Designing Digital Pieces for Digital Presses

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Designing Digital Pieces for Digital Presses

By: Granny's Mettle

Designers value the litheness of digital presses that let them print shorter four-color runs. But choices of paper and preparation of files require special care. This is why designers are taking advantage of the versatility of digital printing more than ever. The ability to print four-color on shorter print runs gives them an imaginative freedom their budget might not have allowed on offset presses. As more digital papers enter the market and more print options become accessible, there are more things to consider.

You can choose any paper that the printing company guarantees will work with their digital press for the type of job you want to print. Each digital press manufacturer evaluates and recommends paper selections (coated and uncoated) for their line of equipment. Some printing companies experiment and are willing to guarantee work done on papers they recommend, in addition to the papers the vendors recommend.

One of the most significant tips for designing an efficient, artistic, high-quality, and cost-efficient variable data piece is to bring all parties involved in the project together from the start. You have to discuss first what components of the piece are variable -- is it text, graphics, images, or all three. Also, the number, size, and location of the variable data fields should be clarified. These measures will aid define the production resources required and the type of digital color press and variable data system that can be used.

A point to remember when designing for variable date printing is to resist the temptation to over personalize and over design. Do not show off. Each element should have an unyielding purpose underneath the marketing strategy behind the piece. Well designed variable data projects are transparent to the receiver. The goal is not to impress the receiver of the marketing piece with what the technology can do; rather, it is to get the recipient to act and buy something.

Most digital presses convert Pantone colors to their CMYK equivalents and print them that way. Some will allow you to specify the conversion formula yourself or tolerate the press operator to do so. Since Pantone-to-CMYK conversion is also a technique used for offset printing, you may have no problem with the print quality of a converted color.

The print resolution of digital presses is improving constantly, so you might be more anxious about how well people can read, the type rather than how well the press can image it. Type sizes of 10 and 12 point, the usual size of body text, will be fine. Avoid using type smaller than four points. What resolution to use, in the capture or scan of a photographic image, is one of the most bewildering specifications in the graphic arts because scanning equipment and imaging equipment have evolved over the years? Some printers and graphic artists are still using standards that were applicable years ago with older equipment, but are now passé.

Combining offset with digital printing sounds like an exact science, and in fact, each application needs to be run like an experiment. Sound scientific procedure calls for controlling all of the variables, and in this print application, it's fundamental for consistent success. If you're doing strictly black-and-white variable information, and already have offset equipment available, then combining digital printing with lithography makes a lot of sense.


rtyoung192 21.05.2008. 15:42

Can anyone recommend me a good digital camera available in the UK for less than 120? Features it must have are

-Stylish sleek design
-More than 7 megapixels
-A very high zoom
- <120
-Available in the UK

I am going to a concert in a month and so i need good picture quality and zoom to capture the band on stage well.



Admin 21.05.2008. 15:42


I know its slightly over budget but if you can stretch to 124.99 the Canon IXUS75 is head and shoulders above the rest.

It has a metal case so can withstand plenty of punishment, has 7.1 megapixels and 3x optical zoom.

It also has a 3" LCD screen which is larger than most camera's in this price bracket.

All in all this is a great choice, combing great look with a really sturdy piece of kit, that can produce great results.

For great shots of the band on stage you would be hard-pressed to find anything better than the FujiFilm S1000Fd.

They can normally be picked up for around 130 and offer great value for money. It has a 12x optical zoom so you should be able to shoot shots make it appear your really near the band.

Most digital cameras have a 3x or 4x optical zoom. It also has 10megapixels for great detail and a auto face detection and red eye removal.

This features mean you will take great shots, even if your not the most advanced photographer.

Enjoy the concert


Qweemy 22.10.2011. 04:19

What materials should I get to begin sewing? I am 17 and looking to become a tailor.I plan on taking fashion design in college but I want to get experience before i start taking the class.Can anyone recommend a book for an absolute beginner and basic materials to make simple garments.


