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Offset is different
Read this if you are a Web Artist :-

Why do I need this information?
Many of our customers are already very experienced in computer graphics and in producing computerised artwork. This is a good thing, but if offset print is not your native medium you need to be aware of where the rules differ.

If you are a web designer you should know the following ...
  • Mistakes cost money!   The first and most important thing to understand is that if you make a mistake in print it will be expensive. Once a job is printed you either live with it or it goes in the bin and you start again - alterations cannot be made after the event. This means print requires a much stricter level of proofing discipline than you are probably used to. BEFORE THE JOB IS PRINTED !!!
  • Only one thing matters - how it prints  The bottom line is what ends up on paper. How your artwork looks on your screen may not translate totally faithfully to the printed job. It is like creating a web page for a target browser you are unfamiliar with. You wouldn't simply trust what you see in Dreamweaver would you? This is why good proofing is absolutely vital.
  • Bitmap vs Vector artwork  Professionally constructed offset artwork will be a mixture of vector and bitmap content. To produce a professional web page you wouldn't normally construct it as one big Jpeg image. It is a similar situation for print. Imagine you can produce page artwork using div tags in complex shapes with complex fills and borders. Vector artwork is scaleable - ie it is resolution independent just like fonts - and so it produces sharper, cleaner results than bitmap images. Use photoshop to create your bitmaps and then make your page up in your vector program. Combining bitmaps with complex shapes and fills, fonts, etc., a bit like you would use Photoshop and Dreamweaver in conjunction.
  • Choose a suitable vector program Any of the following will do : InDesign, Quark, CorelDraw, Freehand, Illustrator, Pagemaker, Serif Pageplus (ver. 11 or above). MSPublisher can be used at a push but is limited. MSWord isn't really suitable but if you know what you are doing it can be used though we would never recommend it
  • Bitmap Resolution As a web designer you will spend much of your working life trying to reduce the size of your bitmap files. This is the exact opposite of the technique needed for print. 72dpi is useless for a print job. If you are creating bitmaps for print you will find that your low resolution files produce very poor pixelated results. We need bitmaps TO BE CREATED at least 300dpi. Simply resizing a 72dpi image to 300dpi will not work. If you are engaged in a project that is for both print and web then it is best to create your bitmaps at print resolution and then re-target for web - it doesn't work the other way round
  • Colour Range You will be used to working with a very wide colour range (16 million colours or more). The range that offset printing can produce is much more limited at around 4 million colours. This means that what looks good on screen may not look good in print. To illustrate this point : Consider building a web page using only the very limited range of websafe colours. Things can look very different when compressing colour space.
  • RGB and CMYK You wouldn't create a web page in CMYK would you? It is similarly meaningless to create a print page in RGB. If you choose to do this you will lose control of colour relationships as your RGB data is converted to fit within our much more limited CMYK colour space. We recommend that you use CMYK from the outset.
  • Black should be CMYK black  As a web designer you will be used to the mindset of "If it looks black then it is black". This is not exactly the case with print. To produce good crisp black image you need to ensure that it is printed using black ink only. This is why you need to work in CMYK and select your colours from a CMYK palette
  • Overprint matters  Offset printing inks are transparent. Imagine that all your div layers and all the objects contained within them are transparent. If you overprint a blue object on a yellow background you will get a green object. Although we can override the overprint settings in customers files we will not normally do so. This is because we have no way of knowing what you have done by accident and what you meant to achieve. We will therefore preserve your overprint relationships Normally your program will handle this correctly but there are two special cases that you need to be aware of - overprint black and overprint white.
  • Overprint Black  It is usually best to overprint all small black objects - eg text below 12pt
  • Overprint White  Never overprint white. White objects set on overprint will be invisible. White in offset terms means "No ink at all" and consequently it only has meaning when set to knock out of another colour. Overprint white means "Print nothing here".
  • Imported artwork  Remember that all these rules not only apply to the artwork you create but also to all the artwork you import onto your page from other sources.
Producing artwork for print is a similar but different skill to web design and it often involves similar levels of complexity. Proofing is the key to success. If you are good enough to not spend much time on proofing then you are good enough to understand why good proofing procedure is absolutely vital.

All offset printing is postscript based these days - Pdf being a form of postscript. Postscript is a programming language designed primarily to describe printed pages. It is massively more complex than the html/css markup that you will be familiar with. Consequently no-one works with postscript directly, it is just too complex - we all use a chosen equivalent to Dreamweaver (Quark, Corel, Indesign, etc) in which "tags" cannot be edited directly. We think it is important that you appreciate what you are dealing with under the surface and so tackle it with an appropriate level of respect. The fact that print is older technology doesn't mean it's simpler or better behaved.

We want your experience of producing print through Caralan to be a success and we are always willing to help customers who want to be helped. It isn't rocket science but it is a different, though related, ballgame to the one you are used to and you will need to extend your skill set somewhat.

It is a fact of life that if you produce print artwork in a casual manner it will sooner or later bite you in the pocket.