So regular black in printing terms is when the K (black) in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) is at 100%, which would be indicated like this:
To make a black even blacker, you can add in more of the other colours. Our recommended rich black is:
You don’t want to add too much ink, otherwise there is a risk that there is so much that the ink actually cracks on the page – not good!
You also don’t want to use rich black for text, as that can lead to it being fuzzy when too much ink is applied.
Still confused about rich black? Don’t worry about it! It’s a designer term, and your design software will most likely output black as K 100, so it’s all good.
Remember, if in doubt, submit your file to us for a quick health check prior to uploading. We’ll tell you if there’s any problems!]]>
Not sure what we’re talking about? Crop marks are the little black lines that indicate the edges of a document, without actually intersecting it. Here’s a white example:
Let’s say I was designing a really simple business card for myself, but I wanted the card to have a background. Here’s how it would look with crop marks:
I’ve made the bleed extra large just so you can see the crop marks doing their job.]]>
Actually, not quite. It’s just an industry term for keeping anything important (text, images, graphics) away from the cut line of your document. It’s generally best to do this by the same amount as the recommended bleed (we ask for 3mm for most products, and 5mm for booklets & calendars), and it just allows for any variance in cutting, either by our automated cutting methods or by hand guillotining.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have any colour going over the edge – no no no, that’s the whole idea of printing full bleed products! It just has to be the unimportant stuff that is within 3mm of the cut line, like the background colour or parts of images that aren’t important. Just make sure there’s no legible text near the cut line, as prepress tends to have a little hissy-fit when they see that.]]>
Make sure your artwork is the right size!
The artwork you supply for printing should be equivalent to the final sheet size you’re after, plus the required 3mm bleed on each edge. Here’s an example:
Final size: 297 x 210mm
Total bleed (3mm on each edge): 6mm
Print ready size: 303mm x 216mm
You can quickly and easily check the size of your PDF by selecting File > Properties then it’s under “Page Size” in the Advanced box.
Remember, if you send your final PDF through to us we can always tell you how you’re going, free of charge.]]>
What is resolution? I’m glad you asked!
Resolution is the number of dots per inch (DPI – don’t ask us why we still tend to use DPI in an otherwise metric system. I do, after all, say that I’m 6ft tall, but I measure everything else by metric. Go figure.), and the standard actually changes depending on what your looking at. Here’s a couple of different points:
Computer Screen: Your computer screen displays everything at 72dpi. This means that every image you pull off the ‘net is 72dpi (unless you purchase from stock photography places, or similar), and is about a quarter of the resolution it needs to be for print.
Fine Art: Fine Art printers quite often print up to (and beyond!) 1440dpi, which is an intense resolution and can produce some amazing results. Unfortunately this slows down printing and makes files huge, so regular offset and digital printing is somewhat scaled down from that, while still producing good replication.
Your Eye: The human eye can observe about 447dpi at a distance of about 30cm, so that’s a higher resolution that what we print at, but not by much. Generally folks need a magnifying glass to see the dots on our printed items, so we’re doing the right thing!
Are my images high enough resolution?
An easy way to tell if your images are high enough resolution is to view your final PDF. Zoom in on that PDF using the magnifying tool to about 300%. If at this resolution the images still look clean and clear, then you’re fine. If they look at all pixellated (blocky), then you’ve got some problems, and it’s time to either shrink or replace some images.
Quality programs like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop all have methods of indicating what DPI an image is, and remember when you start designing to have your project set to 300dpi rather than 72dpi.
Here’s a couple of examples, using a picture of some frogs eggs one of our support staff took recently:
While this is an extreme example, it shows what an image can look like when it’s too low in resolution to print.
Remember, if you send your final PDF through to us we can always tell you how you’re going, free of charge.]]>
1-up format is pretty simple really – it’s just where a PDF is displayed 1 page at a time, just like regular PDFs that you might output out of Word or whatever.
It’s basically printers slang to say that we only want the design one page at a time so we don’t get the front and back of a flyer embedded on a single page, or with booklets they can be supplied as “spreads” which is where the pages that would be facing each other in the actual booklet are supplied like that in the file. Here’s a quick little guide:
3. Thou shalt embed all text/fonts, and outline any non-standard fonts.
Embedding your fonts means that if someone doesn’t have the same fonts installed as you have on your machine, they can still view your PDF as it should be. This is because the font is actually included in the PDF. This is handy for printing, as if we haven’t got the same fonts as you the design can go pretty pear-shaped.
Saving a PDF with fonts embedded is easy to do! Within Adobe programs when saving your design as a PDF, just select the “press ready” option and that will set it up for you.
If you’re using an especially funky font, or one you’ve made yourself, you may want to consider converting it to outlines.
If you’re unsure how to do any of this, just get in contact with our friendly support staff and let them know what software you’re using. They’ll then be able to guide you on how best to save your design for commercial printing.]]>
But are they really? And discounted compared to what? Anything will appear discounted when you put it next to an inflated price, like a certain national chain of retail stores that shows you all their prices next to a ridiculously expensive, but crossed out, price.
