A Northerner’s Guide t’ Print
INTRODUCTION ‘Ow do. This guide has been written t’ inform and enrich you with sufficient and helpful information about print, and the considerations, which will help you design with quality and precision. Printin’ is an art practiced over centuries, and it’s somethin’ that whole-heartedly supplies us with the knowledge and practice of what we know about the world. Now, with modern and traditional methods, us as creatives can use our abilities t’ enhance the quality and the aesthetics of print. Print doesn’t come without its problems, so preparin’ can be one of the most important tasks you can undergo. The format of your design, the colour, the stock, the printin’ process and the finishin’ should all be taken into consideration when startin’ t’ design. So without further a do, let’s begin!
Back in my day we ‘ad t ’ do it all by hand!
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FORMAT Now then... The format of your design is the size in which your final outcome will be. You could be designin’ for anythin’, be it a billboard, a booklet or a business card, the size has t’ be considered!
t’ understand one another when it comes t’ choosin’ a format that works best!
There are defined standard sizes in print, and these can be measured through the International ISO Standard of paper sizes. This is a universal system that allows all countries t’ print with agreed sizes, increasin’ printin’ efficiency and allowin’ printers and designers around the world
The International Standard (ISO) of paper sizes can be split into three series, A, B and C. A and B are the standard paper sizes. A is the most common, B bein’ introduced t’ add a wider variety of paper sizes t’ the system. The C series is mainly used for envelopes and they are designed t’ fit A sizes.
Other sizes t’ consider include; The American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These standardized paper sizes are in use in North America, and are usually used for letters, academic documents and newspapers. As these dimensions are only a guide, custom sizes are highly effective and can make your design individual. Producin’ custom sizes can easily be done usin’ digital software, but when it comes t’ producin’ by
hand, this can prove difficult. Paper sizes are usually created through the Golden Ratio system, which is a system that uses ratio t’ create the most desirable shape for the human eye t’ look at. When producin’ a custom size by hand I would recommend usin’ the Golden Ratio system as it effectively creates a defined size which is mathematically correct. Printin’ companies usually have specific sizes; so if somethin’ is t’ be printed professionally, always take into consideration the range of sizes they supply!
Fibonacci Spiral; a perfect spiral created by the golden ratio.
It’s about bloody time you started usin’ some structure! 06
sTOCK The paper/ stock/ or substrate you print onto is very important. Different stocks can give a completely different effect, be it through how it looks or how it feels. The impression the stock makes can give your design a sense of quality and can really improve the aesthetic. Stock can come in a huge range of different finishes and types, the most common subcategories are; Uncoated, glossy, matte or textured. Uncoated refers t’ paper that has no coat, therefore soaks up more ink, resultin’ in less colour. Uncoated paper can still be smooth or textured; it’s usually used for cheap stationary and is the most common paper used in schools and offices. Glossy paper is labeled under ‘coated’, meanin’ it has been coated with a compound which prevents ink bein’ absorbed, allowin’ the images that are printed t’ be more vibrant and sharper. Glossy paper is used for posters, photographs, flyers, magazine covers etc. Glossy paper is useful when tryin’ t’ grab attention as it can lift the colours off of the page.
Matte paper is coated, but has a lower sheen coatin’, which means it absorbs more ink than glossy paper. Matte can be smooth or rough, and glare is significantly reduced givin’ the print a softer finish. Matte can usually give off more of a professional look than glossy.
Dependin’ on the supplier, textured stock can vary. Paper can be embossed, providin’ it with a textured finish, achieved by pressin’ a pattern into the paper. Other methods can include felt markin’, linen embossin’ and laid. Havin’ texture not only provides the viewer with pleasin’ visuals but can also add an interactive element t’ the print. Textured paper can be available in glossy and matte.
There are many other specialised/ bespoke paper finishes, for example, felt finishes and leather-like finishes, but these vary by paper companies. This is also the same for coloured stock.
