Thursday, 30 November 2017

How to make colour look wonderful in print...

Everyone wants their printing to look bright, and vibrant. 
But the problem is screens work in 3 colours, whereas printing is made up of 4. 
This difference changes everything. And can cause big problems.

I'll cover how to design your artwork with wonderful colour in this article, and look at ways to alter the finished print, using different paper stocks and finishes.

What's the difference between RGB and CMYK?
CMYK and RGB are fundamentally different.
CMYK (used in print) uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black (key) in layers to create a complete, full-colour image. RGB (used on screen) uses red, green and blue light to create digital images.
These are very different colour palettes. And while both can make up almost any colour, they do it a totally different way.
I've gone in-depth in this article if you're interested in the technical differences...

Simple ways to design with wonderful colour

  • Rule number one is to maintain your colourspace at all times. Your computer will attempt to interpret RGB in a CMYK colourspace (and vice-versa), but each time you do this you're changing the image. You'll find RGB images look washed out if you convert them to CMYK badly, and by pulling artwork in and out of different colour spaces you're effectively degrading the image. Your final print will end up looking atrocious. 
  • There are a thousand ways to make up any given colour, and with CMYK you need to remember each colour strand (C, M, Y and K) is a different ink being applied to the paper. CMYK colours are made up of a percentage of each ink (ie C=100% M=20% Y=39% K=80%). Making a colour with too high a percentage can cause problems with your printing. Most printers recommend your colours are as 'clean' as 230% max for colours, and 140% for blacks. 
  • It should go without saying that remembering the basics is pretty critical. But we get lots of orders supplied in RGB. Clearly, to achieve the best colour results in print, you need to design and supply your artwork in CMYK! 

How different paper stock affect colour in print

The paper you order your printing on makes a massive difference to how your colour will appear.
This is because ink sinks into the page at different rates with different stocks.

  • Uncoated paper allows the ink to sink into the paper, causing colours to look more muted and less vibrant than coated stocks. It's part of its charm and can be used effectively to create rustic, natural looking printing. 
  • Glossy stock is coated, allowing the ink to sit 'on' the page more. This creates more vibrant colours and vivid images. 
  • Silk stock is the middle of the road paper - it's coated, meaning ink doesn't absorb too fast but doesn't show colours as rich as glossy stocks do. 

How gloss, matt and soft-touch lamination changes colour...

Adding a laminated finish to your printing also changes the colour of your print. Lamination is a cellophane film applied to the outside of your printing.

  • Matt lamination dulls colours down slightly and makes the paper feel smooth and silky. 
  • Gloss lamination makes colours more vivid. If you're looking for vibrancy you can't get better than a nice gloss lamination. Think postcards and magazine covers...
  • Soft touch lamination dulls colours down in a similar way to matt lamination. It feels like a thicker lamination and has an almost velvety finish to it. 

Want more ideas? Check out our blog.

Monday, 27 November 2017

5 tips for designing fabulous business cards

Think all business cards are the same? Think again. Here's how to design fabulous business cards, that get noticed... and remembered. 

More and more people are replacing pen and paper with digital devices like iphones and tablets, making the humble business card a thing of the past... That is for those who don't embrace change, and focus on crafting an impactful, memorable design that stands out from the crowd.

Business cards have the potential to be a key marketing opportunity. A first impression, and memorably leave behind that potential customers can use to contact you, or find out more about your business / service.

No two businesses are the same, so why would a business card be? Sure, you can order cheap business cards online using a whizzy online designer, but the quality tends to be inferior, and the business card lacking the impact you and your business need.

With the move to a more paperless world, and online printers delivering poor quality results, there's an opportunity for those keen to accept the challenge; to stand out from the crowd, with a fabulous looking business card that leaves a lasting impression.

Think bright colours, expressive angles and smooth text conveying your key messaging. 

Don't forget, your business card should drive a prospective customer to take action; call your, or visit your website.

You can use these tips, to help you design a winning business card...

1) Remember the basics...

The best design in the world will look rubbish if it prints badly. Artwork your business card at 300dpi, in CMYK with 3mm bleed. Always leave a further 3-5mm from the page edge quiet to avoid anything looking like it's falling off the edge of the page. And align elements properly - be consistent with spacing and alignment. Check out our 'quick guide to getting artwork ready for print' post for in depth pointers.

