually rounded and grooves along the cover edge act as a hinge for the bind.


Perfect Bound Perfect, or unsewn, binding is a method that is most commonly used for magazines and paperback books, where the sections of a publication are formed into a block and the binding edge is glued with a flexible adhesive, which holds them together without the use of stitches and also attaches the cover. This method is also sometimes called cut-back binding as the binding edge is sometimes trimmed to give a greater area for the adhesive to be attached to. The sections of a book being perfect bound can be sewn together prior to being glued as a way of adding strength to the bind, although this process takes a longer time and is more costly. Side sewing is a variation of this bind where a thread is used to stitch from the front to the back of the stack of paper and this produces a much stronger bind, so it is often used when creating childrens books.


Embossing and Debossing

Embossing is the process of creating a three-dimensional image or design in paper and other substrate materials. This process is typically accomplished by applying heat and pressure with male and female dies, usually made of copper or brass, that fit together and squeeze the fibers of the substrate. This combination of pressure and heat raises the level of the image higher than the substrate, while “ironing” it to make it smooth. In printing this can be accomplished on a letterpress. Embossing used in conjunction with ink, so that the raised area is coloured, is called “colour register embossing”, embossing used in conjunction with foil stamping is called “combination


stamping” and embossing without ink, so that the image is raised but not coloured, is called “blind embossing.” “Debossing” is a similar process to embossing, but recesses the design rather than raising it. Most types of paper can be embossed or debossed, and size is not normally a consideration. The process of embossing or debossing can be used to mark legal papers and documents, and also for improving the performance of paper products like napkins, diapers, and tissue paper, as well as using the process as a design element.


Foil Blocking Foil blocking, otherwise known as foil stamping, is the application of pigment or metallic foil to artwork or printed material, and is applied by using a heated die which is stamped onto the foil, making it adhere to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper. The process can also be combined with embossing to create a more striking 3D image. Examples of items that are foil stamped include pencils, napkins, matchbooks, photographs and books, and this process is popular with wedding businesses, photography studios and other businesses that need to brand or mark products.A similar machine, called a foil fuser, creates a similar look in a process called foil fusing in which foil is fused to printer toner by means of heat.

Foil blocking is a process which can be used to replace the use of metallic inks as it provides a higher quality reflective image than printing directly with metallic inks. Different foils have different characteristics, such as colours, textures, durability, scratch resistance, fade resistance, chemical resistance, brittleness, opacity, and adherence. Foil characteristics combined with the qualities of the selected paper stock and the depth and complexity of the artwork and dies; are all variables that will influence the quality of printed products.


Die Cutting Die cutting is a process which uses a steel die (or stamp, similar to a cookie cutter) to cut away a specified section of a design, and is mainly used for decorative purposes or to enhance the visual performance of a piece. Other uses than just enhancing the aesthetics of a piece are to enable the viewer to see through certain sections of a piece or book, or to, for example, create pieces with pop ups or cut outs. Die cutting is a process often used in creating packaging, allowing the user to see parts of the product through boxes or packets without needing to open them first.

A similar method to die cutting is laser cutting. This method involves using a laser to cut shapes into the stock rather than a metal tool and can produce more intricate cut-outs with a cleaner edge. The advantage of using laser cutting over die cutting is that there is a faster turn around as it takes less time to set up, but on the other hand the laser leaves a burnt edge where it has cut out.


Other Finishes Perforation Perforation, or otherwise known as perf cutting, is a process by which a designer can add a cut out area into a design, which is weakened for it to be detached by the user, or the process can also be simply used as an aesthetic effect. A perforated effect is made using perforating blades that can be shaped into a given pattern so that the cut area of the blade slices through the stock, while the uncut segment (or tie) of the blade does not, leaving a partly cut line which the user can tear off.

Duplexing The term duplexing refers to a process where two or more substrates are bonded together to make one. This allows a designer to use stock which is one colour, stock, texture or finish on one side and a different one on the back. Duplexing is also a way of increasing the weight of a stock substrate.This effect is often seen in brochures, on fliers or is used when creating custom business cards.


Thermography Thermography is a print-finishing process similar to embossing which produces raised lettering by fusing thermographic powder to a design in an oven. It provides the text in a design with a raised, bubbly, mottled surface which is highly visible and very tactile.