How smooth the stock is, the ink absorbency and the weight of the stock are all characteristics that need t’ be considered before printin’. The weight of stock is measured in grams per square metre (GSM).
Colour When designin’ for print considerin’ colour is imperative! The colour of a design can completely change the way in which the audience perceives it. By usin’ specific colours you can come across as assertive, demandin’, kind, persuasive, entertainin’, warm, cold, romantic, the list goes on!
have t’ understand that what you view on screen when you’re workin’ in RGB mode is not what your print will look like. Some software’s allow you t’ view the colours as if they were CMYK, which can be very helpful! CMYK refers t’ Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black and is used for printin’. CMYK is subtractive, meanin’ you start with white and the more colour you add the darker/ blacker the colour will be!
There are two important colour systems, CMYK and RGB. RGB refers t’ red green and blue, and is used for workin’/ designin’ on screen.
RGB uses the additive colour method, meanin’ you start with black and the more colours you mix the lighter it gets. You
As you can see, where the red meets the green, the green meets the blue, and the blue meets the red, the colours cyan, magenta and yellow have been made!
Where the cyan meets the yellow, the yellow meets the magenta and the magenta meets the blue, red, green and blue have been made. In the middle, all the colours mixed together have produced black.
When printin’ with CMYK you use what is called a four colour printin’ process, meanin’ the colour in the image is reproduced usin’ cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key). The four colour printin’ process layers small dots of each colour on top of each other in a pattern, givin’ a false sense of perception and buildin’ up a visible colour image. This is called halftonin’ !
Hexachrome Hexachrome is a six colour printin’ process, which was developed by Pantone. The process allows for a wider range of colours t’ be printed. The process adds orange and green t’ cyan, magenta, yellow and black, CMYKOG. It allows the colour gamut t’ expand, which means the colours that you can see on screen can be printed! Hexachrome printin’ isn’t as popular as ordinary CMYK and not all printers supply this service.
Pantone Cyan, magenta, yellow and black are all spot colours. Mixin’ coloured inks makes up spot colours; which are solid fields of colour directly printed onto the page. Therefore no need for the use of CMYK. It’s cheaper t’ use spot colours if you’re printin’ three shades, anymore than this and you start t’ pay significantly more; meanin’ that it’s cheaper t’ switch back t’ usin’ four-colour printin’ !
The Pantone Color System is a globally recognized colour matchin’ structure that allows people across the globe and locally t’ select specific colours for printin’, allowin’ colours t’ be matched correctly, therefore the desired shade of colour can be printed accurately!
Ay up, he’s been mixin’ his colours again...
...I’ve been tellin’ him, if he’s goin’ t’ do it, do it right! 16
Process Printin’ processes vary, with traditional and modern techniques bein’ used on a daily basis. Where as traditional methods bring a more hands-on approach, and can create vintage and quality effects, modern technology has improved the speed in which we can print, enhanced the quality, and overall made printin’ a much more effecient process. Traditional and modern printin’ methods both have their advantages and disadvantages, and both produce excellent print!
Lino cut printin’ is a real arts and craftsy method of production. It has a distinctive look and you can get a really good effect with different depths of cuts. Lino cuttin’ can be quite limited as t’ size and dependin’ on your drawin’/ cuttin’ ability the detail of your image can vary.
Usin’ specific chisels (these range in size and can be U or V shaped) cut into the lino. Always make sure you cut away from yourself as the chisels are very sharp and you don’t want t’ be cuttin’ into yourself!
#1 Cuttin’: You start with a sheet of lino, it’s soft, flexible and easy t’ cut. Make sure you’re workin’ on top of a hard surface; wooden boards are usually provided so the surface underneath isn’t marked!
Use the smaller chisels for detail and the bigger chisels t’ cut out large areas. When printed the image will be in reverse, so make sure you cut out your image in reverse, dependin’ on how you want your image.
