All print designers are familiar with deadlines and the havoc they can often wreak on your life! It is incredibly frustrating to spend hours and hours designing your work in Photoshop, only to send it to the printers and get back something far from what you had envisioned. These last-minute problems do more than increase your stress levels and blood pressure, they’re actually hugely damaging to your productivity. Especially if you’re a self-employed freelancer, you know that can spell very real problems for your bottom line.
So in order to smoothly transition from the design stage to printing, what processes should you put in place to avoid expensive (both in terms of finances and sanity) mistakes? It’s essential that you thoroughly proof your documents before going to the printers. Everything needs to be perfect, saving you time, money, and reputation. Here are some simple guidelines to follow:
Timing is critical
Discover your printer’s turnaround times before starting your project and plan your project milestones accordingly so that you can get your work into the printer’s hands on schedule. Missing your deadline could mean that your run can’t go ahead until your printer has freed up enough free time, which could be anything from days to weeks.
You should also plan to allow enough time for the printer to run your job twice, in case there are any errors in printing, machine failures, and any other unexpected delays. Planning guards against panic around the deadline and is essential to getting your product printed and delivered to the client on time and according to specifications.
Embed your fonts for accurate reproduction
You shouldn’t expect your printer to have a huge collection of fonts, especially the more eccentric ones in your library. In order to maintain your design’s integrity, embed your fonts directly into the document that you are printing. This will prevent font substitutions which can occur when the printer does not have your exact font. As any designer will know, there is a distinct difference between Garamond and Bookman, Courier and Times, so it’s well worth taking the time to include your font files with the document!
Print size matters
One of the most common mistakes made when printing is sending a document that is too small, which, if not corrected before the final run, can result in a printout that is fuzzy and lacking in clarity due to a lack of resolution. It’s imperative that you create your document the same size as it will be printed in order to avoid this embarrassing end result. Designing at actual size reduces the margin for error with graphics, fonts and layout once printed. Without taking adequate precaution, you’ll soon find that something that looks great on your screen soon turns into a design disaster when printed in the large format for which it was intended.
Proof your document thoroughly
Most designers have been there. You’ve sent your final piece of work off and had it printed up, only for the client to call you a couple of days later to tell you that their telephone number or web address was incorrect. What a nightmare! And one that often costs you a lot of money, or worse – a damaged reputation. It is essential that you allow yourself plenty of time to thoroughly proof your document for any typographical, punctuation and grammatical errors. Remember that a misplaced comma can dramatically change the meaning of a sentence, or a missing period or hyphen in an email address can make it impossible for customers to contact your client. One of the best ways to proof your copy is to read it backwards at least once. It may sound illogical, but it makes it much easier to spot any glaring errors.
Check your image proportions, dimensions and resolution
Your images should fit the size of the document, but even if you get the actual size of the image correct, don’t forget to check your resolution is high enough. Discrepancies like bitmapping and quality degradation can occur in images which are dramatically enlarged from their original size, a costly mistake resulting in a thoroughly amateur finished product. In order to get the best results in terms of finished product, make the resolution of your images 300DPI, the highest print resolution used at most print shops.
Consistency is key
One of the things that separates a highly successful brand from the rest is consistency in their presentation and style. With this in mind, make your margins consistent throughout your work, especially on multi-page documents. For booklets, page margins need to be equal on both the inside and outside. When you change something on one page, make sure that change is repeated on every other page, as anything else will look awkward and unprofessional. Look for consistency as part of your final proofing.
Convert your graphic to CMYK
As you would have learned very early on in life, every color in the rainbow is created with a mixture of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. To avoid costly color correction, convert your document from RGB to CMYK. Despite seeing no differences on screen, the printing difference is dramatic. It’s a small tip like this that can literally make or break your design, and save you a pretty penny at the same time!
Print out a proof
One of the easiest ways to ensure a quality finished item is to print out a proof of your design and give it to your printer so that they can clearly see the copy quality, colors, and finishing options which you wish for your document. You could also provide some notes to add extra clarity and eliminate any questions which may arise during the printing process. An added bonus is that when you provide a proof, it becomes the printer’s responsibility to live up to your expectations.