UV Spot Varnish Ultra-violet cured coatings and varnishes can be applied over ink printed on paper and dried by exposure to UV radiation, they can be applied in very thin films, in small specific areas or over whole pages, and is a technique used to deepen the colour printed on a page. UV spot varnishes cost more than simple lithographic printing methods, but as with all specialist finishes, they can add great value to a printed piece or publication.


Preparations Setting Work Up For Print


Introduction to Preparing Work for Commercial Printing Having work prepared properly before beginning a print job is an incredible time saver, reduces costs for printing, while equally as importantly, minimises stress for the client, designer and printer! Planning ahead and completing check lists of preparations will keep the project under control and help avoid unnecessary mistakes in the final products. It is as simple as being thorough enough to check every little detail and making sure it is all as it should be. The pre-press processes are a range of different procedures through which the raw materials for the visual elements of a print job are created and brought together in the final design and prepared for the printing process. At this stage, any aspects of the design work which may cause problems in the later printing stage need to be addressed, and files should be set up and organised properly before it gets difficult to make changes at the later stages of the print process. The elements which need to be considered at this stage are the resolution of images, file formats, colour formats, page imposition, ink-trapping and proofing.


Setting Up A Document There are many things worth considering when beginning a piece of work which is being designed for print. Some of the things which are worth taking time to set up properly before beginning work are things such as any grids the design is being laid out to and necessary bleeds or printers marks.

Layouts and Grids

Working to a grid, for example a 6 column grid on a double page spread as shown in the image above, allows the designer to line up text and images properly and have a consistent layout throughout an entire publication or series of posters. Designing to a grid minimises the chances for surprises when work has been printed, such as misaligned text, although working to a set grid may not be necessary for every piece of work, and grids work simply as a guideline.


Bleeds and Printers Marks

Starting a new document in Adobe InDesign allows the user to select different settings for bleeds and margins on a piece of work. The bleed area allows coloured backgrounds and images to be used so that they entirely fill a space or page when being printed, rather than leaving a margin around the background space. The grey area in the image example below fills the background (pink outline) and the bleed area to ensure none of the colour will be cut off when printed.


Preparing Print Files In Adobe Creative Suite Applications Photoshop Create the file in CYMK colour mode Remember to include a bleed Add Guides to show trim area or crop marks Rasterize type Name layers clearly if using spot colours and UV varnish/ coating Rasterize vector layers Provide a layered PSD file if the job requires spots colours Most printers will accept TIFF, EPS, PSD, and PDF files created in Photoshop




Create a file with a bleed

Create the file in CYMK colour mode

Remove unused colours from the swatches panel

Remember to include a bleed

Name layers clearly if UV varnish/coating

Add Guides to show trim area or crop marks

Package the file

Rasterize type

Check colours, images and image sizes

Name layers clearly if using spot colors and UV varnish/ coating

Save Packaged folder Zip the file if it is being uploading to an online printer Most printers will accept high resolution PDFs and collective native files from InDesign

Link files and provide a folder with linked files to the printer Most printers will accept high resolution PDFs, AI, and EPS files from Illustrator


Magic Numbers This very helpful little list of numbers is a starting point for every designer to use when considering principles of design. These numbers are not a law to which designers must work, rather a set of tried and tested guidelines or starting points.

7 mm

The perfect gutter on a two or three column grid.

1.5 mm

The space after a paragraph of body text (without a line space added).

3 mm

Left-hand indent for second paragraphs.

3 mm

Text indent all round on a panel.

5 mm

A good tab amount for body text and tables.

22 mm

A standard letter’s left-hand margin.

2 pts

The amount of leading to add for comfy leading, at most smaller sizes.

7 mm

The margins around a standard business card (55 x 85mm).


The percentage increase in A sizes, i.e., A4 is 141% bigger than A5.

0.5 pt

A nice width to use for a rule (line).


Pagination and Imposition Imposition is one of the fundamental steps in the prepress printing process and is the last test that is performed before beginning the print run. It consists of the arrangement of the printed product’s pages on the printer’s sheet, in order to obtain faster printing, simplified binding and reduced paper waste. Correct imposition minimizes printing time by maximizing the number of pages per impression, reducing cost of press time and materials. To achieve this, the printed sheet must be filled as fully as possible. Where an imposition layout is viewed on screen, it may be referred to as a printer’s spread, while this is used to contrast with reader’s spread, which shows a finished printed piece on screen as it will appear to the reader, rather than the printer; specifically, in a reader’s spread for a typical book, pairs of facing pages are shown side-by-side (for example, pages 2 and 3 together). This test is performed to verify, through the formation of a prototype or mock up, that the imposition was successful. Typical checks are that the pages are on the correct spot and the crossover bleeds work. It cannot be used as a check proof for images or colors or layout because it is printed on a large, low-resolution inkjet printer. Performing a pagination or imposition check before sending to a printers will help avoid any potential mistakes or extra costs charged for the printer having to make changes to documents before printing.


