Digital printing — which affords mail advertisers almost infinite opportunities for highly persuasive personalization — demands careful preparation. Sylvia Konkel of EU Services of Rockville, Maryland, offers these six tips on digital production:
TIFF, EPS, and similar image files work best in digital reproduction.
They take up a lot of computer capacity, but produce higher resolution — hence more precise detail and color — than JPG, GIF, and PICT files, which save capacity but sacrifice image information.
Use as least 300 dots per inch resolution to maximize printed detail.
A resolution of 600 dpi may be necessary for better-quality reproduction, Ms. Konkel advises. Line art should have a resolution of at least 1,200 dpi. On the other hand, materials to be displayed on a computer monitor need a resolution of only 72 dpi.
“Adding resolution in Photoshop usually won’t produce a better looking printed image,” Ms. Konkel warns. So grabbing a 72-dpi image from a Web page will not work!
Convert your monitor’s three colors to four process colors.
Computer monitors, and digital cameras, use an RGB — Red, Green, and Blue — color palette. Four-color process printing involves Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) hues. Thus a monitor image can be quite different from that which a digital printer produces. You must convert your colors.
The best way to make certain that you get the exact color characteristics you want is to let your printer handle the color corrections for you.
Treat tinted or solid-color areas gingerly.
To avoid undesirable “banding” — lines between tint transitions — Ms. Konkel advises that you add texture to such areas with Photoshop.
By all means, she counsels, order a digital press proof as early as possible in the design phase, when corrections cost much less in time and money than they will later on!
Enrich black-ink areas.
In four-color CMYK process printing, a 100% black may suffice. However, adding cyan, magenta, or yellow to the black area can produce a “super black” appearance. Castle Press recommends 60% cyan, 30% magenta, 30% yellow, 100% black.
Match the page sizes and bleed areas of your design to the capabilities of the digital press that will print them. Keep logos and other images at the same crop size and quality. Avoid using transparency for variable elements. Use at least six-point type.
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