Foil Stamping Shines – More Options from Metallics

Foil Stamping - Hot, Cold and Digital

Foil stamping is a great way to add eye-catching shine and metallic glow to your print projects. Even a small touch of foil on a printed piece can bring it alive in a way regular inks never can. Foils have been around a long time (having once been done by hand) and today there are also several new digital and toner-based processes that can help meet the demands of any print budget, deadline, or run length. From the design side, defining the foil stamp area is generally no harder than defining a new spot color in your layout.

Probably the most well-known foiling process is Hot Foil Stamping. It requires a special metal die that is heated and pressed into the paper, creating a nice indentation in the finished piece. The hot foil process uses only one color of foil at a time, and is generally too costly for short runs. The final effect, however, elevates any print piece from average to classic – in other words, perfect for that customer who always says to “make it pop!”

Sample Foil Swatches Cold Foil Transfer is accomplished on a 6-color press. The first 2 units apply adhesive and foil, the other 4 are for CMYK printing. Overprinting CMYK onto the foil creates a whole gamut of metallic colors that would not be possible with one-color hot foil stamping. Besides gold, silver, and copper foil, there are also holographic foils which reflect a broad spectrum of colors back to the eye, as well as matte, gloss, pearled and pigmented foils from which to choose. Again, this can be a costly process, is often limited to coated stock only, and is not a great fit for a short-run budget.

New digital processes use either toner or a polymer varnish to attach the metallic foil, and can be cost-effective on short or medium sized runs. Also, metallic foil substrates are a great option – opaque CMYK inks are illuminated by the metallic media, and white can be under printed on specific elements to retain true or non-metallic color where desired. PaperSpecs has a great “Foil Cheat Sheet” you can download free here, outlining all the current processes.

InDesign Layout for Foil Stamping

To define the foil stamp area in your layout, just make all those objects be a new spot color – name it “FOIL” if you choose. You can get clear specs from your vendor or PSP, but in short they will need a separation from your design that only contains the area to be “foiled.” Foil stamping is also a great option when choosing from the huge variety of promotional products that can be branded for your marketing. Foiling can be used on most items from keychains to coffee mugs – in a wide variety of colors and finishes.

And speaking of varnishes, spot UV varnish coatings can give a flash of highlights to a printed piece in much the same way a metallic foil does. When the paper catches the light, these elements shine and give the illusion of depth and dimension but in a more subtle way than a metallic ink or foil. They too are simply defined in prepress as a spot color separation in the same way the foil is setup.spot UV coating adds gloss to print

So the options are out there today for employing great metallic foils and effects without any extra hassle for design, prepress, or budget concerns. The main limitation is often envisioning what the final product will look like — you will not really be able to create a digital or hard copy proof that will accurately preview the often stunning effects foil stamping can create. Perhaps the best way to do that is to ask your print provider for a sample of previous projects that successfully used foil. They should be happy to help you out.

In fact, rely on your printer for advice and direction with all of your integrated marketing. They should be able to provide you with everything from encouragement along the way to complete design, layout, copywriting, production, multi-purposing, online implmentation and distribution of your marketing outreach. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Using Templates to Design – Print, Promo Products & Signs

 

Designing on templates

Trade show booths, converted envelopes, coffee mugs, die cut folders, POS displays, folded mailpieces… what first step do all these design projects share? In each case, you will want to ask for a template from your printer before you design.

The print, signage and promotional products world continues to diversify with custom branding opportunities that allow you to print on just about any object you could want. Throw in the creative use of die-cuts, spot coatings, textures, and folds and starting your project layout on the right foot becomes all the more important. For the designer, that means working with vendor-supplied templates to make sure your design ends up printing in the right spot with no expensive surprises or added cost.

Vendors are usually glad to supply a pre-press template for your specific project. In fact, many require your files be submitted on their template – and for very good reason. The positioning, size, and bleed area are critical for successful output on projects using various substrates and printing surfaces, and complex bindery or finishing processes. When you submit files that need no adjustments, you save prepress and art department fees that would be needed to correct or modify your files, or perhaps save having to pay for a job that did not print as you hoped.

Often, however, instructions are vague about exactly HOW to work with the template. Here are a few pointers that may help. In MOST cases, the template you will receive is a PDF. If you are using the most common desktop publishing software – anything from Quark Xpress to the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite – the PDF can be used in several ways to guide your layout without getting in the way of your work.

We love Illustrator for many great reasons and it is generally our preferred software for design of promotional products, wide format signage, vehicle wraps, and even some regular print jobs that have complex die cuts or folds. The PDF template can be placed into Illustrator like an object, on its own layer, and used as a guide. But the most helpful way is to begin by choosing File–Open With (rather than just File Open) and pick Illustrator as your app rather than Acrobat. (If, as sometimes happens, the template PDF uses fonts that your computer does not have, just ignore the warnings. While they may not print well on your end, the vendor who made the template will have them, so no problem.)

Trade show booth template

Templates are almost always vector objects that will open and be editable in Illustrator. Of course you don’t want to edit the template, but it can be helpful to have the ability to manipulate it when using many layers or when you need to hide parts of the template in order to proof your project to a customer. You may also need to copy and use curved shapes or other features of the template when creating masks or other design elements.

