Check that dropshadow at the door…importance of checking your “special effects” before printing

Oh the tragedy! You’ve spent countless hours proofing, revising and talking/selling your ideas to your customer only to see the final product is missing graphics, type or the effect looks awful. Your heart sinks to your stomach and you grab for the antacid by the handful. And to think…by checking your print preview in Adobe Acrobat, proofed your final media or checked the specs with your printer…this could of been prevented. We, as graphic designers, use some well-placed bells and whistles, dropshadows…bevel…fade, to increase the look to your print document and add a dimensionality to the piece.
Here’s a couple of tips you can use to prevent this from blowing up your print job.

Consider the need for these effects. Does the overall layout need this effect? Will this add anything to the overall effectiveness of the print piece? Will the stock you’re using for your print piece carry the effect the way it is on the screen?

Check your stock. If your printing on a pourous paper, chances are your special effects will fizzle out if the proper steps aren’t taken. Newspaper stock absorbs ink like a sponge and you may need to consider darkness and dot density of your blacks. Also grayscale black and process color black have their issues so you may need to experiment with what works best by proofing and printing in the method your final print product is produced in. Proofing now is better than a bad surprise outcome later.

Also consider the print method you are using. Color choices may look different from what you have on now on your screen than what the finished product is turned out. Check with your printer about the method and special considerations you may need to think about before you send your finals. For a special black ratio needs to be used for process color jobs through their online submissions. Offset printers may need your job to breakout in CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) plates for spot color work.

As mentioned before, check your print preview in Adobe Acrobat Pro’s Output Preview function. Open your final PDF (Portable Document File). Then under Advanced Menu, go to Print Production and the Output Preview. Click on this and click on the Object Preview option. If any of the objects disappear, your printed piece will not print properly. You have to play with the effect options, like in Adobe InDesign, or reset the option style as needed. (A topic I will be writing about in upcoming posts) You can also check your spot color and CMYK breakdown here as well.

By checking your final with all of these steps, you can prevent costly mistakes and angry customers.

If you’re able to, consider a tour of your printer’s facility, when time allows, and ask about the process and the machines used as a way to understand the steps you need to ensure better final pieces and return customers.