Offset Printing Process

Primary tabs

5 posts / 0 new
Last post
DesignJ's picture
Joined: 30 Jul 2008 - 4:43pm
Offset Printing Process

Hi everyone I am a sophomore in college, studing graphic design. This summer on one of my days off I decided to shadow a press operator to better understand 4 color offset printing and to start building relations with local printing presses. While I had a great experience, watching and learning about how the press operates. I did not learn anything about what processes a graphic designer goes through when working with press operators. If there is any work, besides bring the design work in. Sorry I hope this doesn’t sound like a dumb question. I also know this is a type forum but thought I would ask anyways.


Jay O'Hare's picture
Joined: 19 Oct 2004 - 9:03am

I did not learn anything about what processes a graphic designer goes through when working with press operators. If there is any work, besides bring the design work in.

I do not understand the question.

James Mark Hatley's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2004 - 11:00am

The traditional check involves the pressperson bringing the job up to a level they deem acceptable. They pull a sheet and you inspect it under a D50 light station. If there is color work, you may have just the images on the actual stock run before the job runs and OK the color. At any rate, you have a printer's loupe, swatch book, and possibly a colorimeter.

What the press wants is a quick turn. On press they can push the color a little this way or that, but clean files shouldn't need much work. If you start making text changes or reworking at this stage you will never get a good price on a job again. When you know the pressperson and the press workflow you will be able to move jobs through rapidly with little fuss.

Don’t be surprised if at first a press will try and keep you off the press check. There are a variety of excuses for running a job without you being there. Just push to be involved and don’t ever delay the process unless it is really needed. Over time they will get to know you and work with you.

André's picture
Joined: 27 Feb 2008 - 2:10pm

Look for a printer who has color management in place who provides proofs. They will follow the proofs as for color. If you job is too complex with extra spot colors, then you need a proof and be by the press to check colors . I think the proofs are the best option and most printers offer that. Good luck .

Will Powers's picture
Joined: 16 Jun 2005 - 10:32pm

One of the best things a designer can do is to build good relationships with a few printers. When that happens, soon enough designer and press crew can begin to work very smoothly. The ideal situation is when a printer has a good color check station right at the press. Designer and press crew can then work together closely, right at the same spot.

I really dislike waiting in that sterile color check room waiting for them to bring me proofs. I want to be press-side. I can go somewhere and relax or work while the job is running and while I wait for the next form; that's OK.

& remember: the lead press operator is your best friend. Don't be adversarial. There are times when a designer needs to be firm, and to remind the printer who is in charge of the job. But these guys know how presses work far better than most designers (including myself, and I've been a press operator). As in all aspects of work, collaboration gets much better results than being a prima donna.