Before startin’ t’ cut make sure you have a design that you are happy with. T’ make it easier for yourself use a simple design. You need t’ draw your idea onto the lino usin’ a pencil; the lines will be used as a guide.
#2 Inkin’: When you’ve cut out your design and are happy with it you need t’ get a pane of glass, a roller and your desired coloured ink. Layer your roller in the ink and usin’ swift movements, in one direction, roll the ink out onto the glass evenly, this should leave you with a decent layer of ink t’ work with.
Roll the ink onto your cut out lino; again do this evenly makin’ sure there’s an even layer of ink.
After the ink has been applied t’ the lino place it on the rollin’ press. Before doin’ so place some newsprint underneath t’ stop ink gettin’ everywhere and t’ stop it slidin’. Place your desired stock on top, place more newsprint on top t’ add t’ the pressure and roll it through the roller.
Lift back the sheets of newsprint and your desired image should be printed onto your stock. Dependin’ on the ink, the print may take a few rolls before the quality is enhanced. I recommend applyin’ more ink t’ the lino and puttin’ it through the press at least three times t’ get a decent image.
Silk Screen-printin’ involves printin’ a stencil/ image through a mesh screen; it allows you t’ play around with your design, your colour and your stock and you can really get up close and see how it feels and looks.
#2 Applyin’ emulsion:
Cleanin’ the screen:
When applyin’ the emulsion make sure you are in a dark room, the emulsion is light sensitive and will be ruined by long exposure t’ light!
T’ begin screen-printin’ you need t’ clean the old screen, this will get rid of the previous image and allow you t’ apply emulsion so you can expose the new image. Cleanin’ the screen should be done in your designated room or station.
Wearin’ protective gear, apply stripper (provided by staff) t’ both sides of the used screen, leave it for ten minutes and wash with a power hose. The power hose is vital as it blasts the old emulsion, dirt and image off the screen. Repeat this stage until your screen is clean. Give it a rinse with soapy water t’ clean off the stripper and any grease and leave it t’ dry for around 20 minutes.
The screen needs t’ be coated with light sensitive emulsion. T’ do so fill up a trough with the solution, place it at the bottom of your screen and drag it up until you reach the top. The emulsion needs t’ be placed onto the flat side of the screen, makin’ sure you only apply a thin layer, as too much emulsion won’t harden when exposin’ your screen!
Once you’ve applied the emulsion place the screen in a dark room and leave t’ dry.
#3 Exposin’ your image: Before exposin’ you need t’ prepare a printed image, make sure it is in black and white; the black areas will be the areas which wont get exposure t’ the light, meanin’ this area will be printed. Place your image in the light box, and place your screen, emulsion side down, on top of your image. Leave your screen t’ expose, this takes around five minutes. When your screen has been exposed the emulsion hardens, the black parts of your image stop light gettin’ t’ certain parts of the screen meanin’ the emulsion is still soft where the light has not hit.
You need t’ mix 2/3rd binder with 1/3rd of a coloured ink of your choice. With your stock and screen prepared, place a thick layer of your mixed ink at the top of the screen. Usin’ a squeegee, drag the ink down the screen t’ the bottom, repeat t’ add a thicker layer of ink. Lift up the screen and carefully remove your image. If done correctly your image should be printed with your desired colour. Place on a rack t’ dry and repeat the process!
You can make full coloured images, or two t’ three colour images, but Before you can see a difference you need t’ give the screen another each colour needs t’ be on a seperwash. Clean it until your image is ate screen. visible, place in a warm room and leave t’ dry.
#4 Printin’: Clamp your screen onto a wooden board, the clamps help straighten up your screen meanin’ more of an aligned print. Usin’ whatever stock you wish place it under the screen, and line it up with design.
Acid etchin’ or photo etchin’ is a process in which acid is used t’ bite an image into copper, which can then be inked up and printed.