A document has bleeds when it is printed to the edges of the paper. This is a commonly seen practice in flyers and business cards. The standard bleed for your document should be 3mm to allow for any variations in printing and cutting.
Printers can accept many document formats, including the usual culprits like Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop, PDF, and Microsoft Word. However, it’s worth taking the time to make sure that your documents are in a format which is native to the printer’s machine – failing to do so could result in a lengthy, costly delay. Converting non-native files into readable formats usually results in layout errors, so if this is something you have to do then you’ll need to proof it all over again.
We’ve snapped some super close-ups of The Print Handbook. These photos are taken from the file types page where you can see for yourself why some files are better than others.
The Print Handbook has examples of JPGs, PNGs, GIFs, PSDs, TIFs, AIs and PDFs, all compared side by side. Here we’re just looking at a couple. Let’s start with the bitmap…
The photo below shows a close up of a 2MB TIFF at 300dpi. It handles the spot colour well (Pantone Orange 021) – a JPG file can’t handle spot colours and would print it using CMYK. But look at those crazy wobbly lines and you can barely read the text.
These results are in stark contrast. This time we’re looking at an 3MB Adobe Illustrator file.
Again the spot colour comes out correctly but the lines and text are so much sharper. The difference is incredible. This is why if you can create a vector file for print you should.
ROUND 2. FIGHT! [UPDATE]
Gez, in the comments, made some really good points. He put it so well I’ve quoted him:
“Nice article. I’d add, however, that the wobbly lines in bitmaps aren’t caused by the bitmap itself, but by the antialiasing applied to the edges to make them look soft. The shades of color used to smooth the edges of type and curves get dithered by the RIP.
“If you export your bitmap without antialiasing, the edges will be sharp. At 300 dpi you’ll probably see the jagged edges of the pixelated bitmap but adding more resolution the effect is mitigated. Actually, when you print vectors you’re not printing vectors, but a very high resolution raster image generated from those vectors. Without antialiasing and at high resolutions (1200 or 2400 dpi), you get sharp edges without dithering, and you won’t be able to see the pixelated edges.”
What Gez is saying is exactly right. And to prove this are the following photos (again from The Print Handbook). They are black and white bitmap files (in this case PSDs) with no antialiasing.
SO SHOULD ALL YOUR ARTWORK BE 2400DPI BITMAPS?
As you can see the last two photos in particular are pretty sharp. They produce smooth edges equivalent to those of a vector. So should all your files be 2400dpi bitmaps?
Well, no. The kind of artwork above works well with one solid ink. But if you start to include tints of that ink (like a 50% grey) you’ll get similar results to the first bitmap photo. Plus, your printer is unlikely to accept a 2400dpi TIF.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO THEN?
So, for photos (or similar artwork) stick with 300dpi bitmaps (JPGs and TIFs). For vector artwork keep it as a vector when it’s sent to print (PDFs or AIs). And occasionally you may find the need to submit a 2400dpi black and white bitmap, but this will be very occasional.
In 2019 we are definitely seeing designers taking several directions. We’ve found out that…
Graphic design trends 2019 are:
3D: Depth of a new generation
Anti-gravity: Flying & floating elements
Vivid colors & Dreamy color combos
Metallic effect: Golden, silver, iridescent
Fluid & liquid effect
Text with background
Realism + Flat mix
The color of the year 2019
Keep scrolling to discover more details about graphic design trends 2019.
Open compositions: Ditch the frames
The first of our graphic design trends 2019 predictions is open compositions. Not so long ago, designers used to put frames on everything to achieve the feeling of a finished design. Lately, there has been a tendency for open, airy designs which seem to show only a part of the whole “picture”. In 2019, we expect from designers to ditch the frames completely and surprise us with open, airy designs.
While each piece seems to show only a part of the whole design, designers can easily play with the composition and make it literally infinite with each part continuing the composition. This trend is easily achieved in web design but it is possible even on print designs.
Open composition often tap into the viewer’s imagination, making you wonder what else is there. Web design, as a part of the graphic design, in 2019 will also characterize with full-width open compositions and interactive websites to prolong the experience.
