Shine: The Basics of Print Production

The Print Shop Printing Workshop


  • Use InDesign for layout
  • Use Illustrator for Type/drawing
  • Use Photoshop for photo edits
  • Print from PDF
    • Small file
    • Easier to send
    • Minor changes
  • Give the printer a packaged InDesign file
    • Major changes
  • Always run a proof
  • Bleed
    • Minimum of 3 mm bleed beyond the key frame
  • Always speak to your printer as early as possible
    • Imperial measurement system
    • Bleed
    • More economic printing
      • Resize and print more wasteless
    • A page is not a leaf
      • One leaf has two pages
    • The more you print, the less expensive it is
      • Print more and use it for other things
    • If you have something very specific in mind, come with example ideas for your printer from the web
    • Keep to as few pages as possible
      • Make a bunch of business cards on a giant sheet


  • Coated
    • Same look for digi and litho
    • Ink sits on top of the paper
    • Can be coated afterwards
  • Uncoated
    • Useful to put ink over the paper
    • Litho inks sink into the paper
    • Digital inks are not absorbed
  • Sheet-fed versus large format
    • Anything above A3 is hard to do digitally

The Different Types of Printing

  • Digital printing
    • Mostly do CMYK
    • Shiny
    • Basically just “push a button”
    • Prints directly to the paper
    • Digital machines CANNOT print in spot colour
  • Litho-Offset
    • Cost effective to do many
    • Dark and flat
    • Very expensive
    • You have to make a metal plate or metal plates in order to print
    • Around 500 copies, litho becomes cheaper than digital
    • Much more accurate to spot colour
      • Ink is in tins
      • You mix it, not the machine like in digital
      • There are about 20 base colours that give you the entire range when mixed
    • Much more of a paper-like feel, little gloss
    • It takes a little while for the ink quality to settle
  • Risograph
    • Form of digital printing
    • 20 different inks
      • No reference to CMYK or Pantone
      • Pantone is the universal language of colour
    • You have to pass this through the press multiple times
    • 3D effect that is very unique to riso
    • Similar to litho offset effect, use uncoated paper
    • Paper plates
  • Foil Printing
    • A raised block is made
    • There is an indentation in the page
    • Expensive
  • Die Cutting
    • Very specific parts which are cut by a machine
    • Made from a block
    • Very expensive to make that block
  • Screen Printing
    • There are now digital screen printers
    • Must use screens and ink
  • Different methods
    • UV


  • If you want to print with semi-transparent ink, like with digital, you need to print white first
    • Printing white is tricky and expensive


  • Saddle Stitch
    • Uses a roll of wire
    • Can also use a stapler
      • Mostly silver
      • Coloured staples are plastic coated
        • The plastic cracks and falls off in the middle
      • Ideal for short books and notebooks
    • Screw Binding and Rivet Binding
      • Uses bolts and holes
      • Very easy to update
    • Singer Sowing
      • Quite expensive
      • Can do by yourself on a sowing machine
      • 8-90 pages
    • Coptic Binding
      • Opens flat
      • Looks interesting
      • Exactly what it looks like when the cover is taken off a hard cover book
    • Perfect Binding
      • You do not have to work with multiples of four
      • Use glue and braces
      • Useful for anything thicker than a 2mm spine
      • You do loose a bit of your artwork
      • There are little scores on either side of the spine where the covers are glued to the pages
      • Glues
        • Hot melt glue
          • Cheap
          • Dries very quickly
        • Cold glue
          • PUR Glue
          • Longer to dry
          • Stronger tension
        • The cover must be designed together, including spine
          • The safest way to do this is not to include spine writing or colour
        • Postcard book binding
          • Opens flat
          • Glued at the spine and mesh added
        • Laporello
          • Basically concertina with a cover
        • Comic Book Bind
          • Starts off like a poster
          • Slits create booklet feel
          • If you print more of these, you can just use them as posters
        • Lay Flat Books
          • Quite expensive
          • Lays perfectly flat
        • Hardback books
          • Use special binding cloths
          • Usually have to screen print on them
          • Tend to foil on hard covers
          • Usually just a title
        • Paper over Board
          • Wrap printed paper over craft board
          • Glue over the board to keep it stable


  • Flaps
    • In the centre, one security stitch
    • On the outside, two more stiches
  • When you saddle stitch or layer pages creep happens
    • Creep is when pages move back when stacked on top of one another
    • The printers have an algorithm to fix this
  • Folds
    • Always do concertina
      • Gets rid of crow’’s feet
      • The more material, the thinner the paper has to be
    • Must take the paper grain direction into account
      • If there is ink on the paper, folding against the grain will crack the ink
      • Using coated paper usually makes it worse
    • Roll folding works once or twice, but it can mess up as soon as you do it more
    • If you print on one sheet and fold, you save paper

Lamination and Gloss

  • Matte and gloss lamination’
  • Not great for the environment
  • Protects the book
  • Hard to break
  • Kid’s books?


  • Digital media also impacts the environment
  • Use biodegradable inks
  • Seaweed paper and other substitutes
    • Seaweed paper actually goes white
  • Use alternatives to tell a story
  • Turn stuff into other stuff
    • Excess printing into envelopes
  • Reuse the make ready sheets
    • Overprinting can create cool effects
    • If you don’t want to see something, do a French fold
  • You can make colour and registration bars a part of the job
  • Seed paper is done by screen printing

Other Important Stuff

  • VAT
    • If you do anything to the print after you print it, it’s VATable
      • Has nothing to do with the company, only with the product
    • Postcard book
      • Include page numbers and references
      • Trick into book form
    • If you change a folder after it is printed, it becomes VATable

Some Cool Stuff

  • Using both offset and digital
    • Print the covers in offset so the ink sinks ink
    • Print the insides in digital to minimise costs
    • Use photo retouching to make the crossover less evident
  • If you print graphite is digital, it retains the pencil quality
  • You can trick a foil effect with digital ink on different coloured paper
  • You can trick a wax effect with digital ink on different coloured paper
  • DVD covers can include more than one type of binding
  • If you print on a large sheet and fold it down, you can cut the ends and get rid of the folds
    • Some parts of the sections might be blank
    • Less pages might be more expensive
    • If you just do it to pre-set, it saves time and money
    • For this, it is very helpful to know where your section breaks are
    • You can combine paper types and save money through that
  • You can use fluorescent ink, foil, and metallic
  • Print in black and change the colour of the paper to make a completely different effect
  • The colour of card and ink can change the colour of the board

Cool Ideas!

  • Laser cut dots into card to make an image
  • RGB print in those colours and put light behind it, paper screen

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