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Our Graphic Design Process – Part 3: Print Design

Our Graphic Design Process - Part 3: Print Design

In Our Graphic Design Process – Part 1 we outlined the research and development process we go through for all of our design projects. In Part 2 we looked into Our Graphic Design Process for Website Design and in Part 3 we will explain our print design process.

1. Initial Drafts

For print work we use a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator. We then bring together our elements in Indesign. Adobe Indesign is an easy tool to work with allowing us to import graphics from Photoshop or Illustrator and wrap copy around them with ease. If properly set up at the start using a baseline grid, master pages and character / paragraph styles, Indesign can make a large brochure or catalogue design project much easier. Using these tools, you are able to make quick document wide changes to explore ideas and tweak designs.

graphic design process print - Indesign screen grab

2. Hand Over

Once we are happy with the print design project we save it as a pdf and email it to the client for further inspection. At this stage we encourage the client to take a good and thorough look over the design. We also encourage the client to print the piece out to get a better feel for how the finished design will look. It can sometimes be very hard to visualise how the piece will look on a monitor.

Any feedback is welcomed as we understand that the client knows their market place far better than we do. We are therefore happy to discuss and implement any changes / improvements required.

After a discussion with the client we ask for amendments to be given by email so we have confirmation of exactly what is being asked for in the clients own words. As we mentioned in our last post, in our terms and conditions we have a maximum of two sets of amendments to any design project. This tends to ensure the client is concise with any changes required.

3. Sign Off

Once we have completed the amends a new copy of the design is sent back to the client for approval. As part of our project acceptance form (which is issued to the client with a quote at the start of a project) the client has signed to say they agree to our print proof agreement. This agreement outlines that eightyone design is not liable for any textual errors once the design has been signed off by the client.

It also explains that whilst every effort is made during the design process to ensure colour accuracy that we are also not responsible for any colour reproduction problems in the final piece. This is particularly important when the client is sourcing their own printers as we would have no experience in the sort of quality they can achieve.

Another benefit of using Indesign is the ease in creating a print ready pdf. Occasionally printers will ask for the Indesign / Photoshop / Illustrator file, but many prefer a pdf. We do the following checks before we send over the pdf:

  1. Ensure that there is at least 3mm bleed (or the amount specified by the printers)
  2. Ensure any pantone colours are converted to CMYK if spot colour printing is not required / available.
  3. Ensure any images used have been converted from RGB to CMYK.
  4. Using the powerful tools in Acrobat carry out pre-flight checks on the document to identify any discrepancies.

graphic design process print - Print ready PDF screen grab

4. Print Proof

Once the paper stock is chosen (this decision tends to come down to quantities, quality and cost) we ensure we obtain a proof from the printers before commissioning a full print run. There are two types of print proof normally supplied by commercial printers, a ‘digital proof’ and a ‘wet proof’, and it is important to understand the differences.

A ‘digital proof’ is one that has been printed on a inkjet printer. Whereas a ‘wet proof’ is printed on the actual printing press using the machine, printed plates, paper and inks that will be used to produce the final job. This means a ‘wet proof’ gives you and the client a much more accurate representation of the final piece. However, It can be more costly obtaining a wet proof as if any changes are required, the plates have to be re-made and the printer will usually charge you for this.

Commonly a digital proof will be used to check text and alignment whereas a wet proof will give you an accurate run out to check images and colours. It is extremely advisable to obtain some sort of print proof no matter how small the project.

Depending on the project we sometimes obtain a digital proof and for larger, more complicated projects we will obtain a wet proof.

Once the client has checked over the proof and has signed to say proceed, we go ahead and commission a full print run.

5. Samples

We always order a small amount of samples of the print work for us to keep for our portfolio. This allows us to have a wide range of examples to show potential clients. It always looks good to show an extensive range of work to a new or existing client as they often draw inspiration from what you’ve previously produced. Having some samples also allows us to photograph them for use on online and offline marketing.

Have your say

Have you recently worked with a design company for a print project? Was their print design process similar to our own? What improvements would you make to our process?

Or, if you are a designer, how does your print design process differ to ours?

Posted by Lu

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Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009 at 11:01 am
Posted In Graphic Design, Print Design | Tags: , , , ,

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