Press Checks for Dummies: Part 2

26 04 2010

Here is a general guide of things to look for on a press check.  Print for your own use or give to new clients!

 

Color – verify color against the color proof and/or PMS swatch for match.  Feel free to fold the press sheet.  Be sure to look at the proof AND the press sheet under the color specific lighting of the lightbox. 

  1. As this is a 4-color build of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK), be sure to only ask for adjustments with those colors.  Don’t ask for more “green” but ask questions that specify what you want the end result to be:  “if we add more yellow, will it make this green lighter?”
  2. Pay close attention to flesh tones- they can be tricky.
  3. Oversaturation of one color can make the rest of the sheet look muddy – be mindful of this as you check the sheet.
  4. Remember that the pressmen are not able to fix design issues, only adjust colors.

The Register

Registration –checking that the CMYK plates are all in register or in line.  Pull out your magnifying loupe (or ask to borrow the pressman’s) and check to see that all colors are lining up properly. 

A great way to verify registration is to check the circular register mark in the corner of the sheet. Also look at the edges of bold text.

Paper – Is this the paper you ordered?  Pick it up, feel it, fold it.  Keep in mind that these sheets will still have wet ink on them and the sheet may be slightly different when the ink is dried.

  1. Hold it up to the light to see if the ink has run through.
  2. Know that uncoated sheets will NOT match the color proof as the color translates differently onto coated and uncoated sheets.

Clarity – Using the magnifying loupe again, verify that the dots are sharp and clear when using a coated sheet, and reasonably clear on an uncoated sheet.  As with registration, the text is the great way to view clarity both from a distance and close up.

Magnified Ink Dots

  1.  Be sure that the ink is laying smoothly through the solid blocks of color and gradients are smooth.

  Other Details:

  1. Varnish or Coating: Look for a slight change in the gloss of the paper at the edge of the sheet to see if it has been applied
  2. Hickies:  Stray spots or irregularities in ink coverage causing small white circles.
  3.  Scumming and Ghosting: Ink or images appear in unwanted places

Above all, feel free to ask the pressman questions – this is his area of expertise and he wants this project to look good just as much as you do!

 





Press Checks for Dummies: Part 1

23 04 2010

Nothing is more frustrating then getting a job back from your printer and being unhappy with the print work.  The sky was supposed to be blue… not purple.  Or I thought these flesh tones were supposed to be a little more flesh-like… these people are green!  Whatever the case – you have spent hours designing a piece that is supposed to reflect the brand and culture of your organization (see this article for more on the importance of color in branding) only to have it returned looking completely unlike what you intended. 

Now I know this is an extreme, but in reality what comes off the press will almost never match what was on your computer screen or in your mind.  Even the most skilled pressman (of which my company has MANY) don’t have ESP.  Yes, we make you check out a proof, but many clients don’t take advantage of another great tool offered by many printing companies at no charge – Press Checks!

For those of you who don’t know what a press check is, it is basically the equivalent of test-driving a car one last time before purchasing it.  You are already committed to running the printing job, but you can check out the actual printed piece as it comes off the press prior to the entire job being printed.  This is where you can refine the colors, check for any paper imperfections, and in general tweak your little heart out to get the feel that you want in the final piece.  

I know press checks are not for everyone.  It isn’t always comfortable being in a loud production center, sometimes they are scheduled at inconvenient hours of the night or late morning, and some piece are honestly just not that important.  But if you are brand-conscious, printing a large quantity, or even just new to the printing industry – press checks may be just the tool you are looking for.

Stay tuned for a complete “how to” of press checking!  Know what to look for and how to ask for it.