Page 1









Print Process







When we mix colours using paint, or through the printing process, we are using the subtractive colour method. Subtractive colour mixing means that one begins with white and ends with black; as one adds colour, the result gets darker and tends to black.

CMYK Subtractive Colour

RGB Additive Colour If we are working on a computer, the colours we see on the screen are created with light using the additive colour method. Additive colour mixing begins with black and ends with white; as more colour is added, the result is lighter and tends to white.




CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black). It is named Key because the other printing plates are keyed or aligned with the key of the black key plate.


When you look at images up close you can see it’s made up of tiny dots. This is called half tone printing. Colour is semi transparent so when layered over the top of one another it makes a spectrum of the rainbow.


Make sure when designing for print that you are always working in CMYK.


DPI stands for Dots Per Inch. This is the number of individual dots that can be placed in a line within the span of 1 inch. Images for printing are normally about 300dpi whereas on screen they are 72 dpi.


CMYK dots make up the image

The four-colour printing process produces colour images from different sized half-tone dots of cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink, which combine to fool the eye into seeing a continuous toned image.



RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. This is light which is added together in different ways to create an array of colour.This model comes from the three primary colours. The main use of RGB is for screen based image.


RGB colours are a lot brighter than CMYK so if you are working on the computer in RGB then print, your images will come out a lot duller.

The RGB colour space can reproduce about 70 per cent of the colours in the spectral gamut that can be perceived by the human eye.




Monotone is using only one colour to

Duotone is using two colours to cre-

create an image using different tones.

ate an image. This image is made up

of that colour The benefits of using one

of a blue and red. As you can see this

colour is that you can still use images in

image has quite a more drastic effect

your design but can cut down on print

than monotone. Again if your design is

costs by using a spot colour instead of

made up of only two colours to cut

cmyk. This means that you only have

down on cost then you can still have

to produce one plate rather than four

effective images. You can create images

that would of made up the different

in tritone and quadtone also.

colours of CMYK.


Spot Colour

Spot Colour is generated by an ink (pure or mixed) that is printed using a single run. Many different reference systems exist for spot colours but the most well known is Pantone. Spot colours give more options of colours to choose from then CMYK. You can choose from metallic and fluorescent inks. The Pantone Colour Matching System is a standardized colour reproduction system. By standardising 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.



Pantone Formula Guide /Solid Coated Each is labelled with its own unique identifier showing what paper the ink is printed on. C - Coated U - Uncoated M -Matte Next to the Pantone colour is the formula mixes in both parts and percentages. This is the recipe using the basic 14 to create each colour. If there is a series of dots underneath the Pantone number it means the colour can be accurately reproduced in four colour offset printing. The colour is within the CMYK colour space. Always specify in your document if your using spot colour by adding it to the swatch palette.

This contains 1089 Pantone colours. to the colour bridge Right next to the solid colour is the closest matching CMYK version of that colour. The process colour names end with either a PC suffix or for the European community an EC suffix. Use the colour bridge to fine tune your designs. While the formula guide identifies whether the colour can be reproduced in CMYK the colour bridge actually shows it. You can see if the process colour will be close enough or if you’ll have to specify a spot colour. Underneath the swatches are the RGB values used for the spot colour. These values provide the best possible match across the widest range monitors for on screen viewing. There are also HTML hexadecimal colour values for web designing.

Pantone Colour Bridge /Solid Coated



Paper Sizes

The most common paper size is the A series (ISO), This is the international paper size standard. Then there is the B series which is the size in between the A series sizes for example, B1 is in between A1 and A0. The C series is used only for envelopes. The area is the geometric mean of the areas of A and B series sheets of the same number for example a letter written on A4 fits inside a C4 envelope which fits inside a B4 envelope. There is also a format size for Broadsheet and Tabloid which are used for things like newspapers. The traditional paper sizes are mostly of British Origin but have mostly been replaced by the modern ISO. They used to have names such as Elephant and Crown. The diagram for A series sizes.




A SERIES mm x mm

B SERIES mm x mm

C SERIES mm x mm

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

1189 x 841 841 x 594 594 x 420 420 x 297 297 x 210 210 x 148 148 x 105 105 x 74 74 x 52 52 x 37 37 x 26

1000 x 1414 707 x 1000 500 x 101 353 x 500 250 x 353 176 x 250 125 x 176 88 x 125 62 x 88 44 x 62 31 x 44

917 x 1297 648 x 917 458 x 648 324 x 458 229 x 324 162 x 229 114 x 162 81 x 114 57 x 81 40 x 57 28 x 40




2. 3.

