Requirements for Embossing
What do you need to know when
you emboss your job? What pitfalls do you need to avoid?
First, be aware that embossing is a
mechanical process that manipulates the paper stock--and,
by default, also manipulates your design. Also be aware
that embossing follows the printing stage. Embossing before
printing would provide a more fragile product that would
be crushed by the press rollers during the printing process.
With these facts in mind, do the following when planning
- Set your type with more space
between letters than usual. Once embossed, the letters
will be slightly closer than you had initially placed
them. This goes for small design elements as well. If
you put them too close to one another, they can merge
and become one element once the embossing has been done.
- To avoid wrinkling your printing
paper, keep design elements away from the edges of the
- Set your type larger than
9 point. In fact, use this approach with all design elements,
including rules. Embossing makes design elements look
smaller and reduces the sharpness of smaller items. Rules
that are too thin may also cut through the paper, so make
your rules larger than 1/32 inch.
- Consider the heat and pressure
an embossed piece will endure when you design anything
that will run through a xerox machine or laser printer.
Digital printing equipment will flatten your embossing.
If you're feeling lucky, at least run a test embossed
sheet through your equipment before committing to embossing
the entire press run. Also, the depth of the embossing
does make a difference as well.
Color Correction on Press
You're on a press check. The
printer brings out a sheet, and the color of a key element
is wrong. What do you do? How do you communicate the changes
you want to the printer?
First of all, the printer is an expert
at operating the press. Therefore, it is prudent to describe
the results you want rather than the way to achieve these
results. Specifically, if you tell the printer to increase
the magenta 5 percent and this makes matters worse, it's
your responsibility. If, on the other hand, you ask the
printer to match a certain area of the proof because the
color is washed out, the printer can use his knowledge and
experience to make this happen without adversely affecting
other areas of the press sheet. The best course of action
is to give the printer an actual sample to match.
Remember also that all portions of
a four-color image are made up of tiny dots of each of the
four colors. Certain colors are often more prevalent than
others in any one area. Therefore, if you reduce one color
to minimize a color cast, you may actually be taking away
dots that make up detail within a particular area of the
four-color image. So you may have to compromise between
detail and accurate color within your photo.
Compromise is key in overall color
correction as well. Increasing the magenta to improve an
image on one page may introduce a pinkish cast into the
ad on the page immediately above your four-color photo on
the press sheet. This is called an in-line color conflict,
and you will need to compromise.
Decide which elements must be
correct and which elements can deviate from perfection.
For instance, you might want to tell your printer that holding
the detail in the transparency is more important than maintaining
absolutely faithful color. Or you may say that color fidelity
in the ad on page 10 is more important than color fidelity
in any in-line editorial photo.
UV Cracks with Saddle Stitch
It's true. It's up to you to
deal with it. But how can you minimize the fact that UV
coating cracks when you produce a saddle-stitched book?
- Choose a cover stock that
is coated on one side only to minimize cracking.
- Fold with, rather than against,
the grain of the paper.
- Score the paper first.
- Trim the sheet off-press with the
coated side up.
- Avoid printing over the folds.
In particular, avoid printing a heavy, dark solid over
an area that will fold.
Nothing will make this problem
disappear completely. These suggestions, however, will help.
[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.]