Insights from Print-Newbie Designers

By | April 2, 2016

Recently, I ran across an online article on how designers can avoid newbie mistakes when designing for print. With fewer design schools offering a good print education these days, I was intrigued. Not by the article itself necessarily, but by the comments (all 61 of them!) and how many designers admitted to making these fundamental mistakes.

Here were some of the challenges in designing for print that designers fessed up to making.

Specing too much ink coverage. Noted one, “I’ve had web clients in the past ask me to put together magazine adds, and come across issues like the amount of ink required being too thick. Any advice on how to set up photographs for print?”

Using Photoshop black on all jobs rather than a blend when necessary. One designer admitted, “I had no idea that Photoshop black was so bad. I use it all the time!”

Not designing at full scale. Noted one prepress expert involved in the conversation: “Design a print item with the canvas set accordingly. Don’t expect to be able to just simply enlarge you entire design when done to fit any dimension.”

Not proofreading. Many designers mess around with (or even write) headlines, subheads, and captions. Then they send the page out without proofing it, leaving embarrassing typos and other errors in the final (and unfortunately, often printed) layout.

Not understanding the conversion from RGB to CMYK. One designer complains, “The biggest issue I have is color. Something will look great on my screen in CMYK, then I print it out and the colors are duller than expected. I struggle getting an accurate representation on my screen as to how it’s really going to look and often end up disappointed.”

In the end, the readers of this post seemed grateful for the quick and dirty explanations.  Here are some more comments:

  • “It sadly happens that I’ve broken more than half of the rules when creating my print designs.”
  • “Great post. Wish I had this 6 months ago when I made the jump from web to print!”
  • “I have encountered a lot of these in the past. Now learning the best steps to take when going from digital to print.”
  • “I so need this. Some of this was a refresher, and some I’m definitely guilty of, even now with 8 years experience!”

The takeaway for you? Don’t assume that the designers you are working with understand the fundamentals of print, even if they’ve been in the business for a long time. Use this as a springboard for establishing yourself as the expert and invaluable resource. Add print design tips to your e-newsletter or blog. Offer an in-house seminar or webinar for virtual learning.

Whatever you do, get the information out there, because you never know what job it might save.

Share this post