"More Helpful Hints about what to Include When Submitting Jobs"
[Column #18, 6/96]
I'd like to pick up where I left off in last month's column and continue our discussion about things you can do to get the best from your finisher. Last month, we touched on the importance of providing support documentation when you send materials for finishing. In this column, I'd like to discuss issues pertaining to artwork.
While most of your clients are now submitting electronic art, most finishers still prefer to work with artboards or positives, since they enable us to immediately spot errors or omissions. That's not to say, we can't accept electronic files. In fact, my company will often generate positives from a client's electronic art before the job is printed, so we can get a jump on producing dies. But, and this is important, a note of caution is in order if you do send us electronic files. Because electronic files are so easy to change, clients often will make last-minute changes after the file has been sent to us. Needless to say, this can create serious problems when the job comes in and it no longer matches the die. Be certain your finishing house has the same version of your client's art that you have.
Here are some other things to watch out for.
Artboards. Clients often forget to include diecuts for business card slits on artwork for presentation folders, an omission that can be very expensive to fix. This happens so frequently, in fact, that my company has an established policy to always ask about business cards whenever a presentation folder job comes in.
Also, clients frequently fail to include proper allowance for glue tabs on presentation folder artboards. Often they place crop marks in live image areas. And, when they submit film for folders that are to be UV coated, they often omit rule-outs of the positive areas to be coated.
Sometimes printers are responsible for errors. Done with the best of intentions, they will reverse out the areas on the folder to be foil-stamped. This, in fact, makes our job more difficult. Since foil is easily applied over ink and varnishes, as long as they are wax-free, it's easier for us if we're not forced to lay the foil in exact registration with reversed out areas.
When you submit artwork for folder projects, include samples, written descriptions and specific instructions. This further ensures we catch errors and oversights before going into production.
Dummies and drawings for dies. Because embossing and debossing are dimensional, the proper manufacture of dies for these processes is especially helped by a model or, at least, a detailed written description of expected results. Take a recent example. A client of one of my customers ordered a magnesium die on a project. When we met to review the job, he described a multilevel impression with beveled edges. After we showed him samples of work, it was clear he was expecting a pretty intricate emboss. We easily persuaded him to purchase a brass die. Though more expensive, brass dies are hand-tooled and, so, offer more levels and finer detail than chemically-etched magnesium dies.
For single-level emboss dies, art should be submitted as film or as high-resolution, black-and-white mechanicals. In general, designs should be slightly oversized and the lines heavier, at least two pts. wide, than if they were to be printed. Thin lines and highly intricate designs should be avoided, since they are more unlikely to make an impression into the paper.
In cases where the emboss requires subtle detail, an actual model is invaluable. Some designers provide us with a representation cut out of layered artboard. A tissue overlay illustrating each level or a cross-section of the entire impression also helps. Designers who are skilled in working with computer-aided design (CAD) systems provide us with a three-dimensional drawing which, again, helps us define the impression levels.
One-up proofs for packaging. Because of their complexity and use of a number of different finishing processes, packaging products require a lot more up-front involvement by us than other products. Not only are we often asked to sit in on early design discussions between the printer and client, we also may work directly with the client to produce actual samples on our equipment. This allows customers to see what the product will actually look like, built to specifications, using the chosen stock and including all finishing processes. After selecting the one-off proof that meets his requirements, the designer then adjusts graphic elements to fit the dimensions of the package.
Prepping for UV coating. The preparation of materials for UV coating is necessarily more directed to the printer than to the designer, since it primarily involves chemical considerations. Like foil-stamping, UV coating adheres best to inks that are completely dry and free of paraffin waxes, silicones or other slip additives. Also, alkaline-based pigments, such as Reflex blue, Rhodamine red and PMS purple, should be avoided. While it's possible to apply UV coating over these inks, they have a tendency to bleed or change color. UV coating can be applied over foil stamping, although the reverse isn't true. UV coating can also be applied over varnishes, as long as they are wax free.
As you know, if UV coating is applied over offset powders, the surface of the sheet may end up with a sandpaper texture. If a spray powder is necessary, make it a small particle (30-50 micron) powder and use the least amount possible. Some of my customers have found that running the printed sheets through a blank press unit greatly reduces traces of the powder.
We ask printers not to trim sheets when they send us jobs for coating. This is particularly true for material that's to be spot-coated, since we need the full press sheet with actual gripper and guide marks to register to the printed portions to be coated. Also, send along a sample sheet with gripper and guide marks for projects to be diecut or embossed.
Since there's more on this subject than I have room for in this column, here's a simple rule. If you want to make sure the artwork you submit for finishing is accurate and will result in a product that meets your client's expectations, call your finisher. Only he knows for sure.