This was an incredibly applicable and informative chapter, since we as students don’t have too much experience with large-run print jobs.
The chapter opened with important reminders about exporting files as PDFs, and included a handy list of all the things that should be included when packaging a file to be sent off to the printer, which include:
- Final InDesign file
- All linked images in a folder, including native .psd and .ai files
- A folder with all fonts used
- Any printer instructions or special notes
- A comp dummy to demonstrate die lines, spot treatments and folds
- All special ink swatches.
Packaging a file through InDesign’s dialogue creates a folder with all of these components automatically.
This chapter also explored color and finishing options that are widely available in commercial printing. Different coatings can be added to jobs to create a variety of effects. UV coating can create a highly glossy or a matte finish, laminates can be applied to protect a printed surface, and other spot options like embossing, laser/die cuts and metallic foils can add interest (and extra cost) to a project. Printers also offer various color options. A traditional, full color job typically uses 4 colors of ink (CMYK). However, it’s also possible to print a job using either 1, 2 or 3 inks based on the colors used in a design, which makes the job more economical. For limited ink jobs, many designers will use Pantone Color Matching systems to guarantee exact color matching.
Finally, this chapter explained the difference between offset and digital printing, which are the two options for commercial printing. Offset printing involves separating out each ink color into an individual plate, and then printing in colors. Because of the initial effort involved in this process, offset printing becomes a more economical option for large runs. Two main benefits of offset printing include the ability to print on a variety of mediums with various ink types, and that it is able to produce very high quality prints. Digital printing, on the other hand, is faster because it requires no plates to set up, and is therefore cheaper for small jobs. One of the largest benefit to digital printing is the ability to have customization from piece to piece (for addresses or mailers, for example).