Graphic designers often have a one track mind—and that track is to make art. They know exactly how to combine colors, typography, and imagery to create a beautiful and effective piece. There’s lot of work that goes into being a good designer, but there’s more to it than just learning how to work with visual elements.
If you want to make a truly great design, you’ve got to learn what it takes to move your work off the screen and into production—starting with proper printing tactics.
Printing graphic designs is an in-depth process that involves lots of skill and attention to detail—so who better to teach you about it than a company that both creates and prints visual designs? Company Folders has been helping clients create amazing print designs for more than a decade. Now, they’re revealing the four types of printing they use and why:
PMS stands for Pantone Matching System, which is a color creation system that lets printers use pre-mixed inks to match your exact brand colors. PMS printing is universal; colors will turn out the same with any printer.
PMS inks do have a downfall. Because they’re pre-mixed, they aren’t great at recreating full-color photos. Their limited spectrum makes it hard for them to capture all the subtle changes in color. If you want to print a photo, you’ll either need to make it black and white or use the next method on this list.
Four Color Process Printing
Four color process printing is also known as CMYK. The initials stand for the four colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key (which is just a fancy way of saying black). Combining these inks creates an infinite color spectrum, so you can pull off awesome photographic designs using this method.
Since these inks are mixed on-site at the time of printing, they aren’t uniform like PMS inks. Colors may vary from one printer to another, and while you can get pretty close, you won’t be able to exactly match your brand colors. CMYK inks also don’t come in metallic or neon options—which you can get with PMS inks.
You can also achieve metallic colors with foil stamping, which heat seals a thin layer of colorful foil onto the design. One of its biggest perks is that foil stays the same color regardless of the background it’s on, whereas inks can look washed out if printed on dark paper stock.
The colors of foil available to you will remain the same as long as you stay with the same printer (they keep certain colors in stock at all times). But if you switch printers, there’s a good chance they will offer different colors or even different types of foil.
Embossing & Debossing
These last techniques are paired together because they use the exact same process—yet create totally opposite effects. Embossing alters the paper stock, so your design is raised above the surface. Debossing indents your design into the stock. Both methods offer a unique 3D look that gives your design texture.
Of course, embossing and debossing have their limits. Super intricate designs might lose some of the details in the indentation, and unless you add ink or foil, your design will be the same color as the stock you chose. You also have to be careful where you place them, since the indent will show through onto the other side of the stock.
What Else Do You Need to Know?
Understanding these basic types of printing will help you choose the one that works best with your design, but you’re not done yet. You still need to learn more about printing—such as how to choose the most effective paper for your printing style. Once you’ve armed yourself with this knowledge, you’ll be all set to create amazing print designs every time.