3D: Depth of a new generation
3D cannot possibly not make ti into graphic design trends 2019. 3D has proved itself as a quite stable and persistent trend for the last few years, so we are definitely going to see a lot of it in 2019. Luckily for all of us, technologies are evolving quite quickly allowing graphic designers to create amazing 3D masterpieces which make the viewer the almost immerse into the design.
The 3D trend is definitely going to be a huge part of web design in 2019, more often presented as open compositions taken up the roles of windows to another world. Designers will recreate pieces that remind of the real world and ones that take us to alternative universes or even into the future. The possibilities that this trend holds are really infinite, so in 2019, we certainly expect that this trend would flourish.
Typography will be definitely not bypassed by any of the graphic trends 2019 including 3D. Often created as the main visual element of the design, 3D typography gives designers freedom to improvise. Even by using 3D typography alone, graphic designers in 2019 will be able to make us immerse into a whole new world.
We may not have lived to see flying cars, yet but the era of flying elements in graphic design has definitely come. Flying and floating graphic elements are among our graphic design trends 2019 predictions. The idea of designs which move and behave like they are in a non-gravity environment conveys the overall feeling of freedom. Designed with an open composition in mind, these elements boost the major concept of a window to a new world, as they appear floating in and out of the screen.Video Player00:0000:05Project by Nahel Moussi, Louis Ansa, Romain Avalle
The 3D technique is often mixed up with the non-gravity concept which adds up to the realism of the composition. While 3D is certainly a field to unleash your designer’s potential, then the non-gravity concept definitely gives you a green light to spice up the composition even more.
The anti-gravity trend also appears in package design presentations, giving the product a feeling that it comes from a different world. The viewer can easily grasp the futuristic vibes when looking to these designs which naturally boost the curiosity. In result, an ordinary product easily transforms into an extraordinary one. Anti-gravity is indeed a concept that will be seen a lot in graphic design trends in 2019.
Vivid color combinations, as well as dreamy color transitions and gradients, will continue being trendy in 2019, only even more vivid. As they bring a futuristic feeling to the overall design, these color schemes will make you feel like you are in an alternative universe.
Using futuristic colors to create mesmerizing out-of-this-world designs really taps into the designer’s imagination and provides a lot of room for improvisation. Many graphic designers combine 3D visual technique with trendy vivid color transitions to mark graphic design trends 2019 with even more powerful looks.
The 3D technique plus vivid color transitions certainly makes million-dollar combination even when translated into a typography design. Well, typography is a huge part of graphic design, so multi-color typography designs like the following ones will certainly be common. We are definitely including this combo in graphic design trends 2019 predictions.
Gold never goes out of style but in graphic design trends 2019, we will be seeing a lot of other metal elements, incorporated into the designs, as well. Especially when it comes to 3D designs, golden and other metallic elements take the whole composition to the next level, making it look expensive and exclusive.
Displaying various metals with an iridescent color effect is a quite trendy look, as well. Such designs look enchanting and mesmerizing as they show a beautiful palette of lustrous colors when the light hits their surface.
Metallic elements, especially golden and iridescent, will often appear on package design in 2019, giving it a sense of luxury and exclusivity. The classic combination remains metallic on black and white but in 2019 we will be seeing a lot of golden on colorful package designs, as well.Video Player00:0000:03Design by Foxtrot Studio
One of our bold graphic design trends 2019 predictions. The surface of a water translated into a graphic design is certainly a trend that is going to make it in many visual designs in 2019. Be it water, oil, or another liquid substance, this trend inspires many of the contemporary designs and we expect it to keep it up that way during the next calendar year.
The liquid trend gives a lot of freedom when it comes to typography. Given the fact that liquids have different states and thickness levels, designers can easily improvise and give their compositions various unique liquid effects.
Liquid elements and effects will be present in web designs, as well. Combined with full-width open compositions, liquid textures in web design make the overall look more imaginary and mystique.Video Player00:0000:04Check out websiteVideo Player00:0000:04Check out websiteVideo Player00:0000:07Check out website
Patterns inspired by liquid will also be quite trendy in 2019. When liquids move, they draw natural paths thus shaping unique patterns and textures that can easily inspire graphic designers. Combined with floating elements and futuristic colors, the whole composition can appear really magical and dreamy.
