Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Top 15 Common PDF Errors

Friday, November 23rd, 2018


In a recent survey about PDF files in the graphic arts industry, 1100 respondents said the top 15 issues they ran into when working with PDF’s from clients were:

  1. Low Image Resolution
    Low image resolution leads to a loss of sharpness. When the resolution is low images are ‘pixelated’ showing a sawtooth effect. The standard resolution for print is 300 DPI and resolution for images on the internet is 72 DPI. Images downloaded from the internet and added to art for print will print with low resolution and should be avoided.
  2. Use of incorrect or unwanted color spaces
    When sending a file to print, your printer will request CMYK files as any PDF file containing RGB will be incorrect and unusable for print. RGB is the color profile for screens and monitors, not paper.
  3. Bleed is missing
    Unless bleed is added to the document a thin white line may appear along the trimmed edge of your finished piece, bleed is used to bring your documents art edge to edge.
  4. Fonts are not embedded in the PDF
    This can lead to the text being printed with a wrong typeface. When fonts aren’t embedded, the text will change to a default font which can cause the spacing and font size issues.
  5. There are problems with transparency
    Design applications split up a page into small square areas, called atomic zones. The effect of transparency is then calculated for each separate atomic zone. The stitch between atomic zones can sometimes show up on-screen (and even in output) as thin white lines. A file can also contain transparent objects with different color spaces. For instance, adding a drop shadow to a spot color element that sits on top of a CMYK background (or vice versa) is an example of a design that challenges workflow and creates a problem with transparency.
  6. The PDF file contains an incorrect number of spot colors
    Printers who ask for pure CMYK files sometimes get PDF files with spot colors in them. When spot colors are expected, the same color might appear multiple times in a document but each time with a different name.
  7. There is an issue with overprint
    The inappropriate use of overprint is an issue by itself. Issues with overprint can cause page elements to disappear or change color. Small text can become difficult or impossible to read. Overprint is when one color object overlaps another on the printed piece, this is normally used for special effects within the design.
  8. Total ink coverage is too high
    This can cause issues on press because the ink can’t dry properly. This can lead to set-off where the ink of a still wet area rubs off on whatever is stacked on top of it. Too much ink can also lead to muddy browns in neutral areas.
  9. Incorrect ICC (In Color Management) profiles are used
    The use of incorrect profiles can lead to printing the incorrect colors of the finished piece.
  10. The dimensions of the PDF do not match the requested size
    When sending in PDF files to print they should be to size. For instance, if you are printing a 4”x 5” postcard the PDF file should reflect that size plus bleeds. Print ready artwork should always be the size you want to print to avoid errors when printing.
  11. There are issues with flattened transparency
    Flattening can cause thin white lines to appear, shifts in color or make text appear fat. Flattening can also cause white rectangles to appear in graphic elements such as artwork or images. Flattening divides transparent artwork into vector-based areas and rasterized areas.
  12. Colors are not reproduced correctly
    Most pure blue colors are out of gamut for CMYK printers. In other words, the color cannot be accurately reproduced. The same is true for many RGB colors such a pure bright green. It is a good rule of thumb to check these prior to attempting to print or create a PDF for workflow that requires CMYK printing, to view use the Proof Colors function. You’ll see a rendition of what content will look like in the CMYK color space. This doesn’t mean you export RGB as CMYK, but rather this is what will render when printed.
  13. The output intent is missing or wrong
    An example of this is the use of US-specific output intent such as SWOP (Specifications for Web Offset Publications) for files printed in Europe. This can lead to incorrect color separations when printing.
  14. The conversion of spot colors to CMYK differs from the expected result
    When converting any color to CMYK the colors will be slightly off. Especially spot colors which are pre-mixed PMS colors and require the use of one of the press units to be printed in combination with CMYK printing. It is highly advised to avoid converting these colors for printing.
  15. Technical elements are not defined properly
    A document may need to contain data for die cutting, embossing, spot varnishing or other finishing services. A die line should be defined as a spot color and named ‘dieline’ as well as being set to overprint. If a die line is not in the file and is required, it will need to be add in prepress or a new PDF file must be supplied.

Understanding and knowing about these 15 common errors should make outputting files for print more manageable. For more information on Print ready PDF files contact and we would be happy to answer any questions you might have.

Creative Printing: Ferrari

Friday, October 12th, 2018

To celebrate Ferraris creation in 1947, Ferrari has come out with a retrospective book that is just as exclusive as its cars. The print run for this epic book is limited to 1,947 copies and they cost upwards to $30,000. Of the 1,947, 250 of them are a limited edition that come with a bookstand that replicates the shapes of their 12 cylinder engine. The remaining 1,697 Collector’s edition copies, going for $6,000 each, will be offered with just the aluminum case instead.

The hefty coffee-table book is 514 pages and the size is 12.7in by 17 inches. The book also features a hand-stitched minimalistic cover design with the Ferrari horse in silver on top of the racing red background. All copies are signed by Piero Ferrari, the company’s vice chairman and the only living son of Ferraris founder Enzo Ferrari. The 250 limited edition copies carry the signatures of John Elkann, Ferrari’s current chairman, and the late Sergio Marchionne.

