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Your very first press check can be a bit intimidating, especially if you've never been in a running pressroom. Huge, loud equipment, serious busy pressman and your job running at high speed through the rollers. That can make you feel that you're under a little bit of pressure. And if the press run is at two o'clock in the morning, that's not much fun. But it doesn't have to be scary, if you're well-prepared. If you see a press check looming in your future, see if you can go with a friend or colleague to their press check beforehand so that you can see what goes on. What should you bring with you? Well, be sure to bring the contract proof if you have it, a folding dummy if you have that.
Any of your original hardcopy comps, those are really helpful. And if you need any ink or paper swatches that you used as a reference when you were beginning the job, those are handy too. Honestly, it's better to bring too much than to wish you hadn't left something important at home. Oh, and you might think about bringing some snacks and wearing comfortable shoes. Once you're on the press check what should you check? Well, first of all make sure that it's on the correct stock, the stock you specified or agreed on. If there have been corrections made and let's face it there almost always are.
Make sure that those corrections have been made, check against the contract proof or any marked up proofs that were used as a reference for the final version. Take a close look at type, make sure that there's no missing text but an incorrect font hasn't been used, there hasn't been font substitution. Check to see if any text is reflowed, of course look for typos and see if any editing changes have been missed that were specified in the correction round. Make sure that the image crops on the printed sheet correspond to the way they're supposed to look according to your proof.
Check for broken type, make sure there's adequate bleed. Some problems are press problems such as hickeys or picking where the inks sort of pick back off the paper, any pinholes especially in large areas and other little printing problems. Take a look at the position of artwork, with respect to folds and trims, you're going to consult the folding dummy to make sure that things are correct. You want to make sure that something isn't too close to the fold or too close to the trim. Trapping is where one color abuts another color, and there's little bit of overlap. Make sure that you don't see a gap there.
Also check to make sure that lines between color areas aren't too dark, that might mean to heavy a trap. That's something you should catch in the contract proof, you want to make sure that the printed sheet reflects what you approved in the contract proof. As far as color, of course you want to make sure that the general color of the piece matches that contract proof. You want to make sure that color break is correct, in other words, wow should that headline be red or should it be blue? You want to check color consistency across the printed sheet, you should compare multiple printed sheets to each other, so that pages that print across from each other look consistent.
In large color areas, you want to check for modeling or any sort of irregularity in the appearance of the color. Now your printer may have a standard checklist to help you focus too. But this list that you see on screen will help you remember important issues to check. It's easy to forget something when you're in a busy noisy press room watching your job fly through the press at 40 miles an hour. Having a checklist can help you remember the little things. Don't be intimidated by the prospect of your first press check. Remember the printer is your partner, come prepared and well rested and expect to be amazed by what happens in the printing plant.
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