The formula for a perfect tri-fold brochure 
Wednesday, June 13, 2007, 04:04 PM - Page Layout
Have you ever been frustrated when your brochure comes back not folded where you intended? It is a common mistake for designers to make three equal sized panels for a tri-fold brochure. The reality is that the inside panel should be smaller than the other two so that it physically fits inside the brochure. If you do use three equal panels, most often the brochure will be trimmed short on that inside panel or the cut of the whole piece will be shifted to make folding easier. On many designs this is just fine, as the design might have large margins and be forgiving for the folding.

But if you want your tri-fold to always come out right, there is a formula for calculating the size of each panel.

Length of the sheet = (3X)+0.25

Solving for X gives you the size in inches of the smallest (inside) panel.

See this example for an 8.5x11 tri-fold:
X=3.58 inches

Then just solve for the other two panels, keeping in mind that the front cover can go slightly past the middle panel. Remember that the other side of the sheet is a mirror image and not the same exact layout. The following two images show the panel sizes, front and back, for this example:

This formula will work for any size tri-fold if you simply plug in the length of the sheet and solve for X. No complaining, a little algebra never hurt anyone.
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Requirements for a postcard when Bulk mailing 
Thursday, July 27, 2006, 02:18 PM - Page Layout
The Post Office has certain requirements for postcards when bulk mailing. There are areas on the back side of a postcard that the Post Office needs; and, if these areas are covered with graphics or text, the Post Office will not make a delivery. Below are examples of four different postcard sizes: 3.75”x6”, 4.25”x6” (considered standard size), 4.75”x8.5” and 6”x9”. These illustrate what the Post Office requires for bulk mailing. Refer to the first illustration below with the following description:

1. ( blue area ): For first class, Postage return address must be placed here.

2. ( purple area ): Your indicia should be in this area.

3. ( white area ): This is the indicia. The smallest font size on an indicia should be 6pt and the size of the indicia should be 3/4” wide by 3/4” high. Check your mail house, they should be able to supply you with a file.

4. ( purple area ): Your mailing address should be in this area. Graphics or text used as a background in this area should be grayscale and SHOULD NOT be greater than 7%.

5. ( purple area ): The Post Office prints their barcodes in this area. There SHOULD NOT be any text or graphics in this area.

6. ( yellow area ): No addresses with a Zip code and State. This will eliminate the risk of your postcards being returned to you by the Postal automation process. If necessary, an address can be placed in this area if it does not contain a state zip code. The Post Office will scan this entire area for recipient addresses and zip codes.

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I See Your True Colors Shining Through (the better way to convert to CMYK) 
Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 05:26 PM - Color Related
Sooner or later, every graphic designer finds a beautiful photograph, that their client just falls in love with, and absolutely can't live without. An image so bright and vivid, that it just knocks their socks off; but when the image is converted to CMYK for printing, it ends up looking like a big brown and grey mess. Certain colors just will not ever look the same in CMYK as they do in RGB. But, for all of you lovers of bright, vivid color out there, do not despair, there is hope.

By learning how rendering intent works, you too can make your photos look like they should, reguardless of their CMYK color space.

Let's say that you have an RGB picture that looks like this:

The first step in converting any image to CMYK, is figuring out which colors will be problematic for process printing. In Photoshop, this can be done by checking the gamut warning. (VIEW MENU - GAMUT WARNING) The gamut warning works by analysing your image, and replacing the preview with a "warning color" wherever your image has colors that can not be represented by your destination color space [working CMYK Space,(this is set in the edit menu under color settings)] This shows you which colors will not correctly convert to CMYK.

Here is the gamut warning for our picture.

As you can see by the ammount of grey, this photo contains a lot of colors that will not convert perfectly.

When this happens, the most important thing to understand, to achieve the desired result is how to control the way color management handles the colors that are out of gamut. In most color management systems, the setting for controling colors that are out of range is called "rendering intent".

In Photoshop, the easiest way to control these colors, is to use the "convert to profile" dialog window (under the edit menu in CS2). In this window, you can see the source profile of the image, and set the destination profile. All this is doing, is telling you, which icc color profile is currently assigned to the image, and asking you how the image will be finally output. The "convert to profile" window looks like this:

In this example, my color management working space is set to "North America General Purpose". For almost all commercial printing, choosing the "U.S. Web Coated (SWOP v.2) destination space is a good choice, because, not only is it the default in most current applications, but it is a fairly good CMYK profile.

You will also see the setting for "rendering intent" in this window. This setting will really make the most difference in helping you to convert your images to CMYK, while preserving the colors that are most important.

There are four different settings for rendering intent in Photoshop CS2. Each one has it's own characteristic for converting colors that are out of range to a printable CMYK color.

Perceptual- This rendering intent will change ALL of the colors in your image in an attempt to keep the tonal contrast the same, but change the colors so that everything is in gamut.

Saturation- This rendering intent will move the colors of you image that are out of range to another tone in attempt to preserve the saturation of the tones. While this will might change the tone of your colors, this intent is great for keeping the colors bright and vivid.

Relative colorimetric- This rendering intent WILL ONLY CHANGE THE COLORS THAT ARE OUT OF RANGE, moving them to the closest color that can be reproduced by the output profile (CMYK). This is in my opinion the best default, because it will convert your colors as faithfully as possible, with little or no unnecessary tone change. It does sometimes fall short if your image has a lot of colors out of range.

