Understand the Basics

Understand the Basics

Do I need to use CMYK mode?

Yes, for all full colour printing. Color mode must be in CMYK to be a print ready file. If file(s) are submitted using any other color mode, such as RGB or Pantone, the file(s) will be converted to CMYK during preflighting. Conversion from one color standard to another may result in a colors shift or colors dropping out.

File preparation tips

We requires a 1.5mm (1/8") bleed around the perimeter of your artwork to ensure accurate cutting (e.g., artwork for a 4"x6" postcard should extend to 4.25" x 6.25"). If your image has a white border on all four sides, bleeds are recommended but not required. If your image is not white on all four sides, you must include bleeds in print-ready files.

Know about colour printing and proofs, RGB vs CMYK

Viewing color on your monitor

Computer monitors use RGB to display color. RBG stands for Red, Green and Blue. When you print something to the CMYK process, for best results, you need to convert any RBG images, to CMYK images first. Sometimes you’ll see some changes to the image when you make this conversion, so it’s better that you see the changes first before uploading your file.

Also some colors that you see on your screen are very difficult to reproduce exactly using CMYK (or any other printing method). Therefore if you have the software that enables you to process your image into CMYK before you upload the image to PrintNameCard.com, you’ll have a close idea of what you’ll get once the printed products are shipped to you.

Some of the hardest colors to match going from RGB to CMYK are blues.

The differences between monitors

You also have to take into consideration that different monitor types display colors differently. For instance, many LCD or laptop monitors cannot display as much of a range of colors as other monitors. On these monitors, colors can lose contrast and many colors sometimes look similar to others (for instance, dark greens and browns).

Professional designers and prepress companies use color-calibrated monitors to ensure that the color they see on their screens is as close as possible to the actual color of the file. Most home users cannot afford to purchase these very high-end monitors, and therefore have to understand that there will ALWAYS be variance from what they see on the screen to what they see on their printer, or any other output device.

What is Gelloglasing or Laminating?

Laminating is forming or pressing paper or other material into a thin sheet or layer. Clear plastic coating can be laminated onto paper (often by heat) to make the paper stronger, more durable, and resistant to humidity and stains.

We offer a range of boards and finishes to your cards. Matt laminating is by far our most popular, and this is preselected for all new cards printed in offset.

Semi Gloss Vanish A semi gloss art board (310gsm) with a varnish is our most popular finish for offset printing.

Celloglazing - Gloss This is a thin gloss plastic film applied to the front and back of your cards (310gsm).

Celloglazing - Matt This is a thin silky matt plastic film applied to the front and back of your cards (310gsm).

Uncoated Ivory Board. (currently not available) This is a very smooth finished uncoated ivory board (320gsm). Great for writing on. This board is best for cards with a light coverage of ink. It is not suitable for large solid colours or heavy photos.

What is CMYK printing?

To reproduce full-color photographic images, typical printing presses use 4 colors of ink. The four inks are placed on the paper in layers of dots that combine to create the illusion of many more colors. CMYK refers to the 4 ink colors used by the printing press. C is cyan (blue), M is magenta (red), Y is yellow, and K is black, the key plate or keyline color.

A mistake often made when submitting artwork for 4-color printing is not converting the images to the CMYK color space. This is needed so that the file can be separated into the four colors (see example) so that a separate printing plate can be made for each of the colors.

Examples: The illustration on this page shows a color photograph (center) separated into its CMYK components. A separate plate for the printing press would be made from each one. Those areas on the C plate, for example, that are black and shades of gray would print in varying shades of Cyan. The white areas get no Cyan. Each ink is added in turn to create the final full color image on paper.

Printed Product Using CMYK

CMYK is the most economical method of reproducing full color images in the highest quality, and most magazines and glossy collateral is printed using CMYK. CMYK is the standard method that we currently uses to process all print jobs for customers.

What should I know about image resolution measurements?

Resolution and Pixels Defined

Resolution, when referring to an image, is the number of pixels displayed per unit of printed length. It’s a measurement used in printing and it’s stated in dots per inch (dpi). This makes perfect sense because printers print dots, and that’s what a printed image is composed of.

When referencing an image onscreen – on a computer monitor, TV, plasma, or projector – resolution is stated in pixels per inch (ppi). This too makes sense because digital images are displayed in teeny, tiny individual blocks of color called pixels.

How They Work Together

The resolution measurement dictates how closely the pixels are packed together. Increasing an image’s resolution means the pixels will be packed together more tightly, resulting in a smaller physical size, but generating a smoother, higher quality print. Lowering an image’s resolution means loosening the pixels, resulting in a larger physical image size, but generating a blocky, lower quality print.

Think of the resolution measurement as density. For example, the tighter a substance is packed, the denser it is and the less surface area it takes up (like brown sugar). The more loosely a substance is packed, the more surface area it consumes and it becomes less dense.

The confusing part is that when it comes to imagery, printers are the only devices that can do anything with the resolution measurement. Because our eyes can only process so much information, a 72 ppi image onscreen looks identical to a 600 ppi image onscreen. However, a printer isn’t hampered by the human eyeball and can take advantage of resolutions much higher than 72. (Actually, scanners can, too, but that’s a story for another time.

How Much Do You Need?

The resolution necessary for a beautiful print depends on the printing device itself. For instance, consumer inkjets do a nice job at 225 to 250 dpi, while professional service bureaus require 300 dpi and higher for glossy magazines, coffee table books, and the like. For a color advertisement in a newspaper, you need between 150 to 200 dpi. Same thing for a black and white laser printer. However, to know for sure, you’ve got to run some tests. If someone else is printing your project, ask what resolution they want.

If you’re dealing with images that will never be printed (Web, email, and onscreen presentations) you don’t need to worry about resolution at all; it’s the pixel dimensions that matter.

Why do certain colours look different after they print?

Most home and small business printers are either inexpensive ink-jet printers, or color laser printers. It is impossible to calibrate any of these systems as they have a wide and varied range of methods of printing. Even though some printers use CMYK inks, many other factors have to be considered, and it is impossible to expect to consistently print perfect color.

We maintains as high standards as possible, it is still almost impossible to print and expect to see exactly the same color every day.

There are so many possible factors that can affect the color on your printed materials. The weather outside can play a part in affecting how the ink dries on the paper, and can change the color slightly. The paper delivered from the paper mill may be slightly brighter. The ink density and constant on-press fluctuations in color, printing press running temperature or blanket wear, could also affect color slightly. It is impossible to expect that any professional printer can produce exactly the same printed blue on two separate days. However, we does have high quality controls to ensure as little variation as possible, especially within a single product order.