#1 Preparin’ the plate:
You start with copper plate, which needs t’ be sanded down and smoothed off so it can be coated with a ‘ground’. Either by hand, or usin’ a sandin’ machine (if available), smooth off the copper plate usin’ circular motions, try and get rid of any deep scratches/ marks. Once your plate is lookin’ smooth, usin’ hot water and degreaser clean your plate. Cleanin’ your plate with degreaser gets rid of any grease, which would stop the ‘ground’ bein’ applied t’ the plate. Make sure your plate is grease free and clean before movin’ onto the next step!
You now need t’ cover the plate with an acid resistant, leavin’ a thin even layer. This layer of resistant means that when the plate is placed into your ferric chloride mixture it only bites away at your design and not the whole plate.
Once the resistant has dried you need t’ scratch your design into the plate. I’d recommend havin’ a design already prepared, you can use tracin’ paper t’ help you mark lines into the ground t’ make it easier for your t’ draw your design.
#3 Etchin’ the plate: When your design is ready, place a sheet of sticky adhesive plastic onto the back of your plate; this stops the acid bitin’ the back. The plate needs t’ be placed flat into a tray of ferric chloride. Please remember t’ wear gloves and eye protection as the solution can irritate your skin and damage your eyes! Leave the plate in the solution for 30 – 40 minutes, checkin’ it at 10-minute intervals.
When your plate is lookin’ finished (ask a technician) remove the plate from the solution and wash any remainin’ chloride off with water. Remove the adhesive from the back and give your plate a good clean and dry it off.
#5 Printin’: Lay a few pieces of newsprint down on the roller along with your inked up etchin’ plate. Remove your paper from the water and rinse off any excess residue; try blottin’ it with newsprint t’ make it less damp. Place your paper on top of the etchin’, add another few sheets of newsprint (make sure the paper is smooth with no creases!) and roll your print once through the roller. Remove the newsprint and place your finished print on the dryin’ rack!
As the ink fills the engraved copper, the paper you print with needs t’ be damp, so it can sink easily into the shape of the etchin’. Before applyin’ ink onto your plate allow the paper you will be printin’ onto t’ soak in a bath of water, this will soften it up.
#4 Applyin’ ink: Usin’ a spatula place a reasonable amount of etchin’ ink onto your plate and spread it all over usin’ a piece of cloth or card, make sure you really fill in the engraved sections as this is what is bein’ printed. Usin’ a rag remove any excess ink off the surface of the plate. Then with a thin piece of tissue paper, polish the copper plate around the areas that have not been etched until you are satisfied with amount of ink left.
After printin’ once, the ink will start t’ fade, so t’ get a decent print every time it’s worth inkin’ it again.
Digital printin’ is, as you know, a modern method, and requires no actual skill as it is all done by machines. Digital printin’ only requires a computer and a printer for you t’ be able t’ print whatever you want.
There are a few things you should know about printin’ digitally, which will help increase the quality of your prints, and allow you t’ understand why things work and some things don’t. What a lot of people tend t’ forget when digitally printin’ is that what you see on screen is not what your final print will look like! As mentioned in the chapter on colour, printin’ uses a combination of CMYK t’ produce a range of different colours appropriate t’ your printed design. When your workin’ on screen you are workin’ with RGB, so always remember t’ colour proof what you are workin’ on before printin’ t’ see how it’ll look off screen, most software’s will give you this option.
Digital printers vary massively, more expensive printers will give you a higher quality print, but this is also dependant on the quality of your paper. Some printers will also allow you t’ print double sided, which is very handy when printin’ a publication. Cheaper printers will do the job but the quality is massively decreased.
There are two types of digital printers, Inkjet and laser. Inkjet printin’ creates a digital image by propellin’ tiny droplets of ink onto the paper. Laser printin’ uses a combination of lasers, toners and heat pressin’ t’ transfer your digital image onto the paper.
Inkjet printers are practical as the initial price is cheap, they are efficient and they can print high quality. The only down side is that ink cartridges cost a lot of money.
