Print Design: Find Your Match

When it comes to printing, there are many variables at play – paper, ink colors, one or two sides, sizes, and of course – the actual printing process.

How do you determine which printing method is right for you?

I am a print fanatic. I love to play with all kinds of papers to see how they react to different printing methods. It's super important as a designer to know how your design translates to print. A design that looks great on your computer screen doesn’t always print well. For example, some papers can't handle a lot of ink when printed digitally, but look great when offset. Build a strong relationship with your printer and ask them for advice when ‘spec’ing your next print project.

Let’s talk about the top 3 printing methods in Edmonton:

Digital Printing
A digital printer may sound hi-tech but it’s actually just a really good quality desktop printer. This method is really popular because the costs are low, there are no minimum quantities, no plates need to be made, and the turnaround time is quick! However, the downside is that you are usually limited to a maximum of an 11"x17" print area, and your paper weight can't exceed 100 lb. You are also limited to digitally approved papers - paper that the paper mill deems as digitally printable. That means no cotton fibres!

Read about the Digital Printing process here.


Offset Printing
If you get the chance to visit a large print shop, go and see their offset printer. These things are massive! You can literally walk on them. Unlike the digital printer, offset sheets are 28"x40". This allows you to print multiple pieces per sheet. And if you want to add any fancy varnishes or pantone colours to your printing, this is where you do it. Offset printing is perfect for large print runs. After a certain quantity, the cost per print becomes lower than a digital print. But you need to have that print volume to offset the higher cost of this printing method. 

Read about the Offset Printing process here.

Letterpress Printing
The look of letterpress printing cannot be replicated by anything else. Popular because of its tactile quality, the letterpress has become widely adored in Edmonton. Because each pass on the press uses just one ink, prints are kept to a maximum of 4 colours. There are 2 kinds of letterpress printing. You can use letterpress type (in all kinds of styles and sizes) to create your print OR you can create your artwork digitally and have plates made for each layer of colour. Remember that this is an old school print method and it is still done by hand which means you should expect imperfections in your print.   

Read about the Letterpress Printing process here.

I hope you learned a thing or two about the most popular printing methods. Let us know if you have any questions about print design by tweeting us!

About Nicole: 
Nicole's seven years of professional design experience includes managing a team of in-house designers, and overseeing the marketing efforts of one of the largest home builders in Edmonton. More recently, she has decided to take a break from the corporate world to build her own stationery business.