Print’s Not Dead, It’s Just Getting Started

November 2, 2009 by alenz · 1 Comment
Filed under: Educational, Press Releases, Technology 

For a long time, print was the only way to communicate a message to the masses. Radio, television, and the web eventually came into the mix, giving users exciting new ways to reach their audience. Twitter, the Kindle, and smart phones continue to change the game every single day. 

Print has admittedly taken for granted it’s traditional role as the predominant medium, and other channels have been free to carve a huge chunk out of the marketplace for themselves. But other channels have their limits, and print still has plenty of tricks up it’s sleeve.

http://www.piag.org/TwainQuote.gifWhen I hear people saying “Print is Dead”, I am shocked at how little is known about its dynamic capabilities. Not only does print (traditional and digital) have a place “in the mix”, the print industry is a leader with its tried and true history of adapting to new technology and customer demand in order to stay relevant and innovative.

Printers are creating pieces that change copy and imagery according to our likes and dislikes, age, sex, income, etc. Through large format technology, entire buildings and vehicles are being wrapped in print. There are eco-friendly seed papers that can be planted after use, special varnishes and finishing processes that provide texture, glitter, pop, scent – the amazing experiences you can provide only through print are endless!

Right in our own backyard, Georgia’s printers are producing some of the most powerful and compelling examples of how print can be used better than any other medium. Ask your printer what they can do to make your next job stand out from the competition, and you’ll see their eyes light up as they tell you everything that’s here, and everything that’s coming. Printers are passionate about their craft, and for good reason. No other media offers the same visual, tactile, human experience…or has undergone the world-changing advancements that print has.

Ashley Lenz
The Printing & Imaging Association of Georgia (PIAG)
We believe in the power of print, that’s why Georgia Printer magazine, published by PIAG, recently teamed up with Envision Printing, Neenah Paper, & Scentisphere to produce our first-ever bubblegum scented cover. To request a copy, contact me at alenz@piag.org.

Graphics File Formats Demystified

Ever wonder when to use what file format and why a printer will not output from a .gif and a web designer cannot use your .eps?

Here is a listing and explanation of common files and the common uses of each:

First off, to fully understand the differences there are 2 terms that need to be defined; Vector graphics and Raster graphics.

A vector graphic is any graphic that is based off of math which in turn makes vector graphics resolution independent. What all of this printer babble means to you is that if you are using a vector graphic, you can stretch it or enlarge it to any size imaginable and it will still output nice and sharp because the graphic just recalculates the math. Another advantage of a math based graphic is small file sizes.

A raster graphic is a totally different story. Raster graphics are based off of pixels which are basically small chunks of information. For this reason, raster graphics are resolution dependent which means that there is a set amount of information contained in the graphic. If you enlarge the graphic, no real new information is created; which is the reason you see pixels and graininess in printed graphics that do not have enough resolution.

.ai – This is Adobe Illustrator’s native file format. Adobe Illustrator is the most popular vector graphics creation program and .ai files support layers. If your designer is using other Adobe programs for print and/or web design (such as Indesign CS4, Dreamweaver CS4 and/or Flash CS4) .ai files can be imported directly into those programs which makes this a good, high quality file format for your logos for use in print or on the web. Just be sure that that you convert all of your type to curves beforehand. Also, please note that in the final code that is uploaded to your webserver, an ai will be converted to a .jpeg or .gif by Dreamweaver.

.eps – This is also a vector file format and it stands for encapsulated postscript. Postscript is a computer language made to send to output devices such as printers, imagers etc. This is a high quality file format for print and mainly used for logos and similar graphics. Unfortunately, postscript does not display on your computer monitor very accurately so an eps is not a good choice for web graphics. Please note that this is not to be confused with a Photoshop eps which is a raster file format and not vector based.

.tiff – This is the preferred raster file format for printing. A .tiff is preferred for printing because it is considered a lossless file format which means there is not a compression system applied to the graphic that throws away your precious data upon saving and/or opening. Basically, all of the original information captured by the native device is maintained and preserved unless purposely edited. However, because of this, .tiffs will often have large file sizes which makes it a poor choice for use on the web which prefers optimized images with the smallest file sizes possible. Tiffs also support layers.

.jpeg – This is considered a lossy raster file format which means, you guessed it, it applies a compression to graphics that does throw away your data upon saving. Some images are high enough quality that throwing away some original data will not make a visual difference especially with today’s high resolution native capture devices. However, on images that you want or need to preserve all of the data possible and get the best quality out of, this is not a good choice. We can output files with placed jpegs with no issue, however do keep in mind that every time a jpeg is opened in a program, edited and saved it throws away data. This quality makes jpegs file sizes a lot smaller than .tiffs which in turn makes it a preferred file format for use on the web.

.gif – This is considered a lossy raster file format just like the jpeg. A gif can only have a maximum of 256 colors which makes is a low quality image file format that is not acceptable for use in print. Gif files are popular for use on the web due to their ability to display simple images well  with very small file sizes. Gifs can also contain simple animations and transparency.

Zipping your files

August 7, 2009 by Brenda Bell · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Educational, Internet/Web, Prepress, Technology 

So, you have finished your artwork, collected your files for output and need to send them over the internet to us to produce. You could just attach them to an email one by one and go, however, if you do this, the fonts and any postscript files will likely corrupt in transfer. To protect your files from corruption and to save yourself the hassle of having to resubmit parts of your file and thereby risk delaying the project, just compress your files by zipping them before sending. Here’s how:

If you are on a MAC, you have it easy. Just highlight all of the files and/or folders you want to include in your zip folder, ctrl + click (right click if you have a mighty mouse or other 2 button mouse). This will bring up a submenu. Select the option “Create Archive of” (or on some versions of OS X it says “Create Compressed file of”). This will zip all of your files up into one file with a .zip extension.