Popular Paper Sizes and Printing Formats

1. Business card 2. A4 Letterhead 3. Bookmark 4. CD Inserts and Covers 5. Postcard 6. DL* with Comb Slip


90 mm X 54 mm 210 mm X 297 mm 46 mm X 210 mm 120 mm X 120 mm 103 mm X 146.5 mm 210 mm X 96 mm

* DL (Dimension Lengthwise) Envelope – A4 in thirds


We are all familiar with a wide range of formats, mainly for ergonomic reasons: a poster needs to be large enough to be read from a distance; a stamp needs to be small enough to fit on an envelope; a book needs to be big enough for text to print at a readable size but small enough to be held comfortably in the hand. Because of its almost exclusively utilitarian nature and due to the use of many generic formats, format can therefore sometimes be overlooked by designers. The format of a piece of design provides the physical point of contact with the user that crucially affects how users receive the printed communication. Even though printed matter is often predisposed to be of a certain size, shape, extent and weight you can use format to vary these elements to add extra dimension to your work.


Print isn’t just publications. It can be window displays, billboards, point of sale displays, information and way finding systems, banners down the side buildings and so on.


STOCK 23-32 PG

Stock Coated





Is paper with a coating applied to one or both sides. Available in gloss, silk or matte finis, it has better reflectivity than uncoated paper, producing sharper, brighter images. It’s used to print brochures, leaflets & posters and a wide range of design for print formats, especially high volume print runs.

Is paper that does not have any kind of coating. Not having a coating means this stock is not as smooth as a coated page. It is often more absorbent than coated paper. Premium quality uncoated paper is used for business stationery, and commonly used in laser printers.

Paper made on a closely woven wire roller or mould and having a faint mesh pattern. Wove is popular for stationery and book publishing. It is premium quality paper with a uniform surface, not ribbed or textured like laid paper.

Laid is premium quality paper with a textured pattern of parallel lines imparted by the manufacturing process that give it a characteristic watermark. It is commonly used for business stationery.

A durable, economic, uncoated wove paper with a weight greater than 50gsm, often used for copying or laser printers. A higher quality bond stock can be used for letterheads.





Normal practice to specify the weight of paper in GM or GSM abbreviations for ‘grams per square metre’. This indicates the weight of paper or other stock. Paper’s GSM rating is a good guide to how ‘thick’ or ‘stiff it will feel but always ask for paper samples if you’re not sure. Card or ‘board’ as it is usually called in the industry is sometimes measured in microns, a micron is 1000th of a millimetre.

It prevents unwanted white borders around edges of a printed document. It is not possible to print all the way to the edge of the paper sheet. To achieve this effect it is necessary to print a larger area than is required and then trim the paper down. Bleed is an essential part of creating artwork for print. You should always extend the design elements and images beyond the edges of the document by 3mm.

“Every great design begins with an even better story.” — LORINDA MAMO


TIP Talk to your print and paper suppliers they have a great knowledge of stocks, weights, ink lifts, and how much each element will add to the job. It’s free to get their advice and they can help you come up with a good, cost-effective solution. Be honest with them about your budget and be clear about what you expect to achieve. Use their expertise and knowledge to your advantage.

Choosing the paper can be one of the most important decisions you make for a piece of printed design, not only from a cost, but also from a quality point of view. It can be a real challenge as there are so many things to take into consideration, for example, ink lift, weight, finish, and, of course, financial outlay. Different papers can create different colour tones when printing. Even if you use exactly the same artwork as a previous job, the paper can affect the way it looks and feels. Ink sits on top of coated papers (silk, gloss, and matte), but sinks into uncoated papers (offset), resulting in a duller colour. Today there is a huge range of papers available, and it is worth having a little knowledge about them so that you can make an informed decision as to what will work best for your budget. Following is a list of the most common types of paper, along with their benefits and drawbacks.


Gloss-Coated Gloss papers are usually coated in china clay to give them a high shine and smooth appearance. One benefit of using a gloss-coated paper is that the ink lift is excellent, which gives great definition to illustrations and photography and makes flat colour very vibrant. Another is that it dries very well and is unlikely to need a sealer to prevent it rubbing off.There are, however, some drawbacks to using a gloss: it is sometimes prone to cracking when it is folded, and it can also be prone to marking due to its high shine.

Silk-Coated Silk-coated papers sit somewhere between uncoated and gloss papers and can be a good compromise. A silk has a lower surface shine than a gloss and a less textured finish than a matte. You will still get a good ink lift from a silk, but the colours will not be as vibrant as on a gloss. Inks do not dry or harden as well on a silk as on a gloss and therefore require a sealer varnish, which will add slightly to the print costs.

Recycled Recycled papers have become more popular in recent due to their environmental credentials.

Uncoated Uncoated paper is also known as offset paper. Typically, it has a more textured feeling than any of the coated stocks and this can be used for deliberate effects in a print project. The ink lift is not as strong as on any of the coated papers; more of the ink soaks in, which means images will not appear as defined as when printed on a coated stock. This also means that jobs can take longer to dry, which should be taken into account in scheduling.

