Press test to confirm palette for a magazine series

Test to confirm palette for a magazine series

If your design idea calls for an unusual printing technique, there’s nothing like a press test for making sure it’s going to work—and being able to show a hesitant client exactly how the printed design will look.

To test or not to test?

This press test compared the legibility of black body copy to PMS warm gray 11 and tested the CMYK-build palette for a web-press-printed magazine series.

Other good candidates for press tests are spot color projects that incorporate Duotones, ink overprints, or metallics and metallic tints. These techniques can’t be represented accurately on digital CMYK proofs, which are often somewhat misleading in how they interpret spot colors or metallics.

A press test is not usually necessary on a straight CMYK job, because the printer’s proofs will approximate quite closely what you can expect on press.

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Press test for an annual report with silver overprinting

A useful press test includes a variety of line weights, color build choices, type sizes and weights, knock-outs, and tint percentage options. It includes several variations of the tech- nique you’re testing, such as the tints of silver over-printing various tints of cyan at left. Your print rep can suggest other elements to include.

After the test is done, but before the final printer files are created, the designer, print rep and electronic production artist should review the press sheet together. The rep can advise on any problem areas that the test has revealed and the designer can select the best options to build into the release files.

a press test is cheap insurance

The printers I’ve worked with regard press tests as relatively inexpensive insurance policies for happy customers. Press tests pinpoint problems before the deadline looms and communicate project expectations to pre-press operators and pressmen. The test sheets also provide them with a visual example of what the designer will be looking for at press and make it quicker to get the job dialed in.

Although you can’t expect a press test to be free, I’ve often been able to negotiate a very reasonable price for testing on larger projects like annual reports and magazines. You might be surprised at how amenable your printer will be to make a press test affordable for your edgier projects.