What is Print Production?
Are you a designer or project manager with mad skills but unsure of the process needed to get your design printed to the professional standards you would like? You might just want to get another set of eyes on your project to make sure all the client graphic standards are met. Maybe you are used to a digital world where “what you see is what you get” because your online courses never challenged you to actually print any materials. Could be you have a layout designed for that annual report but need someone to finish out the saddle stitched book so you can get on with more pressing design matters. Or maybe you have some beautiful product packaging designed but need to create that detailed dieline and don’t know where to start. Take the worry and guess-work out of your print projects and let me run with it from start to finish (or anywhere in-between) with experience and connections from over 15 years in the advertising and printing industries. See below for some technical descriptions and examples of work performed.
Check the “Specs”
This is one of the most important pieces of information for a printed piece. It’s where the job starts. Everything is built around specs. The project manager/designer should have these print specifications when they start a job but incomplete or incorrect “specs” can cause a big headache and slow down processes when the job gets to a production artist. Each job differs, but generally speaking, the production artist will need to know the following basics: Size (trim, bleed, live), File Format (PDF, native file), Color Space (CMYK, PMS), Line Screen/Resolution.
Tightlines can help get what is needed if there is a contact person/phone number at your vendor, or if you need one of those I can get that for you too!
A good retoucher will do color correction and clean up on images where they see fit and/or as directed by the designer. This can be the most time intensive part of the process depending on the quality of the images
and the complexity of the files supplied, especially when compositing needs to be done. The retoucher may have to recreate more sky, additional landscape or even a person's body part that is important to the composition of the final piece. It is the retoucher’s responsibility to create final artwork at the correct print resolution.
Tightlines can help facilitate purchasing/negotiations for FPO imagery from stock houses, help send out proofs for color accuracy and can even scan photos and negatives within an 8x10” size frame.
When creating a “mechanical” the production artist will look at the specific details of a job. They will check such things as borders and rules to make sure they are even and consistent. An imaginary grid may be followed to make sure things are lining up correctly. Drop shadows will be checked for consistency. An indicia or a mailing panel on business reply mail (BRM) that has to conform to specific postal regulations may need to be created. A custom dieline for packaging, folders, envelopes, etc. may need to be created. Other details include “shorting” panels on brochures that fold.
Among other tasks a production artist will perform are such things as type clean up and check colors. Beautifying type maybe one
of the most underrated parts of what a production artist does. It may be the difference between a piece looking professional and something looking askew. Typesetting is an art unto itself. Kerning, Leading and Tracking are performed. Copy gets checked for consistency, readability and typos. Checks that there are no double spaces, that em dashes are used instead of hyphens, that quotation marks are used instead of inch marks are made, just to name a few. Kerning to headlines and phone numbers are made. Most clients have corporate colors or spot colors that must remain consistent. Depending on the color space, a production artist will check to make sure these colors are the right build or “separating out” correctly if it’s a spot color job.
Please remember to always generate a contract proof. You are checking one last time to make sure there is no re-flow, typos, font substitution, that color looks good, that color is consistent, there are no missing elements, and that a job is folding/converting properly. This is the last chance to make changes or adjustments before a piece goes on press. It is much better and inexpensive to have a proof rerun than a whole job because of a mistake or oversight.
Tightlines can also help with the final press check if need be. This involves going to the printer and looking once again at proofs of
a press sheet once the job is on press and being printed on the actual stock. It is the final step in the production process and at this point everyone should be happy and relieved that the job looks great and will deliver on time.
Please contact Tightlines Production for all your retouching and print production needs, I am always willing to help find a solution to your printing needs no matter how big or small.