Archive for the ‘Printing Brochures’ Category

Printing Papers–Greenwise or Green-foolish?

Saturday, September 5th, 2009

International Paper is distributing a series of brochures under the title of  DOWN TO EARTH, A Practical Look At Environmental Issues And Trends. They are thought provoking and well-designed. I tell you this upfront because it is always good to know the source. In this case it is a paper company making a case for paper, so be sure to take it with a grain of wood pulp.

The brochure I have on my desk in front of me asks the question, Are Pixels Greener Than Paper? I never really thought about it, but if I had I suppose my answer would be, “Of course, pixels are greener than paper.” After all you don’t have to harvest a tree for a blip on the screen.  Right? Well I was surprised to learn:

  • 20% less CO2

    20% less CO2

    “Twenty percent less CO2 is used per year by a person reading a daily printed newspaper versus a person reading  web-based news for 30 minutes a day.”

  • “On average it takes 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity to produce 440 lbs. of paper, the typical amount of paper each of us consumes annually. That’s the equivalent of powering one computer continuously for five months.”
  • 60% energy increase

    60% energy increase

    “It costs an estimated $2.8 billion [in] energy to leave computers sitting idle overnight in the U.S. alone. On a CO2 basis, that’s 20 million tons of carbon dioxide, about the amount produced by four million cars on the road.”

  • “A government study estimates that the rise in gadget ownership and the switch from analogue to digital TV could boost the electricity usage of the consumer electronic sector by 60 percent by 2010.”

There is more to report on this issue and International paper recommends the following sites for further information: ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Next: Sustainability and Recyclability

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Crossovers Are Just Asking For Trouble.

Monday, June 8th, 2009

What is a crossover? A crossover is an image that crosses over the center-fold in a multiple page product, like a magazine, or catalog. Your printer will try to explain the difficulty involved in producing crossovers, but until you’ve been up-close-and-personal with a project  where the crossovers failed, you won’t completely understand.

Why is that a problem? This would be easier to explain if I were face-to-face with you, but since I’m not I’m going to attempt to lead you through a little demonstration.

  1. Get a piece of paper, size doesn’t matter, but make sure you can fold it easily.
  2. If your paper is the standard 8 1/2″X11″ fold it in half so it is now 5 1/2″X8 1/2″.
  3. Keep the fold at the top and fold in half again to 4 1/4″X5 1/2″.
  4. This particular fold would result in an 8 page form.
  5. Now with the folded form, keeping the fold at the top, begin numbering the lower right hand corners–1 through 8.
  6. Be sure to number both sides of the paper or you’ll only have 4 instead of 8. If you don’t get 8 you’ve missed something.
  7. Open your sheet of paper.

Notice that on one side the page numbers are 1, 4, 5, and 8. On the other side the numbers are 2,3, 6, and 7. Now notice where the numbers are in relationship to one another. Numbers 2 and 3 are on opposite sides and so are 6 and 7. Are you with me so far?

Refold the paper along the original creases. Take a pair of scissors, or hand rip the folded top off. What you have is a little booklet with all of the pages numbered consecutively, but it wasn’t that way before you took of the top fold was it?  The only pages on the flat sheet that were next to each other were pages 4 and 5, which is what we call the center fold. The center fold is a breeze, but it is the other pages 2 & 3 and 6 & 7 that cause the problem. If the press operator is unable to make a near perfect color match from one side of the sheet to the other pages 2 & 3 for example when brought together for the final product will look very odd. One page could be more blue and the other more yellow. That would be an unfortunate look for a landscape, but a total disaster for a portrait. Color shifts are very visible in flesh tones.

If you look at the double-truck catalog spread example below you will notice a definite color shift in the background.


Assuming that this all made sense, what can a designer do about crossovers?

