Prepress proofing can be a source of confusion for many people. There are some common questions about this process for which you may need answers. The process can involve different ways of proofing an item, and different phases that must be gone through. When you have the answers that you need you can make the best proofing decisions for your situation and printed materials.
What is prepress proofing?
Prepress proofing, sometimes called off press proofing, is a cost effective way to get a visual copy of a printing order without having to go through the labor and expense of a physical press proof. This method is not always best though, and when certain requirements like exact color matching are needed then a physical press proof may be the best choice in spite of the extra cost and work involved.
Why is a proof so important?
A proof allows the printer and the customer to check every small detail for errors before the printing process is started. If there are mistakes in the final design and these are not caught until after printing starts this can be much more expensive and time consuming to correct. Both the printer and the customer should check the proof very carefully before okaying it.
What do you need to know about bleed?
When you perform the prepress proofing any bleed needs to be taken into consideration. Bleed is the word used for an extra margin that extends beyond the finished page edge. This allows any graphics or images used to go all the way to the edge of the finished pages. If the proof does not have any bleed and this is desired then the printer needs to be informed immediately.
When full bleed layouts are created the bleed line always needs to end outside of the trim line. The trim line indicates where each page will be trimmed, and you want to ensure that the bleed continues past this line so that the image flows off the page.
From our article here about full bleed layouts.
What are the Different Proofing Stages Possible?
There are 6 different proofing stages that are possible when it comes to printed materials. These are:
- Proofing on the client end
- Soft proofing
- Hard proofing
- High resolution proofing
- Blue line proofing
- Advanced copy proofing
Good printing is the absence of mistakes. The proofs you sign off on give you a good idea of what your finished job should look like.
What is a Soft Proof?
A soft proof is a prepress proofing method that allows you to check a low resolution copy of the file once it is ready for production. This is often provided in a PDF format. A soft proof allows you to check the final design elements and also ensures that the file and the data it contains has not been corrupted in any way.
What is a Wet Proof?
A wet proof is an actual physical printed proof based on the files that you have given the printer. Every element, from the paper and ink used to any specialized techniques, will be present in a wet proof. This type of proof does require special press set up and is more expensive and labor intensive to provide. If specific color matching is desired a wet proof may be best.
What is an HRD Proof?
After the soft proof has been approved by the customer an HRD proof may be used as part of the prepress proofing process as well. This proof uses a chemical based paper specifically designed for proofing to ensure the best color matching profile. The press run colors are mimicked but different stocks and inks are used than what a wet proof involves.
Which Proofing Method is Best?
The best prepress proofing method will depend on the various factors involved in a specific order. In some cases a soft proof can be the most cost effective method available, and the colors in the graphics do not have to be perfectly matched with 100% precision. Sometimes a hard proof may be worth the extra time, money, and trouble though, because you have an exact copy of the final item for proofing.
What Should You Check in the Proof?
When you are prepress proofing you need to look at everything, even the slightest details and elements. The final layout of each component, the colors, text, and graphics used, and even the final size of the letters and graphics. Once you give approval for the proof provided the printer will start the printing process, and it will be a lot more money and work if mistakes are found after this point.
Check the overall reproduction of color. Focus on “memory” colors such as blue skies, green grass, and red tomatoes as they can be the toughest to match.
Las Vegas Color Graphics press check and prepress analysis makes the difference between an extraordinary print job and an inferior one. Call us at 702.617.9000 to get started with your printing project.