It’s all a bit of a marketing gimmick really. It’s about resetting your notion of what the price should be, where if you see the giant original price and that fact that you’re getting 50% off that price (for a limited time!), then you’re more likely to see the price in a good light.
We like data here at Australian Quality Printing, so for shirts and giggles we Googled “Discount Printing”, and compared the prices of the top 10 organic results with prices available for 5000 A4, 6pp trifold brochures on 150gsm stock, or as close as we could get to it. No names here, just prices for reference:
You can see for yourself that there is a massive discrepancy in prices. The most expensive is more than 300% higher than the cheapest, with the average price coming in at $822, or $269 more expensive than the most reasonably priced.
We’re on that list by the way, appearing at the top of the second page of results. Our price? If you look at our brochures page, you’ll see that we come in at $553. That’s right, we’re the best priced, but we only appear on the second page of results for Discount Printing.
Keep in mind that all these sites are focusing on the key words like Discount Printing, but they’re also featuring other terms like Cheap Printing, Low Cost Printing, and all the variations their writers can think of… but are they actually offering what they say?]]>
When you type the term “cheap business cards” into Google, you get thousands of matches, hundreds of companies vying for your attention, and all the ads are promising the world. The best known of the lot is the “500lb Gorilla” in the international online printing room, Vistaprint. You know, they’re the ones that promise you free business cards and free everything else while you’re there.
We decided to test to see how Vistaprint compared with our online print services in terms of ease of use, price and print result.
Step 1: Ease of use
Finding Vistaprint is easy, all you need to do is Google anything print related and you’ll get their ads front and center. It’s once you click on those ads that the mission starts…
It was my intention to compare the cheap business cards from Vistaprint with those printed by us for a close customer of ours, and print them as cheaply as possible. So first up, I selected the “free business cards!” link. I then realised that the free business cards are only if you use their designs, and enter your details in online.
This means that I have to opt for their next level up of business cards, and select:
250 Premium Business Cards, $37.49 (500 would have been $54.99)
I then had to upload the file. Hang on, Vista prints on a different size format to regular Australian business cards, so I have to find a template (hideously difficult), get the dimensions, go back to the client, request a new file with the correct dimensions, then upload it. Done.
Then the options start.
What stock would I like? I choose the 300gsm matte stock that is included in the price. To get gloss (included in all our cards) I would have had to pay another $13.99.
Do I want business card holders? No.
Do I want printing on the reverse side? Yes! This costs me an additional $21.99, and opens up a new uploader for the reverse side. It takes me a good 5 minutes to work out how to upload my reverse side, and I have to split my 2 page PDF file up to get it to insert the correct file.
Current cost: $59.48
Do I want a consistent look with stickers and bag tags based on my business card design? No.
Customers also bought these items: No.
Get your business online in no time? Huh? I wanted business cards, not a website! No.
This brings me to the shopping cart page, where I discover that $6.99 has been added on to the cost for each side of the business card that I’ve uploaded.
Current cost: $73.46 (Hey! Apparently I’ve saved $4.00!)
Checkout. NOW it tells me that I also have to pay for postage. $6.91 to get it delivered in 21 days, $17.03 for 14 days, $18.48 for 7 days and $26.98 3 business days. Compare that to our included shipping & 3 – 5 business day turnaround. I opt for the 21 day turnaround.
Current cost: $80.37
Add my address, pay with credit card, and done. Then I wait. And wait a bit longer.
My review of Vistaprint’s online ordering system? I’d rather stick pins in my eyes than use it.
Step 2: Price comparison
So the total cost of printing 250, 300gsm cards at Vistaprint was $80.37, plus the cost of years of psychiatric help to get over their checkout process.
If you hop onto our Business Cards page, you can quickly and easily calculate the total cost of your cards, including shipping, there and then. The closest equivalent to the Vistaprint cards comes with these stats:
250 business cards
310gsm gloss stock
full colour both sides
Delivery & GST included
Total cost: $58
And you can work that out on one page.
So our closest equivalent cards are $22.37 cheaper than the “free business cards”. Does that affect the quality though?
Step 3: Quality comparison
See for yourself:
For reference, that’s our card on the right, and the one from Vistaprint on the left. The only changes we made to the original picture is cropping and blurring out the web address of our client.
You can see on the Vistaprint card that the colours don’t pop, the printing is textured (bad screens on the press, I believe), and the stock is woeful. Added to that, they are much smaller in size meaning that the same information is cramped and harder to read.
Step 4: Consensus
I’m guessing I don’t need to spell it out for you, because the evidence stacks up against Vistaprint like weights on Liberty’s scales. They cost more, are harder to order and look like crap in comparison to our cards.
Got something to say about Vistaprint, or your experiences with them? Pipe up in the comments below!]]>
Go Go Go!