Admin 22.10.2011. 04:19

I like Connie Crawford's Guide to Fashion Sewing for beginners who want to make garments. It's a little expensive because it's a textbook used for a lot of first year fashion school sewing classes, but there are used copies available. It's very step by step through major garment types, drawing and then a few sentences, then another drawing. That may be a tough one for you to get hold of in the UK, so I'm also going to send you off to see Kate Dicey's website then click on "resources" then "book list".

some fabrics. You need to learn basic machine control first... and having a variety of fabrics to work with will help. Choose something really stable for your first efforts, like muslin (US)/calico (UK) or a piece of old bedsheet.

a seam ripper. Get a good one. One of the best cheap sewing lessons you can have is taking apart well made garments from the rag bag or thrift shop. Document your findings with a digital camera if possible. Figure out what materials were used where in a garment. Figure out what order the seams were sewn in.

pins: a few. If you're going to be a professional, you won't use many, other than perhaps in fitting. I usually have beginners get the big yellow-headed quilting pins we have here; they're coarse (so not for use with fine silks), but they're big enough to spot so you don't sew over them.

chalk or a chakoner. White chalk is the only fabric marker I'm absolutely certain I can get out of any fabric. Having had a few disasters over the years, I don't use anything else but chalk or tailor's tacks or snips for marking fabric.

ruler. Again, I'm on the other side of the pond, but the basic ruler I use most is what's often called a "graphics art ruler", and is thin plastic (so you can snug a pencil up to it closely) gridded in 1/8" squares. Don't know if there's a metric equivalent, but this is what I am talking about:

some old file folders or similar heavy paper that cuts cleanly. These are so useful for making pressing templates and small pattern pieces.

good shears. They should cut cleanly all the way to the tips, and should be as long as you can open almost completely to the pivot with one hand. The style you want is called "bent" or "dressmaker". I happen to really like the Kai brand, but don't know if they're available in the UK. The big jobbies on the bottom here are the style you want for general purpose cutting: (those are dressmaker pattern). The scissors above them are needlework scissors and are not good for cutting out patterns, but are great for trimming. The blue things up at the top are thread nippers... nice but not necessary. If you can only afford one pair, get the largest dressmakers or bent trimmers you can that are good quality. Watch this guy cut: -- keep that lower blade on the table. Accuracy is the name of the game.

A couple of spools of decent quality thread of different colors, which will be useful when you're learning how a sewing machine works. You might want to keep this URL handy, too: I don't know much about the brands available in the UK. I've been using Gutermann's Mara 100 for a general purpose thread and really like it. It's dirt cheap here in comparison with the usual threads sold in fabric stores and good quality. Again, talk to Kate.

Hand needles, a packet of different sizes.

This website: (and more specifically, the tutorials there: )
Start with the zipper tutorials. Yes, they're fussy compared to most home sewing instruction books. Do it anyhow, the quality of results is more than worth it. Kathleen taught her husband basic sewing -- his first project included a welt pocket, usually considered an advanced skill: Kathleen's methods of making welt pockets give superior results to the usual methods taught. And because they rely on precision before the sewing stage, the results are far better.

Sewing machine needles. You'll break some as you're learning, probably when you try to push or pull fabric under the presser foot. Size 80/12 universals will work for most everything starting out. More on needle choices here: Photos:


Doug O 04.10.2006. 05:07

Canon Rebel Digital XT - how do I turn on the LCD screen to COMPOSE pictures instead of using the viewfinder? I cannot figure out how to turn on the LCD monitor on the back of the Canon Rebel Digital XT to compose pictures rather than using the viewfinder. Please help me. Someone told me you can't use it for that - just for looking at pictures after taking them. Surely that cannot be true. My old $50 piece of digital junk camera lets me compose pics on the LCD screen!
Thanks for your help.

Doug O

Admin 04.10.2006. 05:07

The problem is in the way digital cameras are designed. Compact digital cameras let one view the image on the LCD screen because the photo sensor can be on all the time (like a video camera) and feed the output to the screen.

SLR digital cameras (like the Rebel XT) cannot do this for a few reasons. Firstly, SLR stands for single-lens reflex, which means the single lens of the camera captures the image, which is then reflexed (by a mirror) through the viewfinder. Only when one presses the shutter does the mirror flip up out of the way and the sensor captures the image.

Knowing this, one might logically think, then, that the camera could simply just flip the mirror up when one wants to compose using the LCD. the problem is that SLR photo sensors, being larger in size than ones found in compact digital cameras, generate too much heat for constant use. Thus, LCDs on SLR digital cameras, with the exception of the Olympus E330, are used only for reviewing photos.


strawberrysocks 02.03.2009. 19:55

Does graphic design and design art necessarily have to be computer generated? In one of my previous art courses we had *design* using paints( & other media) and paper, however now I'm researching design art for a piece and all I find is computer generated art.


Admin 02.03.2009. 19:55

Art is art and design is design, no matter how it is produced.

