Los Angeles InDesign User Group
Preparing PDF Files for Printing and Field Trip to International Printing Museum
Thursday, July 19, 2018
By William Baughman and Alvin Takamori
The July meeting of the Los Angeles InDesign User Group was a very special event. The organization took a field trip to the International Printing Museum in Carson. It may not be a place you are aware of, but it truly is a hidden treasure. I'll have more about that later. For this meeting, there wasn't one speaker, there were three!
The first two presenters discussed preparing PDF files for printing. Nola Tamblyn, Prepress System Analyst at Southwest Offset Printing started the evening discussing the requirements for offset printing. Open web offset presses have more movement and require a .25" bleed and farther crop marks. Images should always be in a CMYK colorspace. Pantone colors should be converted to CMYK unless you plan on paying the additional cost of printing with Pantone inks. Ink density has to be constantly monitored to maintain color standards. Your PDF should have a maximum ink density of 1.8-2.6. Use Acrobat Pro or the InDesign Separations Preview palette to measure the ink density.
It’s important to know how you're going to print before you start designing. Many times knockout black will be converted to overprint so small text will not have a problem with registration. Small text should be black ink only and not rich black.
The next presenter for the evening was Rob Swaine, Business Development/Customer Relationship Manager at ColorNet Press. ColorNet Press uses either sheet fed or an indigo press. To start the printing process they want a low resolution PDF first so they can run a color proof. Most clients are color critical even if they think they are not. The low resolution PDF shows them the color they are going to get before it’s too late to change. They prefer PDFx-1a2001 PDFs. The printer will use a mathematical formula to compensate for "pushout," the result of pages folding during the binding process.
ColorNet Press specializes in higher-end art and fashion books. For the best printing results, do not downsample images in your PDF with JPG compression. Instead use ZIP for compression. Don't use the default Marks and Bleed settings. Instead use crop marks and increase the bleed to 0.25". Make sure "transparency flattener" is set to "high resolution." They will also adjust spreads for crossover graphics. A crossover is an image, type, or graphic that goes across the gutter to make a full spread. A larger bleed allows for more flexibility with the printer to make precision adjustments.
Generally, they print at a 200 line screen. Always talk to your printer about print settings before you send your PDF. Preflight is always done to ensure print quality. Lastly, they prefer live type instead of outlined type.
The final presenter was Mark Barbour, Director and Curator of the International Printing Museum. Mark, a very funny and charismatic man, gave us a tour and history lesson of the museum and the various presses in the collection.
The tour started with the press Benjamin Franklin used for his printing empire. He then showed us the Gutenberg press and showed us an example of one of the Gutenberg Bible pages. It looked like it was hand drawn with all the flourishes and illustrations. All the presses in the museum were in working order, so he could demonstrate how the press was hand-cranked to make an imprint on the paper. Next, he showed us the Grasshopper press, which was used for small town newspapers. Individual cast letters were comprised mostly of lead, with some tin and antimony mixed in to create a durable metal that could withstand repeated use. It all had to be positioned and locked into beds by hand.
Next he demonstrated a Linotype machine. This sophisticated workhorse of the newspaper industry was invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler to bypass the tedious handsetting of type. It has a unique keyboard linked to brass molds of letters, which could be assembled into a line. A system of wedges could adjust the spacing between words to maintain a justified line of type. Once the line of type was set, hot lead was pressed against the molds to create a metal line of type. This metal was softer than the hand set cast metal letters used for letterpress machines, because it would only be used for one job. It was mesmerizing to watch this machine working.
We then adjourned to chairs and were taught how individual pieces of type were cast—including an actual hot metal demonstration.
The tour itself was incredible. It was obvious that Mark has extensive knowledge and a love of printing, which he was eager to share. To learn more, visit the International Printing Museum's website, or better yet, visit the museum itself.
This meeting turned out to be one of the best ones this organization has had. If you don't believe me, here's some of the feedback from people who attended.
"Everything was awesome. It was my first time."
"Wonderful museum! Our tour presenter, Mark was especially great!"
"The best event we ever had. This was excellent!"
"Excellent! Best one yet. Thank you!"
"Great tour! The venue was super cool and the presenter gave live demos. Such an engaging presenter. This was a unique chance to learn and play at the same time. Thanks!"
"Incredible choice of topic. An amazing venue. Well worth the drive. What I liked most about this meeting is that it was held at the Printing Museum."
Farthest Attendee Prize Winner
Mighty Deals—Waverly Reed
Special Raffle Prize
International Printing Museum WWII Plaque: "This a Printing Office" Poster—Waverly B. Reed
Raffle Prize Winners
PDF2DTP from Markzware. 12 month subscription—Matrice Hawkins
Expo Creative Asset Manager for Mac from Insider Software—George Wilde
Font Agent Pro 8 from Insider Software—Albert Javier
InMotion Hosting. Web hosting and free domain—Albert Javier
DTP Tools Cloud for InDesign. 6 month subscription—George Wilde
Adobe Stock. 15 image licenses—Sandra Vierra
InDesign Magazine. 6 month subscription—Enrique Gamez
LA Web Professionals Group meeting tickets—David Mera, Peter Pawlyschyn, John Ringwald, Bing Wong