Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Designing for Digital Printing - Part 2: Design Stage

Avoid large solids on the fold marks to reduce the noticeability of cracking. Heavy ink coverage
along the spine/fold is important for thicker stocks, especially in instances with toner-based digital printing. Toner sits on top of a sheet and doesn’t absorb into the paper. When the paper folds, the fibers pull apart at the fold (crack) and while all printing can show the presence of cracking, toner-based print projects will magnify the problem.

Solids and gradients can be especially problematic when printing digitally and are prone to banding. Avoid large solids and tints in your document by adding filters that add additional noise and texture to help ensure a smooth and even finish. Try to break up solids with photos and other design elements to eliminate any streaking. When designing a gradient, the move needs to be greater on a digital press for it to be noticeable. You might not even identify a 10% to 30% gradient but a 10% to 70% will start to give the effect you desire. In general, avoid long gradients with small, light color changes.

Create smart files. The digital press will most likely print in CMYK so design your file in CMYK. RGB has a greater color gamut and those RGB colors you see on your screen may not be possible to reproduce in the CMYK color gamut. In addition, to ensure good print resolution, create and save images at 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Also, when saving your files, quality PDF’s generated in the proper settings are best for digital printing.

Does your design incorporate variable elements? When designing multiple versions, create a common design and have a few select areas that will be interchangeable with unique content depending on the specific audience. Also, if the variable element you design is to be determined by a field in a spreadsheet, proof and test the longest word (highest number of characters) in the database field to ensure that it fits properly within your design.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always surprised to see people clinging to CMYK color space, particularly when it comes to digital printing. I'd much rather have RGB files supplied, and allow the press RIP to convert as it typically retains a larger gamut than files converted to CMYK by the designer. Of course, there are always exceptions but I believe it's high time to allow RGB & LAB their day in the sun!