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Tips and tricks for proper prints

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I'd like to hear from other COLOURlovers that print more than the average Word document on a regular basis.

What tools do you use to mockup your page layouts?

Is your monitor properly calibrated? If so, how often do you calibrate it?

What's the one thing you wish someone told you when you first started out as a print designer?

Share your tips and tricks!


Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, but everything ends up in InDesign by the end for print work.

Monitor calibration is such a tricky beast because half of the time I'm working on web design. I've never invested in a physical calibrator, I just tinker with software settings. My Photoshop profiles are usually set for web, and at this point I don't understand what InDesign or Illustrator do with profiles. I've gone to a 2 monitor setup, using a 1998 CRT Monitor to proof colors for print. Somehow that relic has never let me down.

I'd love to get a very simpliified but complete tutorial for setting up the Adobe Suite's (not just photoshop) color settings for web, and also what the best settings are for print. Also a good review of physical calibration devices and what potential impact they can have for web design.

I wish someone had told when I first started out that vector type is soo much crisper than raster and explained how and when to use spot colors.


Page layout: InDesign and Quark XPress (7 cuz 8 sucks more than 7)
Raster: Photoshop
Vector: Illustrator
Animation: Flash
HTML: Dreamweaver
Video: Premier, After Effects
CD/DVD Presentations: Director
All inter-office: MS Office

Do I calibrate my monitor? Sure do. Because I also work in video and on a mac, I use the standard 2.2 gamma which is halfway between a mac and a pc and it's recommended for anyone working in video. I've been using a 2.2 gamma setting for years. I will also manually calibrate just because I'm fussy that way and with the extended controls, I can push the whitepoint back a bit so it's not a solar flare in my face. It also extends the life of the monitor by doing that. I calibrate once a month because monitors always go out of sync. How often they do depends on how old they are.

Also, because I use CS4, I use Adobe Bridge to calibrate and sync all Adobe products at once (Bridge > Edit > Creative Suite Color Settings ). I use North American Web/Internet because it uses the sRGB setting which is the default RGB colour for all web graphics anyway.

When I want to work in print, I use North American Prepress 2 because the profile warnings are not disabled, so I can be alerted to any profile conversion I need to do on any incoming files. Bridge works so much faster now, it's easy to flip between one and the other.

Secondly, I use Assign Profile to convert colour correctly in CS4.

I use vector whenever I can and often paste into PSD as a Smart Object. I've always preferred vector over raster because of their scalability and retainable crispness.

For the MS Office stuff: When I'm working on files sent from a client that are in Word it's important to know that all Office products operate in RGB. Secondly, they don't like files that are 300dpi. If I'm working on a PowerPoint file and the client has inserted screen rez image, he is never concerned with the visual quality of how that image will reproduce, so if it's only a few images; I will reinsert them at 150dpi.

One trick I can tell you is about PNGs. Because PNGs can save an alpha channel, you can make PNGs that have no background. So you can use PSD to clip out a background and insert it over another image or background colour in Word or PowerPoint. You have to remember though, that with some versions of Word (PC), the transparent background will default to black and you will have to use the Transparent color selector to reset it back to no colour.

The one thing I wish I was told when I first started is the person next to you who is telling you he is a designer, is not always a designer.


I use Illustrator for laying out my artworks for the print. Don't forget CMYK mode, because it is necessary color mode for the printing purpose.


Hi guys!!

Nice discussion going on; defenitely shouldn't forget the CMYK mode for the printing. I'm part of www.choosa.net design community and within their community I actually learnt quite a lot as well :)


daxx, your post about Office programs is a Godsend today. I don't set up graphics much in these programs, but a client asked for an editable Word template using their branding for quick sales flyers. That info will greatly help!


What tools do you use to mockup your page layouts?
Ai for vector stuff
PS for raster images
iD for layouts.
Ai for website wire frames

altho sometimes if there is not alot of text involved i use Ai instead cause inDesign is pretty much the bastard son of adobe and never works as well as the others, im not really a fan.

Calibrated: yes. how often: not often at all. only recently learnt how to do it.

what i wish someone told me:

for art school:
"hey how ever much time you spend on that add a few extra hours to print it out! printing is a bitch!"

for life after art school:
"once a client starts acting shady let them go right away. don't stick around and think that it will all add up because people out there are dog eat dog."