Absolute colorimetric- This rendering intent, like relative colorimetric, will only change the colors that are out of range, but will desaturate them with no tonal shift, until it creates a color that can be reproduced by the output profile. While extremely accurate tonally, this intent usually leaves the colors looking a little weak and washed out in appearance.

Here is what the image looks like using the saturation intent VS RGB:


Absolute Colorimetric:

Relative Colorimetric:

As you can see all three conversions to the exact same CMYK profile have different characteristics.

Saturation is great and bright, but some of the colors are not as faithfully reproduced.

Absolute colorimetric seems a little faded, but very faithful tonally.

Relative colorimetric is very faithful tonally, but the colors that are out of range are not quite as bright as the original.

Whenever you are converting a photo with a large number of colors that are out of range, I would recommend simply:

• opening up the "convert to profile" dialog
• click the preview button
• watch the image change as you select different rendering intents.

Once you find the rendering intent that best suites your needs for the image, perform the conversion. By taking this extra step, I think that you will find that you can breathe new life into your final CMYK printed piece.

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Does Your Design Make The Cut? 
Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 03:46 PM - Bindery/Post-Press
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of graphic design is desingning for production. Not only does a product have to look good on the screen, but someone has to actually make it. There are many logistical factors to think about before you even begin to design. This can save a lot of time later, or prevent re-printing a job at your own expense.

Lets begin with how jobs get printed. Unless you are ordering a large poster or a whole press run, your job will be printed on the same sheet with other jobs. This is called a "Gang Run", because multiple jobs are run together. So if you order 1000 business cards, we don't print a sheet with 80 copies of one card, because that would only take 13 sheets. Instead, your card is on the sheet once with many other jobs and we print 1000 sheets, which is much more efficient.

A common assumption is that every sheet of paper we print on is exactly the same size. Actually, there can be a lot of variation in the size and shape of each sheet. However, for subsequent cutting it is essential that the image is in the same place on the sheet. As the sheet goes through the press the image is registered to one side and one corner. This is called the "Gripper and Guide". Also, the sheet can stretch up to 1/16" as it goes through the press, depending on the type of paper. On a 23" sheet this is not really noticeable, but worth mentioning.

At Wizard Graphics, we have extremely tight tolerances to reduce error as much as possible. Our cutter is accurate to 0.001 inches, and can easily cut 300 sheets of cardstock at a time. The many cuts required for a complicated gang run can be programmed so that 1000 sheets can be cut the same even if cut 300 at a time. In our business card example, when a gang run comes off the press as a stack of 1000 sheets, someone has to cut it out. The sheets are jogged into the cutter by hand to the gripper and guide so that the image will be in the same place on every sheet.

You might be asking, "Why does this affect how I design my job?"
In theory, it shouldn't matter at all, but in real life it is important to understand that people are involved and there must be some room for error. On that note, it is easy to design a job that does not account for this. Really thin borders or borders that are close to the edge are noticeable if cut even slightly wrong. Also, text cannot go right up to the edge of the page because it might be cut off. The easy fix is to make sure all borders and text have at least a 1/8 inch margin from the finished edge of the page. The bigger the margin, the less noticeable it will be if it is cut slightly wrong. It is also for this reason that we ask for 1/8 inch bleeds past the finished edge of the page.

In summary, this is not to discourage you from being creative in your design, but merely some helpful information to ensure that all of your printing looks the best that it can. Understanding every aspect of commercial printing including production is the first step to becoming a better designer.
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Overprinting objects and text with a white fill or stroke is a big no no 
Wednesday, July 12, 2006, 04:45 PM - Color Related
This doesn’t happen very often but we do have cases in which customers send us a file that has white text set to overprint. Objects or text with white fills or strokes should never be set to over print because there will be no white fills or strokes in that area; the white will disappear on the final piece. Example “A” below has a white fill on the words “Castle Rocks” and prints correctly because overprint was not turned on. Example “B” below is the opposite and should be avoided unless you intend to achieve that affect on your final piece. To avoid the problem on example “B” you should do the following before sending us your final file:

1. Select anything with a white fill or stroke and make sure your overprint for that object is turned off( if you have this option available). In programs such as Adobe Indesign and Illustrator you can select any object(s) and use the “attribute menu” to check and see if your object(s) overprints or not.

2. Turn your overprint preview option on ( if it’s available in your program ) and you will see what objects will be overprinting (refer to examples A and B above). If you want your text to look like example “A” above and your text fill is set to overprint, you might be surprised to find that your white text has disapeared (similar to example “B” from above) when your overprint preview is turned on.

NOTE: In Quark Express, do not create a new white swatch without setting all trapping settings to “Knockout”.

Where is the overprint preview located usually?
To turn the overprint preview on in Adobe Indesign, do this: Go to the “View menu” on the top of your document and choose “Overprint preview”. In Adobe Acrobat professional go to the “Advanced menu” on the top of your document and choose “Overprint preview”. We recomend you download Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0 from Adobes’ website. To turn the “Overprint preview” on in Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0, go into Acrobats’ preference menu, and click on “Page Display” on the left side of the menu when the preference menu pops up, and click the “Overprint Preview” option to check it. Next close the “Preference” menu. Your overprint preview in Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0 should be activated now.

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