Homemade For very short-run projects, make your own paper. This can be a fun and cost-effective way to create a unique look and feel for your job. It is unlikely that you will be able to supply homemade paper for a printer to use, but you can screen-print or rubber-stamp onto it.

TIP Remember to take time at the start of your project to go through your paper options and discuss this with your clients. Find out what sort of paper they are expecting and what they are willing to pay for. Choosing the correct weight and finish could save you money. If you are specifying an uncoated paper, show your client a sample to make sure they understand that the finished job will not be glossy.


TIP Most papers over 170gsm will need to be scored prior to folding. This adds to the finishing costs of a job as it is a separate process; on a large print run it can add a significant amount to the final bill If you are printing a simple, folded promotional flier, does it need to be on thick card? Can you run it on 150gsm stock and save money?

Almost all the large paper companies have swatch books of the papers in their range. These are a very useful thing to have in your design studio as they have examples of different print finishes and different weights to let you see how the paper handles. These swatch books (supplied free by the paper manufacturers) usually contain useful technical information about the paper—for example, whether it is laser safe, FSC accredited, etc. Your paper company can also give you a good idea of where the stock is placed price-wise and what it is most commonly used for, i.e., for stationery, brochures, etc. This will help you see what other people use it for and is a good indicator of a reliable, affordable product. Some paper companies and printers will have samples of printed jobs to show you the quality achievable, and will be able to tell you what that job cost to produce. Seeing a sample can often help you weigh up quality of finish against cost.


Paper Weights The density of all types of paper and paper board is expressed in terms of grams per square meter (gsm). Typical office paper is 80gsm, which is quite an affordable, versatile weight. The heavier the paper, the fewer your printing options, and the greater the printing costs. Paper weight is a very important element in a design job and careful selection of Bits can save you money. If a job doesn’t have many pages, it can be beneficial if you spec the whole job on the same weight and incorporate self cover in the design. Postal costs should be taken into consideration; if the client is sending a brochure, they will be charged according to the weight of the package.


Preparation Preperation

1. Document Set Up Always make sure you set up your document appropriately to your project including the correct bleed. 2. File Format and Fonts Make sure your file is in the correct format to print e.g.. JPEG, PDF. It’s also important to have all your fonts for the printer because they might not have them on there database and it will cause difficulties with your design and print. 3. Spell Check Make sure you check your document for spelling errors and punctuation to avoid reprints.



4. Colour Specification Go through with the printer what colours you want to use for example if you want to have three colours in your design but only have the budget to print with two this is called an overprint. Tell the printer that you want to print with the selected two colours. Best way to show the printer what colours you want to print with is using a swatch palette, this way you can specify spot colour to. 5. Printer Marks Add your crop marks to your design so the paper can be cut to produce the correct page size. You may also want to print your registrations so you can correlate the overlapping colours on one single image. 6. Pre-flight Check This will spot what you haven’t before you print.




7. Mock Ups If necessary then create a mock up of your print so you can show the client or yourself to work out any tweaks before the final print run. This won’t be with the decided stock but take a sample to show the client. 8. Proof You may want to do a proof run at the printers with the decided stock. 9. Sign Off Always get the client to sign off before the print run otherwise if something goes wrong and it’s not the colour they wanted or the spelling isn’t correct you could end up with an expensive bill.



Print Processes Explained




Is an “offset” printing technique, ink is applied to the printing plate to form the “image” and then transferred or “offset to a rubber “blanket”. The image on the blanket is then transferred to the substrate to produce the printed product. Lithography is mainly used by commercial printers, printing companies that will print thousands of copies of the same item, in one production run. Lithography machines can print on both sides of paper/card and they rely on CMYK.

Is an intaglio method of printing, meaning that the pictures, designs and words are engraved into the printing plate or printing cylinder. Positives are then made from the negatives and the images are transferred to the printing surface by use of carbon tissue covered with light-sensitive gelatin hardening it based on light that passes through the positives. The plate is then bathed in acid, which eats through the gelatin squares. On the printing press, the deepest cells retain the most ink and the darkest tones.

Is a form of rotary web letterpress, combining features of both rotogravure and letterpress printing, using relief plates comprised of flexible rubber or photo-polymer plates and fast drying, low viscosity solvent, water-based or UV curable inks fed from a two roller inking system. Flexographic presses are capable of producing good quality impressions on many different substrates and is the least expensive and simplest of the printing processes used for decorating and packaging print.




The main differences between digital printing and traditional methods are that no need to replace printing plates in digital resulting in a quicker and less expensive turn around time. The most popular methods include inkjet or laser printers that deposit pigment or toner onto a wide variety of substrates such as photo paper, canvas, glass and metal. In many of the processes the ink or toner does not permeate the substrate, as does conventional ink, but forms a thin layer on the surface.