The book was edited by Pino Allievi, a Ferrari historian who worked with Enzo Ferrari on the 1998 book “Ferrari Racconta,”. This book has hundreds of unseen Ferrari photographs, drawings and sketches from the archives and private collections from around the world, as well as original documents of famed Ferrari drivers. This book is a great example of Ferrari’s product branding and homage to excellence. Ferrari did an exquisite job from product design, packaging and presentation. Without a doubt this book embodies Ferrari in every single luxurious detail even down to the price tag. Ferrari’s attention to detail and craftsmanship really shine in this collectible piece that looks as if it is ready to hit the race track.

The upcoming book, titled simply “Ferrari,” will be published in October of this year.

Below are some images from the book:

Typography: The Best & Worst Fonts For Printing

Friday, June 8th, 2018




Design for print doesn’t have to be a challenge. When designing your piece the design and the content are usually the first thing we consider. Then we typically look at color palettes and images. Once the design elements are in place the last part of the design (often overlooked) is the type of font to use. When it comes to creating printed marketing materials, the type of font that we use is often one of the last things on our mind but it can be the most important piece of the design puzzle. The typeface for your piece should fit with the overall piece you are designing while reflecting the brand. The primary goal is to ensure that the text is smooth, flowing, and pleasant to read. Good typefaces are legible and have good readability. Legibility refers to clarity; it’s how readily one letter can be distinguished from all others. Readability refers to how letters interact to compose words, sentences, and paragraphs. If your customers can’t easily read the leaflet, flyer, brochure, poster or printed piece your message is instantly lost. To help give you an idea of fonts that work well in print, here is a list of three of the best and worst fonts for printing.












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What is Variable Data Printing (VDP)?

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Product Review: Sappi – Act Now!

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018



Yesterday I received a package in the mail from Sappi. It’s not too often that something arrives in the office with an announcement of Attn: Donna Moulton. I quickly opened it and found a brilliantly designed pull tab package on the inside. Here is a little background on Sappi to get you up to speed: Sappi is a leading global producer of dissolving wood pulp, specialties and packaging papers, printing and writing papers and biomaterials. Essentially, they make beautiful paper stocks to fulfill all your printing needs. Upon further investigation of the package, I realized that it is an add-on to support their article on Direct Mail in a Digital Age

The Sappi article forecasted that digital advertising will only account for 46% of all advertising. It also noted that direct mail has the highest rate of success. This is a statement I am sure you have read in more than one of my blog posts on direct mail but it is true! Direct mail leaves more of an impression on the recipient receiving it than that of digital advertising clutter.

Inside the package itself, there is a book titled Act Now! A Better Response To Direct Mail. Inside there are 5 case studies. The one that stood out to me the most was Style & Error, Style Case Studies & Protocol.

  • This case study talked about making sure your format fits your overall message. The study describes various types of printing methods (Digital, Web Offset, Sheet-fed, Off-Line) There are even samples (folded and diecut) in the book.
  • They also provide a chart of print techniques and finishes that shows which techniques work well with each method of printing.

Ex: If you were looking to print a direct mailing piece digitally you would have to keep in mind that you cannot print with metallic inks and the finished piece cannot be UV coated. **This chart is extremely helpful to keep close at hand when designing for print.

  • The package also included a few direct mailing samples from a few companies that were mentioned in each of the case studies along with bound samples in the Act Now! Book.

For presentation, I give this Sappi case study pack a 4 out of 5 stars (I may be a little biased as I do really like the way that Sappi packages and designs their media kits). I would have given the package design a 10 but it was a little roughed up and the pull tab opening was a little confusing at first, I didn’t want to tear apart the very well put together package.

As far as the information provided about direct mail marketing and design I give Sappi 5 stars. There is a wealth of information within the pages of the Act Now! book that every direct mail marketer should keep close by.

For more information on how premier can help you with your next direct mailing campaign and to receive a copy of the same brilliantly put together package please email us at:

Donna Moulton is the Sales & Marketing Associate at Premier Graphics. A designer at heart, she uses her design skills to develop creative content, in-house marketing materials and client design work. In her role, she manages all aspects of marketing and advertising, from website updates, blog content and Premier events.

Designing Art For Print

Friday, December 1st, 2017


In our last blog post, we talked about managing color for print. To build on that we’ve added below a few good design practices to get into the habit of. From choosing the best design program to saving files these tips will help make sending your finished files to your printer a breeze. Happy designing!

  1. Start with the best art possible

Even though there have been advances in design programs and software what you put in is what you will get out. When designing you still need to be aware that the better image quality of the images you use the better print quality the printer will be able to achieve. Also, remember that every time you edit an image there is a loss of the image quality. You also cannot improve the quality of a low-resolution image.

  1. Work in the correct program


Another good habit is to work in the correct program for your design project. Illustrator is used for vector art such as creating logos, packaging, posters and single page layouts. Photoshop is best used for photo manipulation, color-correcting, and resizing scanned or imported images and flat art. InDesign or QuarkXPress are multi-page layout programs that are used for creating magazine and book spreads.