If you are working with a print house, ask them for their colour calibred profiles they use on their presses and add it to your QuarkXpress or Indesign page layout programs or to Photoshop so your work matches the printer's colour print specifications. Only those who are actually scanning and retouching photos to customer specs, aka kodak proofs, would also like to consider calibrating their monitor to the print house as well.
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Recent Discussion Comments

Posted 4 hours ago
1. I don't care whether you support my campaign or not. Besides, thoughts of witch hunts, branding irons, welts, etc. are perverse, those pictures all come from you, I deny them. My ultimate rebuke, after a lot of explaining, and encouragement, tells someone I can't respect their actions because they violate my code of honor, after which I ignore them until they shape up. I don't go any further. So it's best you don't participate in the proposed action. If that is the way you think, I certainly would never hire you for faculty in a private school.

2. Damages in euros etc. I am not discussing. I'm talking about Art. Best practices, and originality. If someone doesn't care about those after mild and mannered discussion, when you confront them with date stamped proof of their actions, then I cannot further respect them as an artist. I'm free to speak my mind about that. That doesn't mean I want them to quit the site or go jump off a bridge, certainly not hang them. That just means I know how they behave going forward, and I'm free to form an opinion about them. People can form whatever opinion about me in return, based on my art, actions and deeds. I've worked hard to become an asset to this site. I like to think I have earned respect because of it. But I never count on it.

3. I don't care whether you could follow every minute of this discussion for two weeks. I don't care that my discussion about and endorsement of appropriate shame appears in a forum that appears around the world. That's what public forums are for. People should be able to speak their minds, right or wrong, and be able to freely make mistakes, or conversely, excellent points. When a topic has had no action for two weeks, you should understand it's a dead topic. If you revive it, you beat a dead horse, or you're trying to begin a new horse beating. I bet you didn't even look at the date. That is on you.

4. You are correct that memories attatched to shaming are carried for a long time, that is my point. "If my mother had caught me doing such a thing, she would have tanned my behind." "My old teacher would have had a heart attack." "My grandparents would be rolling in their graves." "My sister would have been so disappointed in me," etc. Those are generally good lessons, that we have internalized, admitted to, and grown past. Administered to us by people who care.
Just Perfect Color
Just Perfect Color
Posted 6 hours ago
If you propose, I will support your shaming campaign so long as we can make branding irons, heat them up, and burn the imprints into the foreheads of those an angry mob decides are offenders.

Intellectual property claims, whether exact duplicates, are absolutely irrelevant given the nature of this site. Why in the world would you post things to a site like this hoping people, all over the world, would respect your rights? Some of them live in countries that do not have to by the way.

And how have you, save for your ego, been damaged by all this? You have lost millions of euros or dollars through plagarism on this site? Sorry, but you just seem too emotionally charged to be rational.

This is plain and simple, dangerous and stupid. Beyond that, as I have said before, you could really hurt somebody if you are wrong in your witch hunt. It is usually much to late to say sorry to someone when its over because, you know? They would be damaged goods from your crusade.

PS. Sorry I could not follow this discussion every minute for two weeks. Sometimes I have other places to visit and other sites on which to spend my time and attention. I really appreciated your observation though so I read all the comments over the two weeks. I think I am up to speed.

PSS. Shaming anyone builds the memories they will remember later; even if they survive the shaming, hazing, shunning or whatever you want to call it. Such encounters shape their lives and attitudes forever and always. They might forgive, but they will always remember.
Just Perfect Color
Just Perfect Color
Posted 6 hours ago
If you are talking about me, I am flattered. I have never been called both at the same time as I remember. Thank you so much!

If you are done breathing fire out your nose, and can ever possibly calm down? Could you bring yourself to listen to those trying to help you in this? May I suggest something to you? With fire extinguisher in hand? And a dragon slayer on the roof of my condo building?

If you are not already a member, think about joining the Graphic Artists Guild. It is one of the best artists' rights orgs in the US. Members get all sorts of benefits including legal advice (to a point) in a pinch. Lots of pattern repeat designers are members. You might get more enthusiasm there but not for a shaming campaign.
Posted 6 hours ago
That website is brilliant, Deslyn! Thank you for sharing it with us.

DeslynBrown wrote:
One website I use frequently is encycolorpedia.com. You might want to input your color there and then check out the pentadic or hexadic sections. This will give you different colors all around the color wheel that complement the original color in some way, and each color is of the exact same saturation and lightness levels, which is what I believe you're looking for. You would want to alter the "S" and "V", but not the "H". Here is an example of the color you gave here:

Posted 6 hours ago
My goodness, you are literal. As well as irrelevant. Bless your heart.

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