However, technology involved in the DISTRIBUTION of graphic designs has turned, nearly 100% digital. Even in the print media, almost all art work, if not entirely created in digital format, gets converted into digital files before going to print. (there are exceptions, such as silk screen prints and lithographs) But even something going to a sheet or web press needs to be color separated and it is no longer being done with cameras and filters. It is now done digitally after scanning and then, out putted directly to plates via a digital file.

An illustrator may create a graphic, for a poster, billboard, book cover, etc, in a traditional medium, such as oils, watercolor, pastels, pencils, or whatever, but the work gets scanned or photgraphed before going to print.

By the way, very little "art" is exactly computer "generated." Real art is created by an artist and the computer is merely a tool used in the process. It is no different than a pencil, brush, mechanical ink pen or a film camera. It is the artist's vision that actually generates art. The computer or other tool merely produces what the artist visualizes.


sandy 06.02.2009. 19:14

What is the standard printable area for most printers/documents? Creating brochure; should be full-bleed but client wants me to scale it to have exact borders as their printer for easy printing/folding. Thanks!


Admin 06.02.2009. 19:14

If they are going commercial printing, many printers can print edge to edge. At my company our black and white machines are capable of edge to edge printing, but on occasion the leading edge has 1/8" white space that we can not control. Our digital color machine has 1/8" margin but we can occasionally trick it to print edge to edge.
Offset printers may be able to get closer.
For personal printers I have been able to get content within 1/4" margins, sometimes smaller.
In order to be safe I would say stick with 1/4" on all sides.

If you can find out where your client will be printing the piece you can call the company up and ask them for their advice. Most companies have their own designers on staff for pre-press set up. Depending upon the size of your brochure they may actually put the design multiple up for better cost reduction. My company tries to squeeze as many on a large sheet of paper as possible.

A word of advice for brochures being folded: Speak with the printer regarding fold locations and quality. Some companies' folding machines have certain preset fold settings that your brochure should match, others can put the fold where ever you need it to be. Another thing to watch for with folding on a full bleed piece is paper cracking around the print. This is a problem across the board, from offset and laser to digital. If possible try to keep heavy color away from the fold line. Again, this is something you can discuss with the printer for optimum results.


Corey 04.10.2010. 02:46

What's the difference between Screen Printed tees and Digital Printed tees? I'm looking to make t-shirts for my band, and Screen Printed tees are much cheaper to buy in bulk, but I'm unsure of the quality... Anyone know anything about it? Please and thanks (:


Admin 04.10.2010. 02:46

Screen printed tee shirts are far superior to digitally printed garments. Direct to garment or DTG, is a relatively new technology. It is a great method for smaller print runs with many colors in the image. With DTG there is very little set up or ?pre press? to do. You simply send the image file to the garment printer and that?s that. The quality of the print will vary from machine to machine and operator to operator. But for small quantity orders where there is a complex multi color image, it is an economically feasible option.

Screen printing on the other hand has a lot of pre press activities and tends to only be practical on larger print runs. If you print a 1 to 3 color design, screen printing can be feasible. But when you want to print 5 colors on 12 shirts it becomes extraordinarily expensive. Screen printing is best for larger print runs in excess of 36 pieces. A 1 color print may be done easily on much smaller orders but most screen printers have a 1 dozen minimum order per color being printed.

In the end screen printing will give the better quality print, more vibrant colors, and it will have the best durability or longevity. It will be the most cost effective method on decent size print runs. DTG will be easier to do, much faster to set up, easy to do small quantities, and the color is very good when done right. The longevity or durability is still a matter of question for me. But proponents will argue it is just as good as screen printed garments for durability.


supeerrstar 29.04.2010. 09:31

What is the difference between old and new toys? I need answers other than 'new toys are modern'. please be specific. it's for homework
Neo please,that is hardly an answer. like MATERIALS, technology. PLEASE be more specific


Admin 29.04.2010. 09:31

Depending on how far you go back and what kind of 'toys' you are talking about, there can be many different answers. Here are a couple of examples to explain what I mean...

In electronics, video games, radios and televisions for example, many old 'toys' consisted of wooden construction with little plastic and occasionally metal for design purposes. Old televisions used tubes and transistors, while new toys use LCD technology and HD properties. Old computers used tubes and transistors as well, were the size of a standard room, had the processing power of a modern wrist watch, and made calculations on a long sheet of paper. Today's computers have motherboards, graphics cards and accelerators and network cards that can transmit information through the air without wires, and many fit in your lap.

