Friday our AIGA Student Group went to Pasadena for a tour at Typecraft Lithography. Weren't able to make it? Here are the outstanding notes that Aileen Tu took at the tour. It goes to show all that you can learn and enjoy when you participate in our events! Thanks to Shirin Raban and David Mayes for coordinating this event for our students.
And, a big thank you to Aileen for all the details below!
UCLAx Design Studio Tour: Typecraft Lithography
Date & Time: Friday, January 14, 2011, 3-5 pm
Location: Typecraft Lithography
2040 East Walnut
Pasadena, CA 91107
Contact: David Mayes
◦ Printing is a collaborative effort. Develop a relationship with your printer.
◦ Ask questions in the beginning. You need to know what you can and can't do and what the printer can and can't do.
◦ If a printer doesn't want to answer questions and discuss the project beforehand, you might want to think twice about using that printer.
◦ If you just give the printer a finished product, it might end up being more expensive than you realized.
◦ If you work together early on, the printer can show you what techniques are available for the look you want and the costs involved. There's still time to adjust your designs at this time if you need to.
◦ The farther into a job you are, the more expensive it will be to make changes.
◦ You will probably have a range of printers—cheaper printers, high-end printers, etc.—depending on the project.
Color Conversion◦ Sometimes presses will ask you to send them information in RGB (even if they are not a digital press) because they can convert RGB to CMYK and give it a richer color because they have better algorithms for the conversion. They can preserve more of the extra RGB info than if you were to do the conversion on your home computer.
◦ It's good to ask printers if they want you to use a Standard Profile or Press Profile to convert RGB to CMYK. Printers may have a specific RGB to CMYK conversion profile. It's best to use the printer's profile because it is specific to the presses they use and you will be able to see a proof with colors that are closer to the actual printed outcome.
Digital Printing◦ In addition to traditional printing presses, Typecraft has a digital press, an HP Indigo press 5500. This press can use liquid inks and the prints look much better than colors you see in color photocopies. The color looks better because the ink sits up top.
◦ The maximum size for the digital press at Typecraft is 12 x 18.
◦ For traditional printing, the initial setup cost is higher, but the more prints you make, the cheaper the cost per print gets.
◦ For digital printing, the initial setup cost is cheaper, but the cost per print stays the same. This is why it is not cost-effective to use digital if you are printing more than around 1,000 prints.
◦ A benefit with digital printing is that you can change each page. You can print a book block if you want to. This can be helpful if you want to customize your marketing. It seems that companies get a higher response when they customize their marketing.
Specifications◦ Develop clear specifications for the printers to bid on.
◦ We are free to modify the specs David provided for our own work.
◦ Be aware of the term commercially acceptable. Machines may not be as precise each time and will generally have some slight variations. Be aware of this when you design. For instance, if you design too close to the edge, there is a possibility of
the design being cut off.
Estimation◦ It's easy to request several options, but it can take hours for a printer to come up with an estimate. They are basically going through the job as though it were real, calling vendors, etc. so that when you give the OK, the job is ready to go.
◦ Respect the printer's time by asking for a couple of bids at most.
◦ Changes almost always happen at proof, but the printer's estimates don't include this in their price. Printer's quote you their best price before any adjustments.
◦ Sometimes printers will change the specs for one reason or another. It is important that you read your quote to make sure it is correct.
◦ Don't assume a process is included if it is not in the quote.
◦ It's important to get the client (not you, the designer) to sign off on everything. You want the client to be responsible.
What Can Go Wrong in Files
◦ It costs the designer money if a file is wrong and has to be fixed.
◦ There should be general file preparation info on the internet.
◦ Open type fonts should be OK now at the printers, but you should check.
◦ Some fonts have licensing protection, so there is a rule that technically, printers are supposed to throw out the font right after your print job.
◦ Designers should be aware of trapping, but the printer generally doesn't want the designers to do any trapping. When two colors are put next to each other, they might overlap or there might end up being a space in-between colors. Trapping takes
the lighter color and spreads it under the darker color so you don't get any air (space). Another form of trapping is called ink trapping, which is related to how inks lay on top of each other.
◦ Metallic colors don't trap well, so it's necessary to do less ink than normal or else you can get a funky edge.
◦ Fluorescent and metallic colors don't overprint well.
Renewable Resources◦ Soy ink in David's opinion is OK, but not necessarily more fantastic than other similar renewable ink options.
◦ Typecraft uses some inks that have a lot of vegetable oil, but can also special order soy ink.
◦ Typecraft has FSC Certification (Forest Stewardship Council) – Certification that the forests where the paper comes from are well managed and sustainable.
◦ If you use a FSC printer and FSC paper, then you can put a FSC seal on your work if you want to.
Things to Check Before the Client Signs Off on a Job
◦ Contract Color Proof – the closest to what the colors and overall final product will look like on the printer's presses
◦ Digital Blueline (aka Imposition proof) – the proof for mechanical aspects such as cut and fold.
◦ Page Proof – the mechanical proof
◦ Make sure your clients sign off on a printer proof, not one that comes from your home printer. It won't look the same and you don't want to show something that you can't deliver.
◦ You should fix your designs before the proof. If you fix them after the proof, then you are make the printer do more work, which costs you more money.
◦ Make sure to print out your design and look at it on paper because the ink may spread, etc.
◦ An envelope has different layers so you need to keep this in mind in relation to where your design is or else your design may get pressed unevenly.
◦ Be aware that the printer's file is typically the most current file because they do some tweaking to it. If a designer decides to redo or rerun something, it is better to communicate with the printer and get their file first, especially if you want to make changes.
◦ Converting to Outlines does add some weight, but there's a way to prevent it in Illustrator. Give it a high pixel (ex. 2400 dpi), then Command + Shift + O. This keeps the weight. It was a trick Shirin learned from a printer.