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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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