If you are on a Windows based pc, you will have to download a simple third party program to create zipped file such as WinZip or FreeZip. Follow the simple on screen instructions to create your zip file.

If you are uploading your files to our FTP site, our site will automatically zip your files for you so your files will get to us in one piece.

If you want to unzip a file someone sent to you, just double click. Both Mac’s and Windows based pcs have a unzip utility built in.

Web Browsers that do more

June 15, 2009 by Brenda Bell · 4 Comments
Filed under: Internet/Web, Technology 

A majority of people use the web browser that came bundled with their Windows pcs which is of course Microsoft Internet Explorer without a second thought. However, with rich media and web 2.0 websites, there are a lot of other web browsers out there that may fit your needs better and they are easy to install and use. Most will even import your existing Internet Explorer favorites and settings. Here is a listing and a short blurb of some that you might want to give a try. Clicking on the icons will take you to their download site where you can download and install the browsers for free.

Download Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox
This is the world’s second most popular browser, behind Internet Explorer. Mozilla Firefox is an open source web browser that has a wide variety of add ons available, is twice as fast as Internet Explorer, offers more security, renders pages more accurately and is easier to navigate. With the thousands of plugins and themes available, you can customize the browser to look and do just about anything. I also like it because when using the default theme, it functions the same on both macs and windows computers. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Download Google Chrome
Google Chrome -
This is a free web browser based on the Mozilla browser platform that Google has modified which means renders webpages quickly and accurately. Google originally created it as the browser for it’s Andriod mobile phone operating system (used on such phones as the G1), they have since modified it and released it as a browser for computers. It is just as fast as Firefox, although I find it a little harder to navigate. One of Chrome’s best features is that you can create shortcuts on your desktop for your web applications. For example, I could go to Google docs and tell Chrome to create a shortcut. It would then place a shortcut on my desktop so when I double clicked it, Chrome would open up my Google docs account like an application that was installed locally on the computer. Very handy if you do a lot of cloud computing. Google Chrome is available for Mac and Windows.

Download Safari
Apple Safari -
Safari is the default browser on the Mac OS. Like Chrome, it was also built using Mozilla as its base. Safari is a little slower than Firefox or Chrome, but still offers better performance than Internet Explorer. It is also is easy to use and has a simple and elegant look that ties in nicely with the Apple OS and iPhone OS. While Safari works well on a Mac, on windows based computers it does not function quite as smoothly.  Safari really took off in popularity because Apple uses it on the Apple iphone. Available for Mac and Windows.

Download Flock
Flock –
This is a web browser you may not have heard of before, but is really great for people that like to social network. Flock is basically a modified version of Mozilla Firefox. From Flock you can easily update and keep track of all of your social networking accounts including Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, Picasa;  even update your blog and upload photos. However, because the broswer is constantly checking multiple web accounts and RSS feeds, it uses a bit more resources than a normal web browser so it does run a little slower compared to Firefox. Also, it is more of a personal broswer and might not be the best choice for use at the workplace due to the personal information it stores. Available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

Tips for Submitting a Print Project

There are several simple guidelines that designers and file submitters can follow to avoid unnecessary prepress charges and project delays.

To ensure a file outputs correctly and consistently it is helpful to have the following:

  • The native art file (sometimes called layout file). This is the file that you would produce in a layout program such as Indesign or Quark.
  • All support files. A support file is anything brought into the layout program, such as an image. When you import a file (like an image), the layout program does not place the entire image; it only places a low-resolution preview and creates a link to the actual file. This means if the support file that is referenced in the layout file is not provided, we cannot output that image. Also be sure to update all of your links before submitting files for printing.
  • All fonts. Due to so many different variations and versions of fonts, it is best to have the font used to create the layout to ensure that your type does not re-flow and otherwise look different that intended. Also, it is worth noting not to use the italic and bold buttons within programs. Use the Italic and Bold versions of the actual font.
  • Lasers or a pdf of the file that you are sending us so we can have something to reference to ensure your file outputs the way you intended.

or….

  • A press quality pdf (such as a pdf built to the x1a-2001 standard) with bleeds

Providing us with all of the types of files is very easy these days with built in features in common layout applications. With the click of a mouse, these features will copy all the necessary files into a folder for you.

  • In Indesign this feature is called Package. Package is located under File > Package.
  • In Quark this feature is called Collect for Output. Collect is located under File > Collect for Output
  • In other programs such as Illustrator, Freehand, CorelDraw etc. the files linked in the layout program and the fonts will have to be tracked down and put in a folder manually.

Here are some other guidelines that will help your digital files not only become a printed reality, but look their best while staying on budget and on schedule.

  • Make sure all images are 250 – 300 dpi when placed at 100%
  • Make sure all images are converted to CMYK
  • Build files to final size and in reader’s spreads. This means if your intended product is 5×8, make the page size in your layout 5×8. If the project includes bleeds (where ink runs off the edge of the paper), extend your images or color 1/8 of an inch beyond the edge of the page where bleeds are intended. If your file is built in printer’s spreads, please inform us so that we can make sure your project is imposed properly.

We now have the Adobe CS4

January 16, 2009 by Brenda Bell · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Prepress, Press Releases, Technology 

We now have Adobe CS4 installed and are ready to accept your projects built using CS4 applications. This includes Indesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Photoshop CS4 and Acrobat Professional version 9.

We now have Quark 8

January 16, 2009 by Brenda Bell · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Prepress, Press Releases, Technology 

We now have Quark 8 installed and are ready to accept your projects built using Quark 8.

Welcome

Hi and welcome to Craftsmen Printing’s new blog. I hope you find this blog a good resource and come back to visit often.

Thanks!

Craftsmen