Typography as an inseparable part of graphic design definitely follows certain trends – some that stay for years, and others that fade away pretty fast. As we’ve seen in the previous examples, typography could take different shapes and forms. It could be flat or come in a 3D shape. It could be liquefied or made with a metallic effect. One thing is for sure – typography in graphic design trends 2019 will definitely be maxi.
Moreover, typography will be actively involved in the design. In pursuit of more impactful graphic designs, we expect from designers to surprise us with creative pieces in which typography is an active part of the design interacting with real life objects and people. Combination of different font weights and density values, combinations between vertical, diagonal, and horizontal orientation, and even messy typography looks will be the norm in 2019.Video Player00:0000:03Project by Stefan Hürlemann
While other outline elements seem to have gone out of style, outline typography is becoming more and more popular, so we expect that it will definitely reach its peak in 2019. Often interacting with other elements in the compositions, we believe that outline letters in 2019 will be a major part of graphic design and web design next year, so we are definitely including this look in our prognosis for graphic design trends 2019.Video Player00:0000:05Check out websiteVideo Player00:0000:03Check out website
Maxi outline letters will often be seen on website designs, interior designs, brand identity designs. Graphic design trends 2019 will be marked with big outline lettering mixed with open compositions and 3D structures.
A bit risky prediction here but let’s say we have a feeling that text on background boxes will be among the graphic design trends 2019. The trend that may look retro to some can most certainly boost the edgy look of a composition combined with other trends that are riding the wave. From our point of view, text on background boxes looks youthful and rebellious, so it’s definitely going to be a hit quite soon.
Not that classic illustrations are ever going out of style but somehow incorporating alternative art into the graphic design makes the piece stand out. And that’s the point of graphic design, isn’t it?
In 2019, we believe we’ll be seeing a lot of improvisation in this field. Freestyle illustrations and doodles are definitely fun to look at. Add chaotic strokes and stains of color and there you have an artsy looking offbeat design that certainly makes an impression.
The trend is already entering the package design field, often in combination with other trends such as the metallic effect. The careful selection of colors and the unique shapes and positions in which strokes and stains are presented will certainly take package design out of the boring zone.
We are used to seeing classic doodles in the form of black-on-white simple concept illustrations. In 2019, we expect a more modern translation of the look like white on a dark background, combined with other design trends such as golden but still keeping the simplicity of the illustration style. Doodle illustrations often give the impression of infinity, so we expect to see them as a part of open composition designs.
Have you heard that the opposites attract? Graphic designers have always been combining and mixing complementing trends in order to please the viewer’s eye. But when it comes to creating something really innovative and unexpected, designers prefer to experiment with an unconventional mixture of techniques, styles, or in this case – dimensions. Real-life objects combined with completely flat visual elements, in our opinion, will be one of the graphic design trends 2019.
Often seen on website designs, package designs, editorial design and other kinds of graphic designs, the combination of realistic objects with fully flat simplified design elements and illustrations requires creativity, mastery, and most importantly, thinking outside of the box. This is why we put it straight into graphic design trends 2019 predictions.
Each year, there are designs inspired by the color of the year. Around the end of each year, the color dictator Pantone announces what the color of the next year would be. Naturally, this color makes it into all fields of graphic design industry including web design, package design, print design, etc.
For 2019, the color of the year is called Living Coral and it’s an energetic hue of coral with an undertone of golden.
For 2018, the color of the year is called Ultra Violet – a luxury and mystique shade of purple.
Just to sum up everything we’ve covered here, in 2019 we’ll be seeing a lot of open composition designs that tap into the viewer’s imagination. 3D designs will be quite mass but certainly not boring – their realism will almost make the viewer immerse into the composition. Vivid color schemes, as well as metallic elements, will make the designs look pretty and dreamy. Typography will be huge! And quite often – outline. We’ll be seeing art in its most unconventional forms and shapes, and of course, a combination of all of these trends and maybe some that haven’t thought of yet, will please the eyes in 2019.
UK-based designer Stephen Wildish gives a humorous take on the importance of color through these witty charts that are part of his weekly series of illustrations called ‘Friday Project’. Wildish’s minimalist infographics show how an object becomes something else entirely, only by changing its color. He’s even published a book filled with similar chats and funny visuals that’s available on Amazon. Check out his work below: