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 history of the first printing press

I don’t understand that I never stumbled across this video before. It is an hour-long history of Gutenberg’s printing press, hosted by Stephen Fry.

Growth of online print published this graph showing the evolution of the online print market in Europe. The growth varies by country, with southern Europe trailing the more northern countries.

Online print in Europe - 2011 to 2019

In Late March 2021 PrintWeek put up a poll asking printers about their web-to-print plans. I find it odd that 17% of the respondents are only now looking into this.

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Print is doomed

70 years of IKEA catalogs

The IKEA catalog is the most distributed book in the world. In 2013 over 200 million copies were printed. Meanwhile, that copy count may have gone down somewhat, as the company is experimenting in some countries with replacing the annual edition by seasonal mini-catalogs.

You can now browse the Swedish editions of all the catalogs from 1950 till now on the IKEA museum site. Below are the covers from every past decade. The sizes are not proportional, as I wanted to cram all of them in a single image with identical gutters. Note the jump from black and white to color, with the layout and color quality improving dramatically in the ’80s. Erase the date on the 1990 edition and you might convince me it is this year’s ‘retro catalog’.

Ikea catalog covers from 1950 to 2020

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More postcards

I’m still fascinated by photochrome prints, so during the holidays I added a set of postcards of castles and palaces.

photochrom postcards

Rediscovering the Object Inspector

Adobe Acrobat object inspectorThe page on converting PDFs to grayscale needed an update, so I played around in Acrobat Pro a bit. At some point in time I needed to know the color space of images in my testfile. It was another reminder that I am getting a bit older. I knew there was some kind of inspector tool built into Acrobat Pro but I’d forgotten where it was hiding. If you’ve never used this: go to the Print Production tools, select the Output Preview module and in the window that pops up set the Preview: option to Object Inspector. When you then click on any object in a PDF, its properties are shown. For images that includes the color space, resolution, size, bit depth and compression algorithm. PDF files have no secrets for the object inspector.

Bigger and better

In 2011 I learned about photochrome prints and added dozens of examples of such prints to the site. In those days, image size was still crucial, so all images were 450 pixels wide with a filesize of around 35K. By today’s standards that is ridiculous so I am busy replacing all the images by versions that are 1000 pixels wide and 100K large. This time around, a second 1MB version is saved as well, to prepare for the internet of 2030. Enjoy!

Old postcard of Bruges
One of the pictures from the page on photochromes of Belgium

Browsing the World Digital Library

Got some free time on your hands due to the Corona pandemic? Head over to the World Digital Library, enter a topic or event that interests you and dive in books, magazines, pamphlets, pictures. movies or artifacts that cover the subject. Admittedly the number of clay tablets discussing the latest Apple iPhone SE might be limited.

The whitepaper workflow

I frequently use Wikipedia but always have my reservations about its accuracy. Case in point: recently I stumbled across the Wikipedia page about Prinergy, the Kodak prepress workflow. On 15 April 2020, this is how Wikipedia defines Prinery: ‘It is a client/server system that integrates Whitepaper creation, job proofing, imposition, and a raster image processor into one unified workflow.’

‘Whitepaper creation’? Seriously? In the page’s history, you see someone tried to replace this by ‘postscript/pdf’ but for some reason, that change did not make it in the current revision. ‘Whitepaper’ first made its appearance in 2014, so the incorrect definition has been there for six years now.

This reminds me of the time I volunteered to edit Wikipedia pages and added a sentence to the page about RIPS, stating that these are sometimes called renderers. The change got rejected because it was not considered valid. I provided links to Agfa and Heidelberg webpages talking about the renderer in their workflows. The main editor rejected this as proof, so I gave up on trying to contribute to Wikipedia. Don’t expect me to fix that amusing Prinergy entry any time soon.

August 2020 update: I just noticed the error got fixed. I’m curious if it will reappear in the future.

The 2020 reboot

During 2019 nothing much happened with this site but now it is back with a fresh new design. I also intend to once again add content on a regular basis. Watch this space!

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