Donna’s Pro Tip:

Naming layers – If your file has several layers, identify and label each layer– e.g., “printing notes”, “text”, “images”, “Die Lines”, etc so they can be found quickly. 

  1. Keep track of your colors









When designing your programs give you an infinite number of color choices. As you test out different color swatches it is a good practice to delete the swatches that you do not use in your document before you preflight or package your files for your printer. Doing this will eliminate color errors down the road when your project enters into production.

Donna’s Pro Tip:

RGB vs CMYK –  When creating a file for print always make sure to set your color space to CMYK when you start a new file.

  1. How to Build and Save files














When designing a new project always set the size to the finished size you are looking to send to print. A piece that is 8.5x 11 should be built as an 8.5×11 document. Spreads that are for example 17×11 should be built as single pages that are built as two 8.5×11’s. Also before preflighting or packaging files make sure there is a 1/8th inch bleed and crop marks where appropriate on your documents.

For more information contact us at

-Written by Donna Moulton

Managing Color For Print

Friday, November 17th, 2017














When designing for print it is imperative that your color libraries are up to date. Here are some steps you can take with your printer and creative department to verify you have the most recent updated color profiles.

  • Use a printed proof. With a color proof, the customer can check for changes in color. You will see what your color palette looks like in print and what colors you may need to change. This step is crucial for verifying if the color palettes look accurate because monitors do not display every color the same way that a printer can and vice versa.
  • It is always a good practice to keep your monitor and office printers calibrated. Ideally, calibration should be performed once a month and preferably every two weeks. There is monitor profiling software available on the market with affordable pricing.
  • It’s a good rule of thumb to remember that every digital device has its own color gamut with a limited range of colors. Even devices of the same make can have different gamuts. Also keep in mind that the RGB gamuts are larger than that of CMYK, so colors you can see on a monitor won’t always transfer over to print as the colors are not achievable with CMYK.










  • A large contributor that can affect the way color is perceived is the medium that the ink is printed on. The quality, weight, and finish of paper affects the way ink can adhere to it. For instance, if you print the same PMS tone on coated stock and uncoated stock the two swatches will look close but not exact, the reason for this is that uncoated sheet allows more ink to be absorbed into the paper because it is more absorbent than its coated counterpart.









To verify you are up to date with the latest PMS color profiles consider following the below link to the PMS Color Manager software application. Be aware that these libraries do not update on their own, I have also provided a helpful link that explains how to get the latest updated profiles:

Pantone Color Manager:

Pantone color manager:

Also, check out this link to xrite to see how well you can distinguish between different hues:

For more information contact us at

Print By Design 4 Must Knows: Part 2

Wednesday, June 21st, 2017
  • Know your Blacks – When designing for print keep in mind that the default black in Photoshop looks great for print but when you look at the CMYK values that make up that color you will find 75% cyan, 68% magenta, 67% yellow, and 90% black which equals 300% total coverage. This is a lot of ink to put on paper. As mentioned before when you use too much ink on paper you will end up with set-off (when the ink remains wet and transfers from one sheet to another) Instead you should be manually setting your black values. Try using a rich black of 50,40,40,100. This is a popular choice among designers, or you can try for a crisp black that many designers use for text 0,0,0,100. Both options will still give you great coverage without heavily soaking the paper stock.

  • Resolution on a computer screen- The resolution only alters how large your image physically looks on screen, where the print resolution determines how sharp and crisp your designs will appear when printed. 72ppi is the usual figure for web images, but in print 300ppi is the standard. The more dots or pixels you can put in every inch the more detail the image will retain when the image is printed with ink. You’re going to need large images to fill documents at 300ppi. Random images from the web are not going to work because they will be low resolution. You can’t scale up a design’s resolution. Make sure that you set the document size correctly to avoid having to start over.

For more information contact us at

Print By Design 4 Must Knows: Part 1

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Designing for print can be a bit overwhelming. If you have only been designing for the web, these tips will help you on your way to learning the print side.

1.) Bleeds – This is one of the most important tips for designing for print. Bleeds are essential when trimming printed pieces to the correct finished size. When setting bleeds for your new document you will find the bleed options right in the new document dialog box of your design program. Typically, a bleed of .25in is the standard but you can even use a bleed of .125in. Also the only time you won’t need a bleed is if the document has nothing printed on the sides (example: a white border)


2.) CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow & black (key)) is a subtractive color system where inks are mixed to create a range of different hues, much like mixing paint. The more you use the darker the colors get. Failing to select the CMYK color made when starting your new document will default to RGB (Red, Green, Blue) which will show colors that are brighter but unachievable with ink. You must keep in mind that colors that use large amounts of cyan, magenta, yellow and black will quickly become oversaturated and any total values containing over 280% coverage may result in ugly muddy colors and set-off (when the ink remains wet and transfers from one sheet to another). Also, don’t forget that design applications will show vibrant color fine on screen, but in reality prints always appear darker than your original design.

Stay tuned for tips 3 and 4 next week and for more information contact us at

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