Older video game systems had wood paneling, and if you popped them open, would maybe see a heat sink and a small motherboard to read the media. Today's video game consoles have so many boards, wires and switches that if you tried to take it apart without proper training, it could look like a crash victim's intestines.

Another example is vehicles. Older toys had all metal bodies and no safety devices. As the technology and education grew, safety belts, airbags, shatterproof windshields, and crumple zones on the bumpers made for a more reliable and safer ride.

If you are referring to the actual term of the word 'toy', older toys had absolutely no computers in them, while just about every new toy has at least some sort of computer technology somewhere inside of it. A good example of this is Woody and Buzz from Toy Story. Woody is a pull-string doll with a mechanical voice box that, if you had one of these back in the day, would actually lower the pitch if you restrained the string from going back into the voice box at it's normal speed. Buzz on the other hand is the new toy, electronics in every inch of the toy, and everything is digital to the push of a button.

Toys from the old days were usually something like a stick with a Frisbee on top of it, or going even further back, nothing but a flat piece of plastic that you throw around. A hula-hoop is nothing more than a hollow plastic tube connected in a ring. The original Mr. potato head was pieces of plastic pertaining to eyes, mouths, arms and legs that you pressed into a real potato.

Put simply, old toys used a lot more imagination, and kid's had plenty of it back then. Today, new toys could pretty much play with themselves, and have so many chips and wires and stereo speakers that you could have built E.T's phone with about a quarter of the stuff you find in them.

So the short answer is; The difference between old toys and new toys is the evolution of technology. As higher quality materials became cheaper and more accessible, they became a bigger part of the new toy line. New strides in technology allowed more interactivity such as movement and sound. In the case of television, sharper picture and color. In the case of vehicles, safety and comfort. In the case of computers, smaller sizes and higher processing speeds. And in the the case of a child's toy, More interactivity and, sometimes, less imagination.


JimboMatrix 19.09.2007. 20:33

How have computers changed the creative industries? The digital revolution?


Admin 19.09.2007. 20:33

From MY end, as a freelance graphic designer, it has meant greater productivity and profitability.

I can produce work much more quickly, and, in a format more ready for print than ever before. At one time, an illustration project would involve client approvals that resulted in time consuming rework. Now, with digital tools such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, a piece can be fixed only in the part needed, without starting from scratch. Quick sketches can be scanned, "inking" can be done more smoothly and accurately on the computer. Preliminary designs can be, either faxed or emailed to a client, (saving time and transportation/shipping costs. Colors can be changed with a click of the mouse.

Add to that, I can now prepare a file for print from my own studio, where, in the past, a drawing had to be photographed, processed, color separated and outputted to a plate engraver. These are alll processes that used to be done by speciallists and would add to MY costs of producing a project. My software applications can do, virtually ALL of these functions, which means, I can charge my client for these services, instead of having to pay someone else.

I still may not operate a giant printing press in my studio, but I can send a complete, ready to go file to my commercial printer and have the project ready in minimal time, at a cost savings to him, and, at a greater profit for me.

And, lest someone think that I am cutting into the commercial printer's profits, consider this. He can take my file, load it into HIS computer system, and it automates many of the steps it used to take a large staff of technicians to do. His computer generates the plates, loads them into the press and the press, virtually, runs itself, from printing, cutting, collating and packaging.


Kate 15.04.2012. 07:46

Do you have to be over 18 to publish a book? I have been writting stories for many years, but I have started writting a book that I am actually quite proud of. How would I go about trying to get it published and would I be able to even though I am only 15?
Thank you to those who gave helpful answers, to those who just decided to be bitchy because of a few typos thanks