When printin’, never just click file > print > ok. Take your time through the settin’s; check the scale is correct as the printer can sometimes change this t’ fit its suitability. Addin’ crop marks, registration marks, colour bars and page information will allow you t’ cut your design with precision, they allow you t’ check the colour and display the document information down the side of the print.
Laser printers can also be cheap; they are very fast and again print out high quality. The downside, if a file is too big and the printer can’t handle the document size, it will not print.
If you are ever gettin’ a design digitally printed from a professionall printin’ company, always talk t’ the printers. They will inform you on how you should save your document, what size and what printer marks you should add.
Offset printin’ is a very common printin’ technique and is used t’ mass-produce a lot of common material; newspapers, magazines, leaflets, brochures, stationary etc.
The ink is distributed t’ the plates through a series of rollers. On the press, the plates are dampened, first by water rollers, and then ink rollers. The rollers distribute the ink from the ink fountain onto the plates.
OFFSET Offset involves an inked image bein’ transferred from a plate t’ a rubber blanket, then onto the printin’ surface. It’s highly efficient and can produce amazin’ quality. Plates for offset can be quite expensive; if you are workin’ with CMYK you’ll need a plate for each colour. If you have added spot colours these plates will also need t’ be separate.
The image area of the plate picks up ink from the ink rollers. The water rollers keep the ink off of the non-image areas of the plate. Each plate then transfers its image t’ a rubber blanket that in turn transfers the image t’ the paper. The plate itself does not actually touch the paper, thus the term “offset” lithography. All of this occurs at an extremely high speed.
Ink rollers Water rollers Plate Cylinder Paper
Offset Cylinder Impression Cylinder
After the print is finished it is run through a series of machines that, dry it, colour check it, cut it and fold it into its final form. The colour check and the cuttin’ and foldin’ are sometimes done by hand.
Offset can produce thousands of your desired design in minutes, and once one plate has been made it can be printed again and again and again.
Advantages of Offset: It prints clear, smooth and sharp image and text. The machine can conform t’ a wide variety of printin’ substrates so you have a huge choice of what t’ print onto, and it’s always goin’ t’ print out high quality. With other printin’ processes, a lot of them leave behind small indentations. Offset is smooth and flat, so know impressions are made. It’s very, very fast; this is especially good for big batches of printed material. For mass printin’ it’s extremely cheap, and the cost is usually only down t’ the settin’ up process. Disadvantages of Offset: If you are printin’ a small batch it tends t’ be quite expensive because of the plate set up.
FINISH UV coatin’, die cuttin’, embossin’/ debossin’ , foilin’ and flockin’ are all part of the finishin’ design process. They are added elements t’ your design that enhance the aesthetic quality, for your benefit and that of the user. *For preparation of Spot varnishin’, foilin’ and flockin’ please see page 22! When preparin’ a screen there are two types, fabric and paper screens. Fabric screens are used for foilin’ and flockin’, paper screens are used for UV spot and screen-printin’.
UV coating UV coatin’ is the process of applyin’ a varnish t’ your finished product, either in one spot t’ highlight a specific point, or all over t’ stop ink rubbin’ and keepin’ the paper from wrinklin’. UV coatin’ is usually applied t’ the finished product. UV spot is where a section of your print is given a glossy or matte look, which helps it stand out from the rest of your design. After preparin’ a screen, and choosin’ your stock, you will need t’ get your UV spot varnish and layer it across the top of the screen. Similar t’ pullin’ the ink down the screen, do the same with the spot varnish. It’s best t’ spot varnish onto coated paper as uncoated paper tends t’ soak up a lot of the UV ink leavin’ it without the shiny aesthetic. Spot varnish is most commonly done on a more professional level with machines.
