I have been designing for print for 20 years

I feel fortunate to be able to be creative for a living. To be able to confer with a client to discover and understand their vision for a project and to then be able to create a design that meets or exceeds their expectations is very rewarding. Every job is unique in scope and intent, and each presents it’s own challenges. I enjoy collaborating, and imagining solutions, which take shape and evolve towards the end result...a new design.

posters

trade show booths and handouts

shelf hanger packaging, food labels, box layouts

post cards, inserts, business cards, letterhead and envelopes, calendars, barrel wrap, door hangers

brochures, flyers, forms, book pages and covers, catalogs, annual report cover, newsletters, map

  • ... the Print World is changing

    Apparently the oldest printed book was printed in China sometime before 1000 AD, but there is only one copy in existence and no records exist that describe the method used to print the book. In 1440 AD, Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press with moveable type, sparking the first true publishing revolution.

    A lot has changed since then.

    Printing has changed most radically in the last thirty years. In 1985 Apple Computer made available the first small (i.e. desktop sized) affordable mass-market  black-and-white laser printing device called the LaserWriter, a device which was a crucial element in the nascency of the desktop publishing revolution. Interestingly, on the very same day, a company named Aldus released their new program called PageMaker, an application that could easily create graphically oriented documents on a personal computer. Adobe had recently developed a graphical software language interpreter called PostScript. The convergence of these three companies and the technologies they were advancing were all crucial elements in the birth of “desktop publishing”.  And printing and it's associated technologies has been riding a whirlwind of change and advancement since then.

     

    Think about the things we have today that are a result of that sea change of innovations:

    before, we couldn’t print anything graphically, suddenly we could, but only in black and white, and now, full color printing  is everywhere

    we have printers that can fit in our pockets, that can print photo quality at postage stamp sizes

    there are companies selling digitally designed and printed custom wallpaper

    we see multi-story building sized graphics, both interior and exterior

    we can print from our handheld devices and computers wirelessly

    small digital presses using inkjet (liquid) or toner (particle based) pigments can print short run reasonably priced full color printing jobs

    one can print full color custom jobs with every copy being different from the previous and the next, and targeted directly to the end users on your mailing list

    book publishing web sites have proliferated, providing affordable self-publication to everybody in the world

    3D printing is in it's infancy in the mass market, but it is already in place in industry with proven technologies, printing things like...batteries!

    there are new commercial printing presses nearing marketplace release that will diverge from the traditional CMYK model which uses oil based inks and instead will incorporate inkjet technologies, offering more ink colors, much more vibrant color images, faster ink drying times (like, nearly instantaneously, rather than hours to days), and of course these new presses will be able to fully incorporate all the advantages of digital tech, like personalization, and dashboard level control of the ink densities on your press run.

    Photoshop can now design within a 3D workspace allowing you to rotate and paint and texturize your 3D models, and Photoshop can then print directly to 3D printers, including creating buttresses that support potentially collapsable models while the 3D printing material hardens!

    I can scarcely wait to see what they dream up next!

     

  • ... what the heck are RGB and CMYK ?

    It boils down to this...computer monitors display what is called additive color to our eyes, and printed-ink-on-paper uses subtractive color to display color to our eyes.

    Additive color is RGB, from red-green-blue, which are the main colors of the phosphors in our monitors. Those phosphors add their colors together to project all the other colors to our eyes through the glass face of the monitor. Full mixing of rgb creates white, and zero amounts of all three rgb channels creates black. (Makes sense, right? All channels reaching your eyes full on means more light equaling bright whiteness. Zero light on all channels equals a black cat eating liquorice in a coal bin at midnight). When you vary the rgb percentages, your eye perceives all the different colors that our computers can show. Like everything you are seeing right now.

    Subtractive color is CMYK, from cyan-magenta-yellow-black, which are the main pigmented inks that are used in full color printing. Similarly to rgb, the amounts and concentrations of these pigments are what brings the perception of full color imagery to our eyes.  But in exact opposition to additive color, subtractive color works like this: if you print all 4 color channels at 100 percent ink coverage, you get black (well technically what you would get is a very, very rich-black with 400% ink coverage. It is never a good idea to ask a printer to print a rich-black with more than 300% ink coverage). If you put NONE of the 4 colors in a particular area of your design, you get white, which is actually provided by the color of the paper you are printing on.

    Here is what they look like:

    You may have heard the acronyms rgb and cmyk before, and found yourself scratching your head in benumbed wonderment...

     

    So the reason we have to pay attention to this is that we want our images to look correct (no blue peas, no green humans) and we want our screen images to match as closely as is possible to our printed pieces.

    You can see the potential for problems: two different color models, neither of which remotely resembles the other, one using three colors to shine lights through glass, and the other using four colors to lay down pigments on paper so that ambient lighting (daylight, flourescent light, incandescent light, each with their own distinct color casts) can bounce off of the paper and the pigments in order to be reflected to our eyes. Converting from one color space to another without seeing major shifts in color is our goal.

    A lot of time has been spent attempting to solve the complexities of this conundrum. This is what color control is all about.

design for print