When ordering any sort of service, most of us are usually only concerned with the end result.If we take our car or computer in for repairs, we are rarely interested in the specific actions taken by the repair person, only that we can drive our car again or use our computer.
Many people view their printing projects the same way.The details are less important than the result and the only thing that matters is the way the final product looks.
However, understanding the way a project is processed and each of the individual steps can allow the savvy customer extra insurance that his or her project will be perfect as they will have made all the right decisions along the way.
Step 1:Upload the Image
All projects begin with a basic idea which is then translated to an image.Before you upload your image, you need to look at the image and determine whether it will be able to be reproduced on your chosen printed medium.For example, a large image with many small details is probably not going to be reproduced properly on a business card or a small postcard.
Also, as will be shown below, the entire image may not be in the final product, so having an idea of the limitations of your chosen printed media and how they may apply to your idea is important.
To illustrate how the process works, we are going to take a sample image, namely the U-Printing corporate logo, and take it through the process of putting it on a business card.This first image is a jpeg copy of the logo.
Step 2:The Live Preview Image
Live Preview is just what the name implies, a preview of your image with the proper formatting applied.In creating the preview image, U-Printing’s automated Live Preview system automatically marks the bleeds and live area for the finished product.
What this does is allow you to see what areas of your chosen image will most likely be on the finished product.
This is one of the situations where understanding the process can help you perfect the final result.This is an opportunity to get an idea of how the final image will look and where elements of your image will fall on the final product.
By carefully reviewing the preview image, you can determine what needs to be changed on your image before you get too far into the process to make changes.
For example, if an important piece of your advertising falls outside the live area, you can see this in the preview image.This would allow you to change the image on your own computer and then re-upload it until you have a preview image which is laid out properly and looks the way you want it to look.
One of the things that customers need to be aware of is the fact that the preview image is just that, a preview image.It is not what the final project will look like, so if there are issues with the colors or if it looks slightly different than the image looks on the customer’s computer, it is not a cause for concern.
The primary purpose of the preview is to show a general look at the proposed project, so that the customer can adjust his or her image before sending it off to the next step.
Following along with our proposed project, here is our jpeg logo again, this time, as a preview image.
Step 3:The Proof
A.The Pre-Press Process
After the customer submits the preview image for proofing, the image goes through our pre-press process.During that process, the pre-press team reviews the image checking print resolution and fonts.They also check to make sure that the image size is proper and will fit within the areas reserved as bleeds as well as checking if any ordered folding will result in important information being cut off or placed within the fold.Finally, the pre-press team will convert the color space (if necessary) from RGB to CMYK to make transferring the image easier and more efficient.
B. Electronic v. Hardcopy Proofs
Once the pre-press team is done with its work, the result is a print ready proof which is then immediately available to the customer.The proof is completely print ready, with Trim Marks, Bleed Marks, Registration Marks and Color Bars already in place on the proof.As a result, the customer can take this proof and order a complete printing project.To show what the proof will look like, here’s the proof for our business card project:
There are two options in how a customer can receive his or her proof, either electronically or as a hardcopy.Unlike most online companies, who use automated proofing, our proofs are prepared by a real person opening up your file and inspecting it by hand.
The standard method is to use an electronic proof, which is a PDF file uploaded to the website by the pre-press team.This allows for an immediate review of the proof and a more rapid move from the review process to an actual printing order.
Alternatively, for a fee, you can order a hardcopy proof.This proof is prepared on our highly calibrated EPSON Color Proofing System and can be delivered with a turnaround of one business day from when the proof is ordered.
The hardcopy proof is an option that should be seriously considered for offset projects, as well as larger projects like catalogs, where getting the exact colors right is essential.
Step 4: Your finished product
Once you’ve approved the proof, the last step is for the proof to be turned into a finished product.If you’ve taken advantage of all the steps above, you’re well on the way to having that finished product be exactly what you wanted it to look like.