Before Printing Proofing


The Importance of Proofing Work Before Printing Proofing work, checking it through and testing the different elements of a design are all an essential part of the design process. There is nothing worse than receiving the finished prints of a project and discovering one of more errors in what has come back. Such errors could range from a simple spelling or typing mistake, to things having been printed in the wrong colour, or books being bound in the wrong order. It is easy to avoid every problem like this by taking the time to check through any and every piece of work being sent to a printer by doing test prints, making mock ups (particularly of publications) and getting a fresh pair of eyes to have a look at it to spot mistakes that may not have been corrected at the first check. Some of the things that should be checked carefully are any text, whether it be body text, titles, quotes or captions, images should be in the correct resolution for printing and in the correct colour mode, and files should be saved in the correct format to be sent to the printers. It can be incredibly costly to have a printer proof read text, and having not set images and colours to the correct modes may incur extra charges as the printer would have to fix these errors before being able to print. Any finishings that are accompanying the printed work also need to be fully specified and included properly with the artwork where necessary. It is definitely worth thoroughly and properly checking through artwork before printing as most printing mistakes are completely avoidable!


Proofing Work, Packaging and Pre-Flight Checks Depending on the program being used to prepare the work that is being sent to the printers, there are different checks the computer can help with. When working in Adobe InDesign (for publications, posters, fliers, etc), the program gives alerts when certain things within the document need to be checked. This can range from text not fitting into a text box, to a missing image link. When Adobe InDesign spots a mistake in the work, an error message will flash up in the ‘Preflight’ toolbar, but it is also possible to check for mistakes within the ‘Pages’, ‘Info’, ‘Layers’, ‘Links’, ‘Separations Preview’ and ‘Swatches’ panels. It helps to avoid errors by getting into a good working practice of keeping documents and files organised; something which will also help a printed once it has been sent to them! There are also options for getting the computer to check through work when preparing it to be sent to a printer. In the options for exporting files to PDFs or when packaging files in Adobe InDesign, the program automatically lists all fonts used, the number of images and whether any of them are not in the correct modes, shows all of the information for the document. It is worth checking all of the information and links are correct before continuing to print.


Check List

All images are set to 300 dpi to be at a high enough quality to print, any images set at 72dpi need to be changed in Adobe Photoshop, also images which are set at too high a resolution will cause printing problems and increase file sizes. The links to every image used are correct and all images are packaged in the same folder. This can be checked in the Links panel of Adobe InDesign.

All images are set to CMYK mode and all colours used are also in CMYK to avoid them bring printed as a different colour,This can be checked in the Separations Preview of Adobe InDesign.

There should be no unused colour swatches saved with the document as this can cause extra printing costs by the printer having to create extra empty printing plates. This can also be checked in the Separations Preview of Adobe InDesign. The format in which the printer requires the files to be sent has to be checked, and they need to be grouped together or exported in a way which they can work with. This changes depending on the printers. All other little details, such as backgrounds filling bleed areas and text being lined up properly, need checking before sending work to a printer as it costs to have a printer proof work before printing!


Tips and Tricks For Graphic Designers


How to make life easier for yourself as a graphic designer... For a graphic designer, as with all professions, there is no right or wrong way to do anything, but when it comes to working with a commercial printer, there are many things which make the job easier. From right at the beginning of the design process, it is essential to create your own little tricks and shortcuts for the way that you work. The design process is a very individual one, yet when working with clients and printers in the commercial world, it is almost necessary to stick to their rules and work your own methods around those. It is always worth shopping around for a printer who will print what you want and designing to a printer’s specifications. Once all proofing on a document has been completed and the files are saved for sending to a printer, contact several and get more than one quote for pricing, send it off to the one with the best offer for your project and then sit back and wait for it to be completed! This chapter also contains ISO Paper Size charts and CMYK tones as a form of reference, but it is important to build up your own collection of the things which will help to make your designing life just that little bit easier.