Die cut Die cuttin’ is the process of cuttin’ out large quantities of an intricate or simple shape from the substrate you are workin’ with. A special blade is crafted into the shape of your desired pattern, or object, this is called the die. It’s then placed into the machine with your desired stock and can cut out thousands of the exact same shape in minutes. Die cuttin’ can be used t’ cut wood, plastic, paper metal or fabric.
embossing/ debossing Embsossin’ and debossin’ is a process where an image is pressed into your stock t’ either leave a raised or indented mark. The process involves usin’ a heat press t’ push your raised image into the paper. The pressure and heat of the press allow the stock t’ mold around the raised object leavin’ an indent in the paper. Embossin’ leaves your paper raised, and can be used t’ give volume t’ a logo or text, or for givin’ texture t’ the whole of your stock. It lifts your design from the paper, and helps it stand out from the rest of the page. It is often twinned with foilin’, and can give off a very professional feel. Debossin’ gives the same impression but leaves an indent instead.
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foiling and flocking Foilin’ and flockin’ are two finishin’ processes that use a combination of heat and glue t’ transfer either coloured foil or flock onto specific parts of your design. Foilin’ leaves you with a shiny surface and if done well can give your work a sense of quality; it is often used with embossin’.
Flockin’ Flockin’ leaves your design with a raised, soft, furry feel and is great for the aesthetic of your design. After preparin’ your screen, in the same way you would with screenprintin’, use the squeegee t’ spread the ink onto your stock, you use a glue solution instead of ink. After lettin’ the heat press get t’ around 60°, place your glued paper in-between two pieces of newsprint, along with either your flock or foil.
Foilin’ If you are usin’ flock, it has t’ be placed facin’ down onto your glued area, if your usin’ foil you have t’ place it shiny side up. Pull the heat press down and leave for about 10 seconds. Safely remove your paper from the press and let it cool down. You can then peal away either your flock or foil and you should be left with a lovely lookin’ print!
Flocking? Oh aye, the sheep are always flocking. 34
Terminology Aesthetic - Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty. Bespoke - (of goods, in this case paper) made to order. Binder - A substance used to make other substances or materials stick or mix together. Blotting - Dry (a wet surface or substance) using an absorbent material. Chisel - A carving tool that has a small, usually flat, metal tip and a narrow handle, used for carving shapes and details. CMYK - The CMYK color model is a subtractive color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four inks used in some color printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (Black). Coating Trough - A piece of equipment used to accurately and evenly apply a coat of emulsion to the screen. Compound - A thing that is composed of two or more separate elements; a mixture Copper - A reddish metallic material used in the etching process. Emulsion - A photosensitive coating, usually of silver halide grains in a thin gelatin layer, on photographic film, paper, or glass. Gamut - The complete range or scope of something. Golden Ratio - The golden ratio is a special number approximately equal to 1.618. It appears many times in geometry, art, architecture and other areas. Glossy - Shiny and smooth. GSM - The gram weight of a hypothetical square meter of a particular type of paper, a good comparative measure because it does not vary with sheet size.
Halftoning - Halftone is the reprographic technique that simulates continuous tone imagery through the use of dots, varying either in size, in shape or in spacing. Hexachrome - Hexachrome was a six-color printing process designed by Pantone Inc. Light box - A flat box having a side of translucent glass or plastic and containing an electric light, so as to provide an evenly lighted flat surface or even illumination. Lino - The soft material used for Lino printing. Matte - Dull and flat; without a shine. Newsprint - Cheap, low-quality absorbent printing paper made from coarse wood pulp and used chiefly for newspapers. Pantone - A system for matching colours, used in specifying printing inks. RGB - The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. Screens use the colour mode RGB. Roller - A roller that has a hard rubber surface used for spreading ink. Silk-screen - A screen of fine mesh used in screen-printing. Squeegee - A scraping implement with a rubber-edged blade set on a handle, used for pulling the ink onto the screen. Stock - The material you print onto. UV - Ultraviolet.
Oh ‘eck, I’m supposed t’ remember all that?!