The site for prepress & print devotees

Prepressure covers design techniques, PDF, PostScript, fonts, JDF and numerous other prepress topics that have to do with printed communication and graphic arts.

The poll: which version of Acrobat?

I don’t think I am the only one who upgraded to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Pro, ending up hating the user interface of Acrobat DC. The first releases of Acrobat Professional were geared towards graphic arts professionals, with an interface that was plugin-friendly and somewhat in line with other Adobe applications. The DC version seems to target novice users or office workers instead. It is a powerful tool that desperately tries to look easy to use and in the process becomes an exercise in frustration. That doesn’t seem to hurt the adoption rate of this Fischer-Price edition, though. The poll to the right asks which version visitors use. If you haven’t done so already, please vote. If you also hate Acrobat DC, then make some noise on the Adobe forums, preferably in this thread.

Prepress Pete is tweeting

Friday flashback: using Comic Sans in Photoshop 3.0 for the labels of my ZIP disks –
Comic Sans

PDF, what is it FOR?

Computerphile is one of my favorite YouTube channels, especially when printing and prepress related topics are covered. The video below has some nice PDF-related anecdotes in it but also discusses why the file format was developed in the first place.

Prepress Pete is tweeting

Friday flashback: Adobe kills FreeHand & the Scots get a fancy banknote –
Scotland 50 pound note

PDF 2.0

This summer the PDF 2.0 specifications will be released. For a standard that has been in the works for eight years, the list of new features that are relevant for prepress operators is fairly limited. Here is a short overview:

  • Each page in a PDF 2.0 file can have a separate output intent. That can, for example, be practical if a single PDF contains all the pages of a magazine for which the cover will be printed on a sheetfed offset press on glossy stock and the inner pages on a different press on matte paper. It is also handy when you merge two PDF files that each have a different output intent. With PDF 2.0 all the pages can keep their original output intent.
  • There is more freedom to define the halftones that have to be used for screening the entire page or certain page elements. This can be handy in processes that make use of special types of custom screening, such as flexo or gravure printing.
  • Transparency will be handled more consistently, especially when combining multiple PDF files with different output intents on a single press sheet. The more explicit way in which transparency handling is defined in the PDF 2.0 specifications should lead to better consistency across vendors: the output from the RIP of vendor A should match that of the workflow of vendor B.
  • Tagged PDF is a technology that has been part of the PDF specifications since version 1.5. It allows applications to better define the structure of the data such as the text flow. In PDF 2.0 a lot of work has been put in extending the Tagged PDF specifications. This may help with editing PDF 2.0 files since editing tools can use the structural data for modifying the PDF content.
  • Spot colors can be specified using spectral data. This is done using the CxF/X-4 standard and it should lead to more accurate proofs, especially when spot colors are printed on top of other page content.
  • A PDF 2.0 file can contain information about the order in which inks will be applied during the printing process. The ink order laydown data can help improve proofing accuracy.
  • PDF 2.0 files can contain more information on how an application or device should process the files, including control over black point compensation. In most workflows, however, it is the workflow software itself that takes care of job ticketing.
  • If you are dealing with confidential information, it can be useful to know that PDF 2.0 adds support for secure AES-256-bit encryption.
  • There are additional 3D capabilities, such as embedding 3D measurements or cross-section data. This can be useful in packaging or point-of-sale applications.
  • PDF 2.0 will form the basis for the upcoming PDF/x-6 standard.

Keep in mind that specifications are just a starting point. It will take software vendors at least another year before applications , RIPs and workflows properly support the standard. Once the tools exist, users will have to go through a learning curve to make use of the new functions.

There are a few resources on the web that provide more information on PDF 2.0. I like the series of articles done by Martin Bailey on the Global Graphics blog. pdfLib published a highly technical 4-page overview. A few of the specs get discussed in this What-They-Think interview with Mark Lewiecki, Senior Product Manager at Adobe.

Discussing PDF 2.0 with Adobe

One team does it all

The previous poll asked visitors who processes data for offset and digital printing. Is it a single person or team, or do the digital presses have their own dedicated prepress operators? The disadvantage of polls is that they don’t leave any room for nuance. The volume of work that gets printed has a big impact on the way prepress is organized. For larger digital presses or groups of them it makes sense to have people in charge of just keeping the machines running, without much involvement in job setup.

Who processes data for offset and digital printing?

  • The same prepress operators handle both (44%, 149 Votes)
  • Separate operators for offset and digital (35%, 117 Votes)
  • Not applicable for us (22%, 73 Votes)

Total Voters: 339

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Emoji and print

You may find them ridiculous but since emoji characters are part of the Unicode standard, fonts increasingly support these icons. I was curious how many of the thousands of icons somehow relate to the printing industry. There is obviously a printer icon but also a nice range of print products. Stationery, newspapers, books, currency or maps: they are all there. Below you see the Apple version.

print products icons

I also looked for icons that depict the trade. At first, I could not find any but then it hit me: they are hidden in plain sight! The committee that decides on these emojis did take our business serious and they provided emojis for both file delivery and prepress!

prepress icon

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New terms in the dictionary

Acid-free paper – Paper containing no acidity or acid producing chemicals. Acid-free paper degrades less over time than acidic papers.
– Abbreviation for Direct To Garment, the process of printing directly on T-shirts and other clothing. This is typically done using inkjet technology.
Scratch off printing
– The process of applying a foil to specific areas of a document. The foil can be removed with the edge of a coin or a fingernail to reveal the information printed beneath it. The process is often used on giveaway and contest printed materials, such as lottery tickets.
Short grain web press – A web press that uses printing plates whose long dimension is along the cylinders.

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19 February 2017

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