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It’s urgent, send it to Print – What could possibly go wrong?


Many a marketers’ famous last words.

If you are really lucky and if the designer is experienced and understands the print process, if it’s a small change and the printer double checks everything, your artwork might turn out to be okay.

But, in reality it’s something that you don’t want to risk. Even though there are increasing number of brand representatives crowding Drupa stalls, truth is most of them don’t understand much about print technology and its nuances.

So, what can the brand do to make sure the print comes out right?

Here is a checklist that can help you take care of your artwork before sending it to print.

Ensure that ONLY the Approved Artwork is shared:

  1. The text that ends up on the artwork should be verified by marketing, legal, packaging, product development, regulatory and any other departments involved in the artwork process. Proof reading and spell checking is a must. Ensure that the final version of the file is approved by the concerned departments.
  2. In some companies, there is a final approver (typically Marketing / CQA), who gives his / her feedback to the designer, gets the revised version, approves this version which in turn goes to the printer. The flip side to this approach is that the approved version is technically not approved by the other departments and this could be a perfect recipe for disaster.

Send the correct Version:

  1. Make sure that you are sending the right version of artwork file to print. With the help of a good artwork management software, which usually includes a robust version control system, this can be easily achieved.
  2. In case your printer needs associated files (like specification files, source files, fonts, etc.), it is best to have all the files shared at one location.

Preflight the PDF file

Since we are dealing with PDF Files, creating a bad PDF is easy. You need to make sure that the quality of your PDF is at its best by running a set of checks. This checking is known as pre‑fighting. It is a technical analysis of the ­file which checks all the aspects of an artwork like colors, fonts, images, etc. Below are a set of mandatory pre-flight checks to be done before sending the artwork to print

  1. Bleed Zones
  2. Colors Used
  3. Fonts and Outlines
  4. Embedded Image Resolutions
  5. Layers Used
  6. Ink Coverage
  7. Text Size
  8. Line Thickness

There are specialized pre-flight tools which will check the artwork and report potential issues. A good Artwork Management System can do these pre-flight checks as a part of proofing.

Fingerprint the Press

Sometimes, even after the PDF is pre-flighted, the print output may not turn out right. The most common complaint is color inconsistency. Fingerprinting can take some of the uncertainties in the print process for a particular press. Fingerprinting is a very reliable process in Print Colour Management for achieving consistent print results in different printing processes and printing works. The goal of fingerprinting is to document the press conditions and the resulting print quality across the sheet/web under stable and repeatable conditions. It helps you verify that the standards can be met using actual material, press speed, ink, etc. Fingerprinting is part of what’s called Print Management and is typically outsourced to specialists in pre-press companies who work closely with the printers and make sure that your printed artwork is as close to the digital copy as possible.

Above all, keeping the printer in the loop from the early stages of design is probably the most important thing that will reduce the anxiety and frustrations when the artwork is sent to print.

In the next article we will dive deeper into some of the Pre-Flight checks and how they help the print process.

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