Contacting and Choosing a Printer This is one of the biggest decisions to make when it comes to the over all success of a printed project; once the files are in the printer’s hands, the control has been given completely to them. There needs to be a level of trust developed, from the handling of files, to completing the project on time. It is important to build a relationship with the chosen printer, a relationship that evolves into trust and even friendship, and having a positive experience with a printer will probably mean they are used again. It is also rare to find a printer that can fulfill all of the print project’s needs. Once a printer has been decided upon, make sure they have received and accepted an estimate and agreed upon a deadline, then the files simply need to be delivered in the format they ask for, and possibly with a hard copy colour proof and mock up. Once the job has been put into the system it will move from the customer service area and into the prepress department.The first thing they will do is scan the disk for viruses, pre-flight the files to ensure that all of the files are workable and contain all of the images and fonts needed to print the job. There are three ways that the job can be prepared for print depending on the type of artwork supplied and the press it is going to be printed on. The files can be arranged and setup to run on a digital press, RIPed to be output to film, or the hard copy can be prepared for a small press using a paper plate. Once that decision is made, a proof will be prepared for review and approval. The plates are then placed into a large job folder and when the job reaches the end of the queue and is ready to print, the press personnel will take each plate and mount them onto the printing units with respect to the colour they represent. The sheet begins at the front of the press (the feeder area) and it is passed through the printing units moving between an impression cylinder and blanket. Each colour is printed onto the sheet and ends up at the delivery end of the press with the printed colour image. Once the sheet has the printed image on it, it is time for the finishing of the product. Finishes will then be made and then the completed printed product will be sent back.


Costing and Quotes Costings is a very important part of the commercial print process which often gets forgotten amongst the design work and is not given as much worth as a part of the process as it deserves. Being a designer is a specialised skill, so no designer should under charge for their services, but working as a printer is also a developed skill. Therefore different printers will charge different amounts for the same product to be printed. It is worth looking at different printers and getting quotes from at least three different printers before signing off a deal with the one which seems the most appropriate. Consider, also, that different stocks, processes and finishes will all have different costs. Some printers may provide a discount for more copies to be printed, so discuss with the client how many is appropriate for their needs. Keep in contact with the printers while they are completing the product to avoid having to pay for reprints, and exhaust every possibility of different techniques for reducing costs. On the other hand though, adding specialist finishes to a piece of design work adds value and worth to the piece, so ultimately it is the client’s decision as to what they are paying for and how big their budget is.


Collecting Stock and Printing Samples One trick for making a job for commercial print slightly easier is to contact a variety of different printers for sample packs. The majority of printers working within the United Kingdom supply samples of the range of products they can print, with rough prices and examples of the stock they use which are available to any potential customers who ask.



ISO Paper Sizes Chart



CMYK Colour Chart Cyan


100 %

100 %


90 %

90 %

80 %

80 %

70 %

70 %

60 %

60 %

50 %

50 %

40 %

40 %

30 %

30 %

20 %

20 %

10 %

10 %


Black (Key)

100 %

100 % 90 %

90 %

80 %

80 %

70 %

70 %

60 %

60 %

50 %

50 %

40 %

40 %

30 %

30 %

20 %

20 %

10 %

10 %


‘10 Things A Printer Wishes Designers Would Do...’ 1

Clear and comprehensive specifications

2 Always make sure you understand and read a printer’s quote details - don’t just look at the price! 3 Talk to us, we are always happy to advise how to get the best finished result from your design. 4 A printer can always find more ways of saving costs or getting more for your money. 5 Ask for schedules - it’s important to always allow enough time so the job can be produced properly. 6 Provide complete artwork, including all fonts, bleed and spot colours where necessary.


7 If your job is to be roll-folded, make sure the document size of your artwork allows for a shorter page. 8 Make sure you check your proofs very carefully - things can happen after artwork is supplied. 9 If we need to match to a previously printed job, please make sure we see it very early in the process. That way if we need to adjust paper types or offer advice, we can do it long before the press pass. 10 Have fun - a great printer and designer could be deemed a match made in heaven.

By Zoe Woods (Duncan Print)










The aim of this book is to provide an introduction to this world of commercial print, and to establish a foundation from which graphic designers can start to use the countless resources at their fingertips. by Andrea Hannah Cooper

Design For Print  

Finished book that has been sent to print

Design For Print  

Finished book that has been sent to print