Scanning & Image Discipline
Designing is only part of the challenge
Most people these days have their own scanning equipment and do a fair job. However, for high-end jobs, or jobs involving color transparencies, we recommend having the printer's prepress department scan and color correct your images for you.
They will do a better job, and they can be held responsible for it. If the color isn't right, they rescan, not you.
Help the scanner do the job right
Indicate where photos will be placed, and cropped by using FPO scans in the layouts instead of final scans. (FPO is "for position only.") Place a white-filled text block label over each one with "FPO" marked clearly - then "group" the label to the photo.
If you attempt to do your own scanning and color correction, make sure you know and understand exactly what your printer needs. Ask them.
- Scan images at the final size required for the project. (This will require a test scan to establish scaling.)
- Rotation, Crop, and Scale must be exact.
- Use a resolution at least 2.5 times (250%) the line-screen your printer will use. (Read our "Tips" section in Photoshop Tips & Tricks for some detailed tips for this.)
- Understand HOW to use your scanner. You will be required to set the White-point and Black-point in the scan according to your scanner software. (This is a somewhat cryptic operation and we strongly recommend your getting help on this one.)
- Above all: Let your printer separate all color images. If you do it yourself, then you MUST have your printer instruct you on setting up your own CMYK separation set-up.
- Always use the EPS format for all grayscale and color photos
Always remember that the monitor only approximates photo appearance. Proof carefully.
If you do not have color laser proofing in house, then utilize Adobe Acrobat to produce a .pdf file and print that file at your local Kinkos or other service bureau. You should have a good idea on how you are doing BEFORE the job goes to the printer.
In most cases, it's most recommended to have the printer proof it for you. They will analyze it and point out trouble areas.
Eventhough the printing world has almost completely converted to electronic transmission and pre-press, there are still certain rules and protocols to which your pages must adhere. Learn these and make sure they are correct on every job you send.
1. Bleeds: If any item on your page touches the edge of the final printed sheet, your art should extend .125" (one eighth to a pica) beyond the edge of the paper. Any graphics that will bleed must have extra, non-critical image area on the edge that will bleed. If it is an electronic file, the bleed area must be provided for in the page set-up. It is impossible to have a letter-size page bleed if the page set-up indicates an 8.5 x 11 page.
2. Folds: Fold marks are dotted lines. They should be indicated just outside the edge of the final paper edges, and beyond the bleed indication. Make sure they line up, and are positioned correctly on the paper.
Rule of thumb: Print your project with fold lines running the full page, then fold the dummy to confirm that they are positioned correctly. Such safeguards are often omitted, and the results disappointing. We see many 3-folds which were designed to be folded evenly. This is incorrect. One panel should be slightly smaller. The more panels, the more leeway must be allowed for paper-folding. Ask your printer representative for a dummy. They will provide one. (Remove the fold lines before going to print.)
3. Bindery Operations: any physical modifications that are to be performed on the sheet after printing must be indicated. Always make a "dummy" which is a prototype of the final piece, completely folded, stitched and finished just as if it were printed. This will help you identify many potential problem areas. Again, ask your printer representative. If the project has critical folds, scores or other off-press operations the printer will be happy to provide a mock-up. Many times for jobs that are weight sensitive, the paper mill will provide cut, stitched or folded dummies of different paper weights. This is particularly important when mailing is involved.
4. Gutters: extra care must be given to gutters where a project is to be saddle stitched. (Folded, then stitched through the center fold) Allow extra space for readability -- the more pages you have the deeper the gutter needs to be. Ask your printer for guidelines, and allowances for "creep". Many paper companies have a design support department and will be happy to make you a stapled/stitched dummy sample of your completed book, on the paper you intend to use. Ask your printer.
5. Imposition: This is the way the pages will be arranged on the master press sheets the printer will send through the printing press. Your document, and most DTP/word processing programs use the page-after-page interface. Inform your printer that the document is not paginated. They'll take care of the rest.
This is also very important in regards to simple jobs like post cards, brochures, tents and other single-sheet projects that are to be backed-up.
Make sure you print both sides of the project, then assemble the pieces to make sure everything fits. We've seen many brochures, flyers and post cards where the second side is upside-down. It's a common mistake, particularly when using work-n-turn or work-n-flop techniques.
Ask your printer to help. They can see that you avoid problems later when any problem is an expensive one.
Next: Putting it all together...
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