Layers palette in IllustratorMany PDF templates are very user-friendly in Illustrator. They use specific non-printing colors to designate the layout and help you see the placement of things like folds, edges and dyelines while specifying how much bleed area you need to allow as well. They will generally have the template elements on locked layers so you don’t accidentally edit them. Most have a blank layer already prepared for you to work on. If not, always leave the template on it’s own layer(s) and create a new layer to contain your print elements.

Layers palette in InDesignSometimes, it is preferable to prepare your layout in InDesign or another page layout application. You can simply File–Place the PDF template into your document. It makes sense to create – and lock – a layer just for the template file. You can then turn visibility on and off as needed and move it up or down in the layer order as well. Your document size in InDesign should be the same size as the entire template, including crop marks if applicable. Upon export, you would generally turn all fonts to outlines and create your PDF/X1A with no crops or bleeds other than whats included in the template.

These PDF templates generally include other important information to guide your design. They will specify whether you need to use PMS spot colors or stick to all process. They define needed bleed area. And they usually spell out the resolution, size, and embedding specs for any images you include.

Templates save time, headache, and money throughout the course of your design project. Make it a practice to ask ahead of time for a template, and make the template your friend.

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Print Surprise: Optical Illusions at the Press

 

 

Optical illusions – where the perceived reality of a viewed object is different than the actual physical attributes being viewed – are interesting phenomena. Occasionally an unintended illusion will pop up in the print work here at our shop, and it usually takes a little convincing to prove to our press operators and art department that the problem is in the viewing…not a mistake in the print files or print process itself.

Gradients Can Trick the Eye

Optical illusion on press sheets

Above is the press sheet layout for a 4-up printed card which will later be cut out and folded in half. However, coming off the press, the 4-up sheets appear like the left side is darker than the right, especially on the outer side of the card. (In person, the effect was even more dramatic than it shows up here onscreen as it was printing on a metallic paper.) We were stumped at first as to what could cause this – the pdf file was preflighted, all the images were rendering correctly. We wondered about a problem with the press, the imagesetter, the layers within the pdf file. Finally, it took cutting a finished sheet apart by the crop marks to see that once separated, the gradients looked fine. Placed next to each other, the light to dark gradient tricked the eye into thinking one side of the press sheet was darker.

Gradient optical illusion

 

 

 

Repeating Patterns and Distortion

repeating pattern optical illusion

The 2-up sheets printed above have a decorative border with a repeating pattern that flows in one direction to the halfway point and then reverses its orientation for the second half on all four sides. If you let your eye wander slowly along the borders, especially the longer vertical sides, it appears that the borders are bent and not a perfect square shape overall. The eagle eyes of our press operator noticed the subtle “bend” in the lines and decided that either the file or the imaging plate itself was somehow warped. Placing a ruler or straight edge on the press sheet reveals that, despite what your eyes are telling you, the line is perfectly straight across all four sides of the paper.

Optical illusion of a square decorative border

You can read more about optical illusions and view galleries of them at a surprisingly great number of websites as many people find the tricks our eyes can play on us to be a fascinating topic.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Personalization – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Quick InDesign Tip: Discover the Story Editor

 

InDesign Story Editor

Many InDesign users may primarily work on image heavy, single page documents such as flyers, office stationary, business cards, posters or ads. But if you have ever found yourself in charge of laying out significant amounts of text for projects such as annual reports, directories, or even your great American novel, the often-overlooked Story Editor in InDesign can be your best friend.

 

Toolbox for PageMaker 4.0, before Adobe Systems purchase
The Aldus PageMaker 4.0 Toolbox

Like most every feature in an Adobe product, you will discover layers of functionality the deeper you decide to explore. This article intends to just open the door on a feature that is a little bit hidden. Back in the days of PageMaker, the InDesign predecessor originally produced by a company named Aldus, manipulation of text was the heart and soul of the program. Tools to import and arrange graphics and photos were essential and expanding with every upgrade, but PageMaker’s “reason to be” was styling and control of text and the Story Editor was it’s powerhouse. Whenever you work with large amounts of text, it still is today.

Artwork from PageMaker Story Editor

The most basic function of the Story Editor is to allow you to see overset text that fills up a text frame or page without having to go ahead and flow the rest of your text onto new pages or off on the pasteboard area. Click within a block of text and hit Command+Y (Ctrl+Y) or Edit > Edit in Story Editor to open up your text in its own window. Think of it like a “word processor” view of the entire placed text, scrollable even for hundreds of pages in one long view. (The original Aldus software manual described the Story Editor as “PageMaker’s word processor.”) This view of your text does not show line breaks, styling (other than basic bold, italic, underlined), or other design/layout attributes – what you get is the raw complete text where you can write, edit, correct, search and manipulate without the distractions of the layout. (If you are familiar with WordPress, the Story Editor is similar to the Text or HTML view rather than the Visual tab.)