  • Center spread crossovers are pretty restrictive, so the next obvious thing is to use them sparingly. I have seen whole catalogs where crossovers occur on every page. Those press checks must have been a total nightmare. A dash of salt is a good thing for the stew, but a box of salt is not. If you know what I mean.
  • Design the position of the crossovers so that they bypass any critical areas. I once worked on a brochure where a man’s ear was definitely a khaki green compared to the rest of his face.
  • Be aware that even if you do a press check, color changes as the press runs. Even the simple physics of friction heat building up on the rollers will change the viscosity of the inks. Speed of the press is also a factor. If the press is stopped because of a problem and restarted, is it running at exactly the same speed? Part of the press operator’s job is to continuously pull press sheets to make sure the color is staying within tolerances, but if the piece was designed with very exact  crossovers someone is going to be disappointed. Do I mean to say it can’t be done? No, I don’t mean that at all. What I mean is that it is unlikely.
  • Murphy was a Printer

    Friday, March 6th, 2009

    The last few blogs I’ve posted have been stressing the importance giving the printer correct specifications so that your returning bids will be accurate. If you do that, and do it perfectly, will that prevent errors? No. Ask any printer you know or any that you don’t know for that matter if Murphy was a printer and you’ll hear a resounding, “Yes” or maybe an emphatic, “Hell, Yes.” For those readers who may not know Murphy’s Law, it goes like this, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” What does that mean? I’ll tell you, it means that no matter how perfectly you plan a print job, and how thoroughly you execute that plan, in the end there’s a chance that a boogie will jump out and ruin the whole darn thing.

    So many steps, no wonder someone trips.

    Why does Murphy pick on printers? That’s a good question that I think can be answered very simply by the complexity, and number of steps it takes to get something printed. For example I once worked on a company’s brochure. They, the company, hired a graphic designer who hired a photographer to take shots of the workplace. The pictures were professionally done, and the graphic designer did an excellent job in preparing the art. This was before computer design programs when art was furnished to the printer on art boards, so the first step in the process was to shoot the art on our stat camera, and send the photos out to be drum scanned. State of the art stuff for the day. When the prepress people, who were called in the industry (don’t laugh) strippers, got the camera’s film and the film from the separator they had to strip it all together.  This required a different set of negatives for each color. Which were carefully taken over to a plate burner where the negatives were placed precisely over a printing plate and the images photographically etched onto the plate. Then the plate had to be developed. I could go on and on, but I’ve probably already put you to sleep so I’ll stop here.

    miscommunications happen

    Did you count the steps it took just to get a plate made, and the number of places where something could go wrong? The first possible communication error was between the customer and the graphic designer, the second between the photographer and the designer, and the third between me (the sales rep) and the designer. Another possible point of error is between the printer’s sales person and the estimator. Do you see where I’m going with this? If the job is miscommunicated up front, in any way, there isn’t anything you can do in the production to make it right. I often hear customers say, I don’t need a proof, just go on with the job. I understand, they are busy and don’t need any more to-do’s in their day, but proofs, and specs, and everything else we do to communicate the job are as necessary to the job performance as getting the art in the first place.

    Ruined because of what?

    Back to the brochure, after all those steps and I didn’t even enumerate what could go wrong on press, in the bindery, or even with delivery, after the job was delivered I got a phone call from the president of the company. He said, “This is a terrible brochure. You ruined what was supposed to be a showpiece for our company.”

    I had samples on my desk and for the life of me couldn’t understand why he would be so upset. It was a beautiful piece. So I asked, “What exactly is the problem?”

    He told me that his secretary’s dress came out too aqua it was really more of a royal blue color. I swear this is a true story! Her dress was the wrong shade of blue, are you kidding me? Assuming there was a real problem, where could it have taken a wrong turn? First if shot under fluorescent lights unless they are color corrected everything will be tinged with yellow. The color separator could have been adjusting for pleasing flesh tones and tweaked it a little off color. Printing is done with dots as I mentioned in an earlier blog (Sunday, February 15th, 2009), those dots are made with four pigments, CYMK. Not every color can be perfectly reproduced with those colors. Finally on press, the ink flow to the sheet is adjusted by the press operator to get the best result. Where did it go wrong-anywhere, nowhere.  The real question was did the brochure fulfill it’s purpose? Was it professionally produced in an accepted workmanlike manner? Yes and yes. Did any potential customer refuse to buy his product because of the color of the secretary’s dress? I don’t think so. His reaction was a bit over the top don’t you think? I wonder what was really going on?

    He was

    But again, Murphy was a printer. I swear that he was.

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