Full Color Print | Spot Color Print | Periodical Advertising

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Full Color Printing

Nowhere has desktop publishing made so profound a change in the capabilities of an artist as in full-color (4-color process) printing. Simultaneously, the artist has more choices and more pitfalls than ever before. The world of full-color printing represents an amazingly complex communication process between the artist, his or her creative software, the image setter and the printing press.

While an artist is designing, it is important to understand how each of these processes work. It can be a very frustrating experience when artwork which looks great on the computer screen fails to return the same results on press.

In my example to the left, I began with the design. It is a 3-panel fold brochure and I wanted the piece to work regardless of how it was opened. This required special attention to the cropping and bleeding of the images.

Color is one of the areas where many full-color print jobs fall apart. A computer screen utilizing "RGB" sampling where the colors are combinations of red, green and blue light. Printing presses rely on "CMYK", the combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow and blue ink. There are colors in each process which can not be duplicated between the two. After choosing my initial palette in this piece, I verified that the colors would transpose well from screen to press.

The example I've shown was produced on a PC platform. Contrary to popular belief, it is no more difficult to produce printed pieces on the PC as it is a Macintosh platform. The key is understanding the screen to press process.

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Spot Color Printing

Perhaps the most economical way to make a colorful impact to a print job is through spot color. Often it's referred to as "two" or "three" color, but that is misleading. Through the use of screen tinting (percentages of a single color) it has a much greater range than one would think.

In designing the piece exampled, I chose a warm brown color to accompany black which is reflective of the event, "Harvest Crafts Festival". While it is a color dark enough to contrast with the white paper, it's hue is in contrast with the black. It is such interaction which makes for a successful spot color job.

There are many studies available on the psychology of color. These can be a helpful tool in choosing the right color for the job. Nothing beats contrast, however when it comes to attracting attention. It is the reason why caution signs are generally seen in black and yellow. In addition a color's "heat" can bring it forward or backward in the composition. "Warm" colors towards the red end of the spectrum will advance while "cool" colors at the blue end recede. It's this optical illusion which 3-D movies have been using for years.

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Periodical Advertising

This is the basis of all other advertising and promotional art. To understand how to capture your audience with only one color while it's in the jumble of articles, photos and other advertising is to grasp at the heart and soul of commercial art.

In my example, I began with a large image. Photos sell. This happened to be an excellent example of a dynamic image which my client provided me. The angles of the pipes add excitement and energy to the composition.

Another choice I made was to put the company's name vertically on the page. Not only did this utilize the space better and allow me to use a much larger scale, it also adds to the dynamics of the ad. Nearly all of a periodical is designed to read left-to-right. By altering that perspective, it further adds emphasis to the brand being sold.

Although there is a good deal of body copy, something that may as a rule-of-thumb be avoided, it's place among the other strong images is secondary and was allowable as more of an after-thought rather than the focus.

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Joni Massengale Design Arts
Charlotte, NC 28269
704-726-9003 · jonim@oinkproductions.com
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