The following are some common design and printing terms. If you require further explanation of these, or other terms, please feel free to contact us at 603-534-2040 or graphics@digrafika.com

My printer asked for a vector logo; what does vector mean?

Vector-based art is art calculated and drawn mathematically in your computer and printer. This means art can be reduced or enlarged without any loss in definition or resolution. Type and lines remain crisp at any scale, not bitmapped. Usually the file type is smaller than bitmapped art. Drawing programs used to create vector art include Adobe Illustrator (ai) and CorelDraw (cdr).

What is raster or bitmapped art?

Raster or bitmap art is composed of individual elements called pixels, similar to a real photo. One may use a paint or photo program to compose a bitmapped image, or scan art in from a printed original. The resolution of the art determines the size of the file and the quality of the reproduction. Bitmapped art cannot be reduced or enlarged without losing detail, definition and resolution. Ideally a resolution of 300 dpi for is used for print reproduction. Files of this type are generally larger than vector images, and can contain a great amount of data per pixel. Adobe Photoshop is a paint program used to create raster/bitmap images.

What does dpi mean?

Dpi is the abbreviation of “dots per inch”, and is a measure of resolution in a printer, scanner or monitor. The higher the number, the better the print quality. A minimum of 300 dpi is usually recommended for best quality printed results. Newer printers usually have about 600 dpi, and monitors have 72 ppi (pixels per inch). The dpi of the original art cannot be increased or decreased without some loss of quality and data.

What is CMYK?

CMYK stands for the ink colors Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, used in process color printing. CMYK is the standard color model used in offset printing full-color documents. When using the inks of these four basic colors, certain percentages of these colors can be added and subtracted to yield a variety of new colors. Combining 100% of all four colors together will yield black, while subtracting all the colors will yield white, or the color of the paper stock.

What is a spot color?

A spot color is a special premixed ink that is used in printing in addition to CMYK process inks, and requires its own plate on a printing press. Spot colors are used when only a few colors are necessary in a design and can accurately reproduce colors that are outside the gamut of process colors. They are not determined by altered color values or by color management, and follow a spot color matching system such as Pantone. Each spot color used will generate an additional spot color printing plate for a printing press, increasing printing costs. If you think your design may require more than four colors, consider printing the document using process colors (CMYK).

What is a PMS or Pantone® color?

Pantone®, Pantone Matching System and PMS are Pantone Inc’s standard trademarks for color standards, color data, color reproduction and color reproduction materials, and other color related products and services, meeting its specifications, control and quality requirements. Using Pantone colors will produce consistent color from more than one printer/supplier. Colors are normally referred to by a corresponding number on the Pantone palette.

What is RGB?

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue – the colors of light emitted as on a video monitor, rather than by absorbed, as with ink on paper. On a computer monitor all colors are made using the RGB system. Color matching becomes most difficult when properly converting RGB colors into CMYK colors, so that what gets printed looks the same as what appears on the monitor.

Why does it cost more to print process colors than spot colors?

Process or CMYK printing requires the use of 4 plates on the press. If your design uses only a few spot colors, then less ink and plates/setups will be needed on the printing press, and therefore costs will be slightly lower. One plate is used per ink color on the press. If you think your product may use several colors, you may want to consider process or full-color printing. Additionally, if your product requires foil stamping, or a varnish, extra production costs are also incurred.

What is a proof?

Proofing is a method of checking for errors prior to printing an order. The customer may check the final copy of the design before it gets sent to the printer and make changes if necessary. A press proof is often used by the printing press operator to ensure the the colors are registered (aligned properly), and the components of the design match a dummy provided by the artist, before printing the final product in the production of the order.

What is a dummy?

A dummy models the finished piece, can be marked with color breaks and folds, and can be made with the paper selected for the job.

What is offset printing?

Offset printing is a common printing process, where ink is transferred to paper stock by a blanket carrying the impression from the printing plate, rather than directly from the plate itself.

What is a bleed?

A bleed means the image extends beyond one or more sides of the page. A bleed ensures that after a page has been printed and trimmed, the image will still continue to the edge.
A full bleed requires the printer to use a sheet of paper larger than the desired end result. For instance, an 8.5″ x 11” full bleed page would be printed on 9” x 12” paper (or larger) before it is trimmed. Many office laser and inkjet printers cannot print a bleed.