5 tips on digital print design when you need digital printing

Digital_Print_designDigital print design needs are different

Both offset and digital printing give you a quality finished product. So why should you choose one over the other? You don’t, if it is a print job where thousands of impressions are needed. Then, offset is likely the better choice. But if variable data printing (VDP) or on-demand printing play a big role in your marketing campaign, then going digital makes more sense.

VDP lets you customize and personalize your direct mail marketing campaigns. With it you can create direct mail pieces that are not only arresting, but that also appeal to your target audience. Digital is also ideal when the print job calls for the pieces to be created in smaller quantities. It is a lot like just in time manufacturing, only instead of widgets it is all about turning out printed pieces on an as needed basis. On-demand printing became a viable way to go after the birth of digital printing because it became economical for businesses to print marketing materials in smaller quantities.

So you see, it is the requirements of the project that determine which press to choose.

Ins and outs of digital printing

Should your print job require (VDP) variable data printing or on-demand printing, then digital is the way to go. But there are also additional things to consider when getting a job ready for a digital press. Below are 5 important things to keep in mind when you are designing for a digital printing.

Color is front and center

When going with digital, always color correct your images in the RGB color space before converting to CMYK. That is because when images are converted from RGB to CMYK, a lot of information regarding color is lost in the switch. As a result you have fewer colors to work with. Another point to consider is that when your images are converted from RGB to CMYK, you create the black separation. This cuts down on the amount of CMY in your images. Having less CMY in your separation makes it far more difficult, if not impossible, for you to make color adjustments to your images. Please note these considerations should you choose to go digital.

Testing, testing one, two, free

The digital world is a place where many things can be had for free. Fonts fall into that category. Free fonts can be yours just for the taking or should I say, just for the downloading. But please be aware some of them contain restrictions that block you from using them when creating PDFs and for printing. If you do not test them beforehand, you run the risk of not finding this out until you have finished designing your job. That is not only a drag, it is also a great waste of your time and efforts. So test before you leap. Testing fonts is easy. All you have to do is activate the font on your system. Next, create an InDesign or QuarkXPress document with that font. And lastly, export the page and try to create a PDF. If the PDF is created without any warning messages popping up, then your free font is ready to be embedded

Solids don’t always hold together with digital

Offset presses use inks. That allows them to reproduce solids evenly. Digital devices use toner, which has a tendency to make solid areas print unevenly. Why is this? Ink is a liquid that is absorbed by the fibers of the paper. Conversely, toner is applied dry, and therefore is not absorbed. It is fused to the sheet using a combination of heat and fuser oil that creates a bond. A lot of things, like how the toner is applied, and how evenly it was fused to the paper, determine how evenly solids are printed. Before you leave your design job to chance, try applying a filter such as Photoshop Add Noise or Texture to any of your large tint or solid areas. You can also break up your large color areas with elements like text, images or illustrations.

Fold them and weep

Remember how we just discussed that toner is fused to the paper surface as opposed to being absorbed like ink? Besides uneven solids, how it is applied can make it prone to cracking along folds. Yes, it is one more thing to worry about. The best way to get around cracking is to use thin lines, rules and headline text across any folds. This way the cracking is limited and far less visible. If, on the other hand, a large solid area is a must for your design, instruct your print service provider to score the printed sheets before they are folded. This will help to limit any unsightly cracking that occurs in the final folding.

It is not all black and white

In any discussion about color, fonts, solids and folding, it is important to stress that digital presses have improved greatly over the past few years, but not every digital press is the same. This is why it is important to discuss your project in detail with your printer before you begin designing. That way you can make sure none of the issues I brought up regarding digital print design turn into problems for you.

Yes, there are a number of things to consider with digital print design. But if your job requires (VDP) Variable Data Printing or on-demand printing, then the advancements made to digital printing in the 21st century assure you the best solution at the most affordable price.

Best of Days to You,

Audrey Ferrante
Ferrante & Associates, Inc.


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