2) Include the important details...

Make sure you remember to include all the details you need on the card!! It sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed by the number of reprints we see where customers have forgotten key information they wanted to include.

3) You're paying for full colour, so use it...

While 'white space' has its place in design, don't forget to use colour on your business cards. With most printers you're paying for full colour as standard, so make the most of it, by including coloured, solid or gradient backgrounds.

4) Check the printers requirements...

Another obvious pointer, but don't forget to check your printers requirements before artworking your business cards. Most printers need 3mm bleed, but some need 5mm. Get this wrong and your design will look rubbish.

5) Choose a nice paper and finish...

Once you're happy with your design, make sure you carefully consider the type of card you're going to have your business cards printed on. Go for something thick, and add a nice finish like matt or soft touch lamination to make your business cards stand out. Check our 'choosing the right thickness business card' article for more pointers on the available finishes.


Want more ideas? Check out our 'Business Card Guide' here.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

How thick should a business card be?

If you're new to ordering printing, there'll come a time when things get confusing.

Knowing your stock from your finish, your gsm from your cmyk or your bleed from your crop markings can be something of a minefield.

Most people either use their local printer or order online (hoping everything will turn out ok!). But as business cards leave a lasting impression on you or your business, it's pretty important to tailor that impression to the right image!

In this post, we'll tell you everything you need to know about the different thicknesses business cards come in (and a whole lot more) to help you make the right choice, for you! 

How is business card thickness measured?
In the UK, we measure paper thickness is GSM (grams per square meter). The higher the GSM, the thicker the paper. GSM varies from around 80gsm (used for lightweight letterheads etc) right up to around 450gsm (used for business cards) and sometimes as high as 600gsm.

What thickness business cards are available?
Most printers run business cards on card stock that's between 350gsm and 450gsm. 350gsm or thereabouts tends to be used for cheaper business cards, whilst a thicker 400gsm - 450gsm is used for the more luxury business card ranges. Some printers offer 600gsm, and a few may offer as low as 300gsm. It goes without saying you get what you pay for - thinned business cards will be more economical price-wise, whereas your thicker 450gsm+ will cost [often] significantly more.

Which thickness business card is right for me?
The million dollar question! If your business gets through masses of business cards (maybe they double up as appointment, receipt or taxi cards), or if your business isn't trying to sell a luxury service then an economy business card around 350gsm will be perfect.
If on the other hand you're rarely using business cards, your business offers a luxury product or service, or you're trying to impress, then a 400gsm+ business card will make a huge difference. Don't forget to explore options for adding even more luxury by laminating it with soft touch or matt coating.

What paper stock should my business card be printed on?
Business cards come in either coated, or uncoated stocks. Coated stocks tend to be silk (rarely gloss), whereas uncoated business cards have a pulpy feel, and are often used for eco businesses, as they feel more natural in the hand. You'll find that silk business cards are cheaper, and printed faster. You'll also find that colours look more vibrant on coated business cards as the ink doesn't absorb in to the card as much as it does with uncoated stocks.

How should my business card be finished?
There's a big range of 'finishes' for business cards. The common ones are gloss laminate, matt laminate and velvet laminate (also called 'soft touch'). You certainly don't have to add a lamination to your business cards, and it's unusual (and a bit weird) to laminate uncoated business cards.

Here's a quick guide to how the business cards will feel with different laminations:

GLOSS: Gloss laminated business cards feel rather like a magazine cover. They're 'gloopy' and feel rich to touch. Gloss lam is a rarer choice for business cards - they went through a phase recently and become unpopular.
MATT: Matt laminated business cards are an absolute standard used by businesses all over the country. They feel silky smooth to touch, though colours look slightly muted under the laminate.
VELVET: Velvet laminated business cards (also called soft touch) feel, as the name suggests, 'velvety' to touch. They're rarer than matt laminated cards, though dull the colours in a similar way. They also show up finger marks more than matt laminated cards - if you're printing a darker solid background you might not like the way they mark - especially if you have oily fingers!

Our favourite business card...
For us 400gsm matt laminated business cards go all the way. They combine a higher end feel with reasonable pricing, and make us look great (we think). Print with us and prices start at just £30 for 250, rising to £70 for 1000 delivered.