From this window you can work on large amounts of text flow in a multi-page document. If you are still writing your content, or just searching out edits and corrections, this view gives you the control to write and edit without turning pages, screen redraws, or design distractions. If you ever find yourself confused as to why a portion of text is not “acting” as expected, check the Story Editor to see any hidden text variable or markers such as Drop Caps, Index Markers or Hyperlinks. Often you can delete or edit these here much easier than in the normal layout view. Even if you are just working on text that is difficult to see on screen due to size, rotation or special effects, a quick Command+Y will let you see and edit the text in a straightforward window and the changes will update live in both displays. The Story Editor is also the place to manage more advanced tricks like footnotes, XML or tagged text, and conditional text.

Open your Story Editor just to get a feel for how it can benefit you in your own style of working with InDesign.

Story Editor Preferences Pane
Set the font and appearance for your Story Editor view

Be aware that each independent text block or series of linked blocks will open its own Story Editor window – there is not one single Story Editor for an entire Indesign document. Also know that you can customize the look and display of your editor from the InDesign Preferences/Story Editor Display window. Take a few moments to explore the Story Editor and save yourself a lot of time, clicks and frustration on future design jobs.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

Color, Balance and Emphasis: An Infographic on How Graphics Work

Any size business can take advantage of custom infographics to better communicate and attract interest. Any process or idea you would like to explain to potential customers can be illustrated with eye-catching graphics. Talk to your printer about creating your own custom infographics for your blog, website, signage or print collateral and you’ll get excited about the potential and creativity of illustrating your business.

Infographic on how Graphics work

This infographic was provided courtesy of Bigstock Photo.

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.

 

The New Yorker at 90: The Art of Great Cover Art

It’s easy to love The New Yorker. Their editorials, criticism, opinion, reporting, poetry, and celebrated cartoons have consistently set a gold standard of excellence for publishing.  The venerable magazine is celebrating 90 years of groundbreaking, respected coverage of much more than the New York literary scene, and must be basking in the accolades from readers and critics. You know you’re pretty influential when bloggers take the time to praise and interpret the shape of just one letter in your masthead!

The New Yorker covers provide a master class in creative illustration and graphic design. Timely and often controversial cover art is a mainstay of the magazine as the New York Times notes the covers have taken a distinctive shift “from polite to provocative.” The editors seek out innovative artists who movingly capture the nation’s excitement, fear, contradictions or spirit in a graphic image that gets noticed, sells magazines and ultimately proves the enduring power of print.

Great graphic design brings order and meaning to a complex or hard-to-define subject – and The New Yorker covers excel at that. Wit and creativity are needed to illustrate a complex point of view or clash of points of view in a deceptively simple artwork. Some magazines rely on the excitement and buzz generated by a controversial cover image simply to get attention for attention’s sake – think Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue or the outlandish banner headlines of the tabloids. Conversely, The New Yorker covers do more than exploit an event’s moment in the mainstream spotlight – and they often make news in and of themselves.

Often a great cover image becomes indelibly linked in our minds to the events or topics they address. As the covers below prove, the creation of a great cover illustration also has a story behind the scenes that is equally interesting:

The New Yorker Covers
© The New Yorker

Sept. 24, 2001: read the story behind the uncredited cover commemorating the tragedy of 9/11.

Dec. 8, 2014: Bob Staake’s poignant illustration of the racial divisions in Ferguson, MO.

July 21, 2008: “The Politics of Fear” by Barry Blitt – one of the most satirically controversial covers in The New Yorker’s history.

 

The New Yorker Covers
© The New Yorker

July 8, 15, 2013: “Moment of Joy” by Jack Hunter, celebrating the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Jan. 19, 2015: “Solidarité” by Ana Juan, memorializing the massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Dec. 16, 2013: “Madiba” by Kadir Nelson, for the passing of Nelson Mandela.

 

To show the importance of cover art to the magazine’s essence, The New Yorker decided to print not one but 9 different covers – one for each decade – for it’s special anniversary double issue. Each image seeks to bring the iconic cartoon dandy Eustace Tilley who appeared on the first cover in 1925 into the 21st century. And in order to ensure they stay as relevant and dynamic in the next 90 years as they have in the past, the magazine just hired ad agency SS+K to steer and coax it’s brand progression.

 

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512 for any marketing needs. As a printer, we understand communication and design. Your printer should be able to provide you with the latest information, inspiration, technical advice, and innovative ideas for communicating your message through print, design and typography, signage, apparel, variable data printing and direct mail, integrated marketing and environmentally responsible printing. If they can’t, you have the wrong printer! The best advice, always, is to ASK YOUR PRINTER!

ImageSmith is now partnered with Extreme Awards & Engraving – our in-house partner providing custom engraved trophies and awards for employee recognition programs, sporting events, and promotional needs. With our new sister company, we will be sharing space, resources and expertise in a collaboration designed to further provide you with one place to meet all of your marketing needs… Under One Roof! Visit them online at www.extremeae.com or call direct at 828.684.4538.

 

 

Call us at 828.684.4512. ImageSmith is a full-service print and marketing provider located in Arden, North Carolina. Contact us at ImageSmith for quotes on all your print and marketing projects, and more useful tips on how to create custom, effective, high impact marketing solutions.