According to a study conducted by a leading market research company, the sales growth for the print industry and all other subsidiaries has been 4% for the year 2014. The steady growth of e-publishing and the advancement in traditional prepress services has enabled the expansion of the printing industry as a whole.
With the growth of e-publishing and rapidly changing ways in which people consume the print media, it is imperative for prepress professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest changes. Whether you are a seasoned prepress expert or a novice in the industry, you need to not only get perfect print ready files but also ensure that it works across different platforms and media types as well.
Prepress and Premedia processes are fine-tuned over a long period of time, but even then, every single time you have to be extra careful with the final deliverable since every single file can spring unexpected challenges. From making sure all the settings are exactly as your client demanded, checking the size guidelines, font usage and whether the colors are set as per the print standards or not, there are many factors which need to be 100% accurate for a high-quality end result. At the same time, you need to ensure that no extra charges are incurred by you or your client.
The following tips have been compiled after having worked in the digital prepress industry for over 20 years, and cover all major aspects of artwork correction, and will ensure your final file is in an excellent shape before being sent for printing.
Choosing the correct color mode is the most important step while getting your digital prepress project ready for printing and publishing. Many veteran designers, especially those who have worked extensively in the paper and print industry tend to use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key i.e. black) color mode. But, with the advent of e-publishing, designers are gradually gravitating towards an RGB (red, green and blue) workflow for their prepress requirements. This is because while working in the RGB color mode, the colors tend to translate better on the screen and remain significantly true to the source.
At the same time, most printers require images to be in the CMYK format rather than the RGB format, since CMYK colors have been traditionally used for printing, especially on paper. Therefore, you can either choose to supply RAW RGB files which can be easily be converted to CMYK, or take the responsibility of sending the CMYK files yourself. In either case, always ensure you know the exact end usage requirements before choosing the color profile.
Choosing the wrong resolution for a picture is the most common mistake that prepress operators seem to make, according to reports. A picture with a resolution of 72dpi (dots per inch) will never be able to reproduce colors and resolution as accurately on the paper as it might online. In certain cases, it might even look horribly pixelated and blurry! Therefore, the thumb rule should be to always set the image resolution between 250-300dpi (except few special requirements).
While the resolution is important, one should also ensure that the pictures are not maximized or minimized by more than 20% of the original size. This is because size also directly affects the resolution. A 300dpi image, when minimized by 50% will have a resolution of 600dpi, and vice versa if maximized. Resizing incorrectly can more often than not lead to preflight troubles before printing.
Proofreading the content and text within an article is as important as the design itself. Even if the document has gone through a round of proofreading, possible errors can creep in during the typesetting and design process. Therefore, an expert proofreader needs to go through the text with a fine comb, looking for text overruns, misplaced text blocks and text hidden behind images before finalizing the text layout. This is an important step to ensure that the final print-ready file does not have any glaring errors.
If required, you can also use software such as Impostrip AutoFlow, which can help you save time and paper by doing software-based calculations to make modifications such as splitting words at the end of lines etc., thereby ensuring a fully optimized sheet.
Defining the bleed and trim marks is especially important. The bleed area is considered as the excess part of your document that won't end up in the final output. If you are working with images, it is necessary that you leave some excess image area as part of the bleed (usually 3mm), since paper is likely to shift while running through the press, and in the process, destroy your image. At the same time, always check with your vendor to determine the bleed area they prefer.
Trim marks, also known as Crop marks, are thin lines placed around the edges of an image or artwork layout to indicate where the paper should be trimmed once printed. Defining the bleed area and the trim marks properly is extremely important to ensure the project is perfectly printed and trimmed. Omitting crop marks or failing to define the bleed area properly can lead to unfortunate time delays and unnecessary expenses.
All the work you have put behind a CMYK or RGB color workflow can go to waste if your monitor itself is not color corrected properly. Yellows should look yellow and not a shade of orange. In order to ensure that your pictures are as accurate as possible and speak the same color language, it is imperative you manually color correct them at least once a month or use color correction software and hardware.
Color calibration software is available for as low as $50, and if your work involves heavy color correction, you can also opt for hardware which allows granular control over gamma, white balancing and even room-light monitoring, such as ColorMunki and Spyder5ELITE.
Once you have ensured that your project file is print ready, you need to preflight it to run a final check and determine whether everything is as it should be. You can, of course, choose to perform the preflight procedure manually, or use industry-standard software such as FlighCheck. Preflighting can help you check for incorrect font usage, wrong image resolution, incorrect colors, transparency etc., and save you both time and money.
Once you are ready to send the work to the printer, optimize the files so that the printer has all the resources necessary to perform the printing procedure.
Whether you are using Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign, never use the built in settings to export the document in a PDF format. If you have to, select the built in settings you need to change. This is because the resolution of the final PDF is extremely important, and most printers have their own specifications which you need to know before sending the document for printing.
The prepress and premedia industry has come a long way. As a prepress executive, you need to ensure your skills are always up-to-date with the latest innovations in the prepress technology. At the same time, you need a prepress partner who not only understands the ins-and-outs of the industry but can also help you save a lot of time and unnecessary expenses by providing exceptional services.
At Outsource2india, we have over 20 years of domain experience servicing over 200 prepress customers, and our state-of-the-art infrastructure help us provide high-quality, professional prepress services to global organizations.
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