Admin 15.04.2012. 07:46

No. All you have to do is look at websites that will not pay u if you don't have a job. All you have to be is a good writer cuz people will look for punctuations and how good a book really is and if it is worth their time or not. I should know cuz I'm also having trouble writing AND publishing a book. I'm only 17. I have one book almost finished but i didn't cuz i didn't have time cuz of school. These are the steps to take if u wanna b a self-publisher.Decide what your goal is. Some writers want to print out just enough copies of their prized project for colleagues and friends; others think they have a book that will sell to a larger audience.
Examine competing titles to make sure you're not covering the same ground. Find out what sales of those books have been to see if it's really worth your while to tackle a similar topic. Call book distributor Ingram at (615) 213-6803 and punch in the ISBN of the book you want to check on; you'll hear a voice message containing the number of copies sold in the last year.
Determine what format you'd like to publish in: hardcover, softcover, or ebook, which is essentially an electronic file and requires no paper printing.
Check out print-on-demand publishers. If all you want to do is get a book published, these vanity presses will do the job for a price. Some vanity houses will print just a few copies for a few hundred dollars. Print-on-demand is ideal for very short runs (25 to 500 copies). Instead of printing on traditional, ink-based offset printing equipment, pages are reproduced using a high end copier. A digital file from a page layout program links directly to a high-speed copier and then is machine-bound. Some shops offer perfect binding so it looks just like a printed book. Look at sources like, and
Print your book directly from your completed files with a directto- press printer. Instead of producing a different piece of film for each color of each page, the files are transferred directly to the printing plate. You'll eliminate all the film costs, and save time too.
Shop aggressively if you really want your book to sell. If you're an established writer considering self-publishing, look around. You can either choose to have a print-on-demand company, such as those mentioned above, handle all the layout, printing and production activities, or go to a local offset printer and oversee each of those steps in the process personally.
Ask potential suppliers to send you samples of their recently printed books. Don't be shocked: The quality will vary considerably with regard to paper quality, cover design, layout, and whether it was run on a sheet-fed press or a web press. Ask questions about how individual pieces were produced.
View competitors' books to determine what size and format you'd like your book to take. Find out if there are standard sizes you should stay with to reduce costs, or whether a different format will help your book stand out. Format sizes can affect which print-on-demand publisher you can work with.
Familiarize yourself with printing costs. These will vary, but you can expect to spend more than $1 per book for a minimum print run of several thousand copies. You may also be charged extra for layout help, editing, design of a book cover, and for photos. Typical fees are $3 to $6 per page for editing, $3 to $5 for production, $500 to $5,000 and more for design, plus $3 per 300- page book for printing.
Hire a designer with book experience (see How to Hire a Graphic Designer). He or she will design the type, flow the pages, and create a spectacular jacket as well. This is more expensive, in some cases considerably so, but the difference in creating a quality product is significant.
Tally up your costs, including printing, graphic design, artwork, photography, copy editing and other expenses. A traditional publishing house that buys your book would normally absorb these costs, but then again, you lose control.
Request an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), which is the standard code for identifying your book, at The cost for 10 ISBNs is $150, plus a minimum $75 processing fee.
Find out how and by whom your book will be distributed. Some print-on-demand companies handle it in-house. If you do it, you'll need to have the books shipped to you, to contact book chains about stocking your book, potentially visit each bookstore individually, and handle any mail orders on your own. Some bookstores will accept a limited number of your books on consignment, which means you leave them and if they sell, you get paid; if they don't, you pick them up in a couple of months. Some companies have extensive bookstore distribution; others focus more on online sales, which will have bearing on the types of activities you'll need to perform to be successful.


C-Clark-1992 22.11.2012. 15:25

Are coins made in the UK by the Royal Mint hot or cold rolled? Doing a presentation on how the royal mint makes coins, unfortunately I am unable to find out if the Royal Mint uses continous casting then rolling (hot worked) or recieves coils of strip and then cold roll the material?
Thankyou in advance for your answer.


Admin 22.11.2012. 15:25

.Making the blanks
Depending on the alloy required, the appropriate metals are melted in the necessary proportions in a furnace. The metal is then extracted from the furnace in the form of a continuous strip, which is cut to produce coils weighing up to 2.8 tonnes.
The strip is passed through powerful rolling mills to reduce it to the thickness of a coin. Blank discs of metal are then punched from the strip in a blanking press at a rate of up to 10,000 a minute.
Rolling metal under great pressure makes it hard so the blanks have to be softened, something which is achieved by heating them in an annealing furnace at up to 950C. The blanks are then cleaned to ensure that they are free from any blemishes.
Making the dies
Once a design has been approved, a plaster model is prepared at several times the diameter of the intended coin. The plaster model is scanned by a ruby-tipped probe which records the design as a digital file on a computer. Guided by this digital file, an engraving machine cuts the design into a piece of steel at the correct size of the coin. Known as a reduction punch, this piece of steel is then used to make the dies which will actually strike the coins.
Striking the coins
For the final stage of the process, the blanks are fed into a coining press containing a pair of dies. Applying a pressure of around 60 tonnes, the dies strike the blanks and turn them into coins at speeds of up to 850 a minute


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