A subset of graphic design, designing for print (or simply print design) involves creating a design that does not only look perfect on the screen but also comes out just as perfect in print. Achieving this requires an in-depth knowledge of things like color profiles, image resolution, image sizing and aspect ratio. But sometimes, even experts make mistakes. Here are some common digital printing mistakes and how to avoid them.
Creating a design in RGB instead of CMYK
RGB (red, green, blue) is an additive color scheme that uses light to mix pigments. The more light you add to an image, the brighter the color becomes. The problem with RGB is that it looks great on the screen, but comes out in inaccurate colors in print. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key) is a subtractive color scheme that uses a mix of inks to create different colors. The more ink you mix, the darker the color becomes. CMYK is perfect for printing. But beginners are often unaware of the difference and create their design in RGB format. If your colors do not come out as good in print as on the screen, then the simple solution is to switch to CMYK.
Using Photoshop’s default CMYK value for black
One thing you may not be aware of is that Photoshop’s default black consumes a lot of ink. Look at its CMYK value and you will see it as 75,68,67,90. This means 75% cyan, 68% magenta, 67% yellow and 90% black, which adds up to a 300 percent total coverage. Printing with Photoshop’s default black is a huge waste of ink. Instead of using the CMYK default value, set it manually. A popular value for rich black is 50,40,40,100. Be careful not to set it to 0,0,0,100 as it will appear more dark grey than black when printing.
Setting CMYK color values too high
In the CMYK color scheme, every other color is a mix of the four primary colors: cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). Thus, the higher the CMYK values, the richer the colors will be. However, setting the values too high can spoil an image because of the way colored inks are mixed and also because of the way printing surfaces absorb ink. An image with a coverage of more than 280% (for example 89,78,86,70) may come out as an ugly muddy color in print, although it may look great on the screen. So, make sure that you do not set the CMYK values to high.
Setting the image resolution for the screen
What you see on the screen is usually not what you will get in print. But beginners often forget this and set the resolution for the screen. A resolution has different meanings for the screen and print. On the screen, it determines how large an image will appear. In print, it determines how sharp and crisp it will appear. A resolution of 72ppi is fine for the screen, but it is simply not adequate for printing. The minimum resolution for good quality printout is 300ppi. Therefore, you should set the resolution for printing and not for the screen. Also, you cannot change your resolution after you have saved the image; so make sure to set the resolution before saving it.
So the next time you sit down to create a design for your print, make sure that you remember not to make these mistakes. Ink is expensive and low image quality can defeat the purpose of finding the best digital printers around.