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  • Jake Coburn | Omega's Marketing Director

Pre-Print Design Tips

Like all things, there are pros and cons of creating printed materials versus leaving them as digital media. However, with an understanding of the many possibilities print offers, you can create something that is as attractive and impactful as a digital piece, if not more.


One drawback of printed materials is that once they are produced, they are final. There is no option to make a little edit and quickly republish (without added time, costs, and headaches). Therefore, arguably the most important part of the print process is what happens before the printing begins.


So, here are four pre-print tips to make printing easier and to give you a better chance at making the most amazing, impactful, award-worthy printed material imaginable.


Consider the substrate on which you are printing.


Unlike digital materials, where your canvas is always a digital screen, print offers a plethora of substrates; the material on which you can build your masterpiece. With the advancement in print and material technologies, it’s astounding how many options are available.


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Metal substrate sign.

So, what are some popular substrates available to you?


· Paper: This entire article could be dedicated to the various paper qualities that are available. But for a quick overview, there are several characteristics to choose from when deciding on paper: weight, coating, color, glossiness, and smoothness are just a few. A heavier weight with a matte finish is common for what you see used for packaging. Lighter weights with a glossy finish and high smoothness is typically what you see for magazines or brochures.

· Metal: You may have thought of metal for etching and cutting, which are great options (and Omega can provide), but you can print on various metals as well. Metals like steel, aluminum, copper, and chrome, each offer unique color, shine, and hardness that can alter the way a print looks. An eye-catching option to consider with metal is a mix of engraving and printing to add extra visual interest to the engraved area.

· Plastic: The term “plastic” encompasses a wide range of materials, including vinyl, polypropylene, polyester, acrylic, and more. A nice aspect of plastic substrates is that there is such a wide variety that offers unique looks and feels. Think about flexibility, opacity, color, and hardness.

· Wood: You know wood can be painted, etched, and carved. It can also be printed! Using special inks designed for wood printing, you can even create high-quality prints on wood that look like photos. It is important to consider the type of wood that is being used for the end application and to make sure the print is sealed properly. Otherwise, as the wood adjusts to temperatures and moisture, it expands or contracts and can alter the look of a print.


If you are working with a commercial printer, they should have substrate samples for you to see and touch. They should also be able to guide you to the substrate that makes the most sense for the look you are trying to achieve, as well as your budget.


Colors look different when printed.


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Print colors.

There are several reasons that your printed materials can look different when compared to what you see on your screen. You should never rely on your screen for color matching when doing a print.


· RGB vs. CMYK: You may have heard of RGB and CMYK when referencing colors. RGB stands for Red-Green-Blue and CMYK stands for Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black. These refer to the color mixes that make the end color that you see. RGB is used for digital screens and CMYK is used for printing.

· Screen Brightness: Screen brightness is a variable that many people do not consider when viewing colors. But this variable has a significant effect on how color appears. A screen with the brightness set to a higher level may make colors appear much more vibrant and contrasting, which may not be achieved in a print.