By Mike Rankin | Thursday, October 27, 2011
Will it print?
Those three words almost inevitably follow any discussion of graphic effects. And with very good reason. If you are designing and producing layouts for print, Will it print? is the most important question. It’s where the rubber meets the road, or in the case of an offset printing press, where the rubber meets the paper.
I can totally understand the desire for caution and even a bit of apprehension associated with printing transparency FX. There’s no Undo button on a printing press. In everyone’s work, there are deadlines that must be met, and often a lot of money at stake, and things have to work. At one point in my career I worked as a prepress specialist for a large publisher. It was my job to process PDFs that were used to print our books using Kodak’s Prinergy system, which many commercial printers use. We bought Prinergy because we had very complex files and we had experienced difficulties in the past getting them printed the way we wanted. We decided to take full responsibility and control over everything print-related: transparency flattening, color management, overprinting, trapping, you name it. And it worked. We got the results we wanted, and it was exciting to have almost end-to-end control of the workflow, from prototype to printing press.
Obviously that was a pretty unusual situation. Almost all designers are going to rely on someone else to output their work. And every situation is different. There are different workflows, different design requirements, different RIPs, different printing hardware. So ultimately Will it print? is a question without a single answer. I can definitively state that everything shown in the InDesign FX series can be printed, on anything from a desktop inkjet to a printing press. But the real question people are asking isn’t Will it print? but How do I get it to print in my situation? or What steps do I have to take to get it to print? Getting high-quality print output is not a passive thing but an active thing. That is why I spend most of the time in this week’s video talking about how to work with your print vendor. I talk about communicating, testing, and proofing your work so you know that what’s on the page will come out right.
To put things in context, I often like to point out that transparency is not new, cutting edge stuff. We’re not beta testers. The underlying technology is older than some of the people who use it. Its roots in PostScript are more than 20 years old. Acrobat has supported live transparency for more than 10 years. Postscript 3 came out in 1997. The Adobe PDF Print engine came out in spring 2006 (when InDesign CS2 was the latest and greatest). So it’s OK to embrace this stuff and use it. Of course, even in this day and age, there are things that should be avoided, like applying blending modes to spot colored objects. That can lead to problems because the spot color will be separated where it blends, instead of staying where it belongs, on the spot plate. As long as there is ink and paper, there will be rules and best practices to follow. So as a bonus to accompany this week’s video, here are my Top 5 Tips for Getting FX to Print the Way You Want:
For lynda.com members, I have another new video this week exclusively in the Online Training Library® called Getting FX Into Ebooks.
And I’ll see you here again in two weeks with another InDesign effect.
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Tags: InDesign, InDesign FX, Mike Rankin, Printing
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