What is Print Design?
Print design is a graphic design, creative process of producing a visual communication and presentation that is performed in order to convey a specific message or messages to a targeted audience, purposely made for printing.
So the role of a print designer is to combine images and text to create the layouts for advertising and marketing campaigns. Print designers use their technical and typographic skills to arrange and style words and numbers as they appear on a page. Their design activities include choosing font types, sizes and colors to create attractive headlines and text-based presentations that will catch the reader’s eye. Determining letter and line spacing, integrating illustrations and photographs and laying out pages are also part of a print designer’s
Print Design Terms
A colorimeter is invaluable in correctly calibrating a monitor. It’s a device used for measuring the intensity and hue of the light emitted from a computer monitor. The instrument sits flat on the screen, and has a light-reading cell in its underbelly.
CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key. CMYK is the standard color mode for sending documents – be it magazines, newspapers, flyers, brochures, annual reports and so on to the printers. It stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (or black – key because in four-color printing, cyan, magenta, and yellow printing plates are carefully keyed, or aligned, with the key of the black key plate). When you send a job to the press, cyan, magenta, yellow and black plates are made (on a traditional press, anyhow) and then aligned to print on paper. You can add Pantone, or fifth colors, which are created as separate plates.
DPI stands for dots per inch. A higher DPI is better. DPI values don’t compare across technologies. Inkjets typically print at around 700dpi for basic proofing, 1440dpi for typical output and 2560 dpi for very high quality. Higher DPI values are slightly smoother, but take longer to print and use more ink.
Dye-based inks produce brighter colors than pigment-based inks, but fade faster. It stain media directly rather than printing on a substrate, and are often water-soluble. Colors are brighter than for pigment inks (see 07), but they fade faster. Dye-based inks are often used for photo printing, and sometimes for proofing.
‘Dye-sub’ is an alternative printer technology used for fabric printing and other specialized applications. Some inkjet models, especially those by Epson, can be used with dye-sub inks. Prints can be made directly onto fabric or transfer paper, and then fixed into the fabric with a heat press.
Also known as ‘wide format’, these are big industrial printers. Smaller units print up to A2 on sheets or rolls; the largest models print on rolls up to 64 inches wide. They typically use the same technology as desktop printers, but are bigger and should be more reliable.
The Pantone Color Matching System a standardized color reproduction system used throughout the design industry. This is a measure of how accurately a printer can reproduce the standard Pantone swatch colors. The company has been around since 1963 and has a universal system for understanding and matching color. The Pantone Matching System is based on a set for standard colors that can be mixed in precise combinations that print consistently across different printing presses and substrates.
Pantone colors are identified by number and the company produces color kits to help you maintain consistent print quality across mediums. Pantone standards take paper into account for color mixing and use a set of letters to help note paper type for each color mix. The color number is followed by C, U or M, which correspond to paper types coated, uncoated or matte.
Most inkjets use pigment-based inks, with up to 12 distinct colors. Pigment inks are used for archival art printing, and for black-and-white or lightly toned colour photography. Colors tend to be less saturated than dye-based output, but are more resistant to UV light and fading.
Raster Image Processor – a software accessory that works as an enhanced printer driver, producing the highest possible quality output for text, bitmap graphics and vector art. An RIP isn’t essential, but it’s a useful add-on for large format work.
Almost all printers ask that projects include a bleed. The bleed helps the printer accurately prepare the file for printing, so that the correct area is printed, the paper is cut to the proper size and so that the color is reproduced accurately.
Bleed is important because it creates a little wiggle room in the printing process. Think of it this way. You are creating a poster from a photo. If the image is perfectly cropped to the printed size, any variation will result in dead space. With bleed, a small variation goes unnoticed because the photo edge is simply extended.
While bleed specs vary by printer, it is advisable to work with a bleed of 1/2 inch or more. Publishing software such as Adobe InDesign has built-in bleed settings, making it easy to work with, turn on/off bleeds and export with proper settings and marks.
The smaller sizes of paper, such as A4, derived by cutting down the ‘parent’ sizes used by commercial printing presses.
The feel and texture of any paper. Laid finish is machine-made paper that emulates handmade; embossed finish presses a pattern into the surface of the paper; matte papers have a dull surface well-suited to text – the list goes on
The dimensions of a printed page after any excess edges have been cut away. Be careful not to confuse this with cut size.
The process of folding sheets in half, with staples or stitching in the middle. The page count must be divisible by four.
Sounds a lot more glamorous than it is: a paper block is glued into a wrap-around cover, just like in a regular paperback book. PUR binding is a variant on this that uses extra-strength, temperature-resistant glue.
Make a living as a Print Designer
I spent over 3000 hours per year for 10 years teaching myself graphic, print design and building a Design Studio. You can now take advantage of my course, Learn Print Design.
- Improve your design skills. Learn techniques for creating different styles of print design and deliberate practice.
- Build a strong following. Learn to increase your exposure and build a following who will buy products or services from you.
- Make a living. Learn how to price on value, market your services, & attract the kind of clients that pay well.
- Print Design Tools and Essentials
- Techniques + Practical Application For Print Design Projects
- Get Better Faster At Print Design
- Mastering the Art of Print Design Layouts
- Creating Original Artworks For Your Print Design Like The Pros
- Digitizing Artworks For Your Print Project
- Create Custom Fonts For Your Print Design
- Bridging the Gap Between Art & Business
- Building and Growing your Audience
- Finding Print Design Clients
- Client Communication
- Pricing on Value For Print Design
- Understanding & Writing Print Design Contracts
Not only will you be learning how to create professionally designed flyers, event programs, wedding packages, CD covers, brochures, stationery, menus and list goes on. You’ll also learn the practical business side of print design and be ready to make a living as a print designer
Does this sound like something you’re interested in?
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