Transfer pad printing, known as pad printing, is an “indirect offset gravure” printing process. The image to be printed is created on the printing plate, normally by chemical etching. The etching is filled with ink; the silicone rubber printing pad picks up ink from the etching and transfers it to the object to be printed. As the pad makes contact with the object and compresses the print surface of the pad rolls across the object and the ink attaches itself to the surface of the object.

Screen printing is a printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The attached stencil forms open areas of mesh that transfer ink or other printable materials which can be pressed through the mesh as a sharpedged image onto a substrate. A fill blade or squeegee is moved across the screen stencil, forcing or pumping ink into the mesh openings for transfer by capillary action during the squeegee stroke. A number of screens can be used to produce a multicoloured image.


Print Lithography

Advantages • Consistent high image quality • Quick and easy production of printing plates • Cheapest method for producing high quality prints Disadvantages • Time and cost associated with producing plates and printing press setup Uses • Commercial printing • Quick printing • Newspapers • Books


Advantages • Printing cylinders that can last through large volume runs without getting worn out • Good quality image reproduction • Low per-unit costs running high volume production Disadvantages • High start-up costs: hundreds of thousands of copies needed to make it profitable • Rasterized lines and texts • Use of chemicals in the ink. Uses • Most popular printing process used in flexible packaging manufacturing, because of its ability to print on thin film such as polyester, OPP, nylon, and PE


Print Flexography

Advantages • It is a relatively simple operation• Quick and easy production of printing plates • It is easily adapted to the use of water-based inks Disadvantages • Text/image must be reversed, not suitable for detailed images like photos Uses • Publication flexography - production of newspaper, comics, directories, newspaper inserts, and catalogues. • Packaging flexography - production of folding cartons, labels and packaging materials.


Advantages • Quicker and less expensive turn around time • No need to replace printing plates in digital • Can do short runs for personalised printing or short run books of varying page quantities and binding techniques. Disadvantages • Digital printing is mainly designed to print small numbers of documents • The result of offset printing can contain more saturated and richer colours than digital printing produce. Uses • Advertising – often used for outdoor banner advertising and event signage, in trade shows, in the retail sector at point of sale or point of purchase, and in personalized direct mail campaigns. • Photos – digital printing has revolutionized photo printing in terms of the ability to retouch and colour correct a photograph before printing.


Print Pad

Advantages • Can form itself onto an object with an uneven surface • Able to print shapes and surface structures well outside the capabilities of Screen Printing • Capable of 90 degree wrap around on objects Disadvantages • Motive sizes are limited by plate, pad and efficiency of the pad printing machine • Layer thickness of ink film • Printing speed Uses • Printing on 3D objects • Promotional material • Stationary


Advantages • Surface does not have to be printed under pressure, unlike etching or lithography • Different inks can be used with a variety of materials • Cheapest method for producing high quality prints Disadvantages • The amount of time it takes to set up a job Uses • Balloons • Clothing • Decals • Medical devices • Printed electronics circuit board printing • Product labels • Signs and displays • Snowboard graphics • Textile fabric • Thick film technology



Foiling Foil stamping gives the stamped design a shiny finish using a metallic sheet which is heat pressed onto the paper. Emboss/Deboss Debossing and embossing are techniques used to imprint images onto paper, leather, or vinyl. In embossing, an image is pressed into the material so that the image raises from the surface. Debossing is the opposite of embossing; the area around the image is pressed so that the image is pushed down into the material rather than raised. Spot Varnish A varnish is a liquid coating applied to a printed surface to add a clear glossy, matte, satin, or neutral finish. Spot Varnish is applied to chosen spots (areas), of a printed piece. This has the affect of highlighting and drawing attention to that part of the design.

Lamination Is a thin plastic coating heat sealed onto the paper. It creates a smooth and impervious finish and is highly durable.



Printing Finishes

Finishing; general term used to define anything done to a print after it is printed.

There are many things involved in finishing a print. It may include trimming, scoring or folding. Other finishes are die cutting or binding. Die cutting is a manufacturing process used to generate large numbers of the same shape from a material. Binding is the way a book or publication is put together whether that be a saddle stitch, thermal tape or with hard cover. This decision should come from the amount of content and the purpose of the publication.



COST 55-57 PG


Cost Make sure that you get three quotes from different printers when looking to print to make sure your getting the right price. It is also useful to look at unit cost and there minimum quantity to print as some printers will require a certain amount to print something. If the client wants a proof of the final print then confer this with the printers also. Another thing is to make sure that the delivery and dispatch of the print is included in the pricing otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of heavy printed material in the wrong location.


Enjoy print.

Print Manual  
Print Manual  

A manual telling you everything you need to know to design for print.