Reviewing a Blueline Proof
What should you look for when reviewing
the blueline your printer sends you?
Remember that this proof has been made
from the final film from which plates will be made. Keep
changes to a minimum. They will be expensive.
First, compare everything in the blueline
with the laser proofs you provided. Isolate the items you
are checking (complete copy, accurate line breaks, photo
cropping, etc.) and then check each in a separate pass.
You will be less likely to miss errors this way.
Make sure all pages are complete (no
dropped copy or images). Make sure typefaces have not changed
due to missing fonts, and check line breaks for accuracy.
Don't forget to check folios to make sure all pages are
in their proper order.
Check margins; alignment of type on
facing pages; and crossovers of type, rule lines, and photos
on facing pages.
Review the photos to make sure they
are in their proper place, cropped accurately, of pleasing
contrast with crisp focus, and with no visible flaws or
blemishes. If you have flopped any photos, check one final
time to make sure you have not flopped type (nametags with
backward names and logos, for instance). If the photos do
not show sufficient contrast or detail on the blueline,
you can always request a white print (Velox), also created
from the final film from which the job will be printed.
Check color placement (the printer
should have noted areas that will be in PMS colors, and
the blueline should show color differences as different
shades of blue). If color placement is complex, consider
requesting a color proof (digital or film-based).
Measure the trim size of the final
proof and check all folds for accuracy. Also look for hand-written
notations from the printer showing placement of perforations,
diecuts, embossing, foil stamping, etc.
Ensure that all changes to the prior
proof have been incorporated.
Circle any blemishes (broken type,
dust spots, etc.). It is better to be excessive in noting
flaws rather than to assume the flaws are just in the blueline.
Directly on the blueline, write any
instructions to your printer in clear language in a contrasting
ink color, and include any questions you have as well.
Check the sign-off sheet that accompanies
the blueline to make sure the colors to be used, the press
run, etc., are as you expect.
Check the entire proof from the point
of view of the reader. Is everything clear? Does it flow
smoothly? This is not the time to redesign the piece, but
it is cheaper to fix a major flaw even at the film stage
than to reprint the job later.
Proofing Options Beyond Bluelines
What proofing options exist beyond bluelines
for reviewing color work?
Digital color proofs based on dye sublimation,
thermal wax, ink-jet, and toner (laser) technology are constantly
being improved. For direct-to-plate work they are essential
(since no film exists), but for pleasing (as opposed to
showcase) color work, they are often acceptable and are
much cheaper than film-based proofs. For critical work in
which plates are created from film, depend only on laminate
Laminate proofs are created from film
and are composed of dyes or toners on transparent film sheets
bonded (laminated) together to form one piece. Often they
can be bonded to the paper on which your job will be printed.
Since they do not show dot gain, and since many laminate
proofs are glossy, these proofs will usually look slightly
better than the final printed piece. Use these proofs for
critical color work.
They are far more accurate than digital
proofs. Of course, for direct-to-plate printing, these are
not an option.
Overlay proofs, which are cheaper than
laminate proofs, adequately show trapping and color placement.
However, colors are not always accurate if you have included
PMS colors in your project. Overlay proofs are composed
of separate sheets of transparent film, one for each color,
taped together at the top of the proof. You can lift up
each sheet to see how the colors will look individually
For absolutely critical work, the only
proof that shows what the final print job will look like
is a press proof: actual ink on paper. This is the most
expensive alternative, but it will accurately show how the
paper will affect the colors, folding, etc., of your job.
[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.]