Help! Pre-press question: tints/Indesign

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by AngelaA, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. AngelaA macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2008

    I have been producing graphics on screen for years but am now starting to learn about producing graphics for print: a whole new world of pain!

    This question might be really stupid but please understand I have zero experience of producing artwork/layouts and then getting them printed on a commerical press so please forgive me!

    Ok, so I'm watching an Indesign video tutorial today and the helpful tutor is explaining about the dangers of spindly/small reversed out text. So far so good.

    Then he points out that if text is coloured with a tint swatch (say, 30% cyan) it wont look as sharp on paper as it does on screen as it's made up of dots. The edges losed definition and break up.

    Ok, but then how on earth does anyone ever print text in lighter colours? - a very light blue, for example - which when I create in indesign has exactly the same cmyk values as a tint anyway.

    And does this lack of definition apply to shapes as well as text! I'm now scared of using any light coloured things in my designs at all - which is obviously stupid as pretty much everyone else in the world seems capable of producing artwork with light coloured text/shapes.:D

    Any words of wisdom?
  2. shecky Guest


    May 24, 2003
    Obviously you're not a golfer.
    you print small text like that with a single light-blue spot PMS color which is printed at full blast rather than screened back. part of the way an offset press makes things lighter when screened back is to shrink the size of the dots, which makes for rough edges, etc. using a single, correctly colored spot color alleviates this. it does however add to the cost of the job as you need to pay for another plate.
  3. AngelaA thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 5, 2008
    Thanks for that.

    So all small text in light colours is printed in a spot colour? In magazines and on packaging, for example?

    Does this apply to larger text too? - and what's the kind of tint levels one can get away with before you're probably better off with a spot color?
  4. design-is macrumors 65816


    Oct 17, 2007
    London / U.K.
    Not to take away from what shecky says, which is entirely true... But it would be best to ask the printers that you intend to use about the ability of their equipment. You may find your worrying about nothing for the purposes you are intending. Give them a call and email them a sample of what you want to have done. Most places should happily offer free advice to make your job turn out better - its good business.
  5. Kwill macrumors 68000


    Mar 10, 2003
    To produce a large area of solid color, the page must be pretty saturated with ink. As paper absorbs more ink, it spreads a little. How much? Enough to nearly close up small serifs or hairline rules reversed out of the background color.

    Registration on modern sheet-fed presses is quite good. Web offset presses for magazines print so rapidly, it is easy for several thousand of impressions to deviate a row of dots. (All colors are made up of dots.) On either type of press, ink gain can vary from 18 to 28 percent.

    Tinted small text has a very narrow margin of error. If registration is off by just one row of dots, one or more color components (CMYK) can miss the characters entirely, significantly altering the tint. Potential dissatisfaction is compounded with background ink spread.

    Picture a small serif measuring a mere half point reversed out of a solid background that expands 25 percent in all directions of that serif. That half point serif is reduced to a quarter point.

    How do others print tinted text with backgrounds? Here are some tips that can be combined to improve legibility.
    1. Don't use small text. Cut copy if necessary.
    2. Avoid, if possible, small serif fonts. (Consider sans serif or slab serif.)
    3. Increase weight of font to at least medium (not light or regular).
    4. Use few colors as possible in tint. (Avoid using dominant background color, especially if it is black since it will be printed heavy, resulting in color shifts.)
    5. Mix tint from colors available in the background.
    Here's an example of that last point. Suppose there is a desire to have text tinted 30% cyan and 5% magenta with a black background. Make the background 30c, 5m, 100k. That way you eliminate the registration issue leaving only ink gain to deal with. Cope with this by using a larger, bolder, sans serif font.
  6. kingslod macrumors member


    Jul 8, 2002
    Portland, OR
    Current printing technology is pretty good

    Unless your screened tint is really light or your typeface is extremely thin, you should be OK... Say 30-60% of black or similar shade color and text no smaller than 6/7 points. Most printers today can get really great results with 4/color work. The screens look amazing and should not be a problem. But, as someone said above, just talk to your printer--they're usually happy to help.
  7. bigus7674 macrumors member

    Jan 4, 2005
    method of printing

    i agree with all of the above, as I have worked at both an offset as well as a flexography-based printing companies, which brings me to my point. There will be a major difference in the capabilities between an offset printer and a flexographic printer. Offset printing is used primarily for books, magazines, etc. and can print at high resolutions (150, sometimes 175 lpi) whereas a flexographic printer, which is used primarily for packaging, labels, bread wrappers, etc. can print at up to 150 lpi, but rather than using metal plates to lay down the ink, most use a rubberized material to lay down the ink.

    This creates a larger dot on press, as the pressure of the impression causes the rubber material to expand (squish) as it's laying down the ink.

    So, what you are producing, and the process in which it's being produced, is just as important as the colors and tints that you choose. If being produced in flexography, I would highly recommend finding a PMS (spot color) equivalent to the tint you would like to use and use that instead, otherwise your tint will be a bit rougher, and a bit darker due to the flexographic process.

    Hope that all made sense.

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