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FLEXO Magazine : July 2013
What was once a very costly and time-consuming ordeal consisting of camera work, typesetting and art is now quick and cost-effective. By using the computer monitor as an electronic canvas and the mouse as a paintbrush, the designer can scale, crop or combine the images and backgrounds in any combination. Images and type matter can be twisted, stretched, turned and otherwise modified in minutes, compared with hours, perhaps days, using traditional methods. SKETCHES & CONCEPTS The designer may start with some simple thumbnail sketches, either drawn by hand or done on the computer (Im- age 1). For the first time, the design ideas are in visual form. Revisions and refinements are easily done at this stage to meet any change in design requirements. The designer will choose several of these thumbnail sketches to work up into comprehensive roughs. The roughs are reworked and refined, until one layout plan emerges that can be reviewed against the list of design requirements. As this work continues, many graphic decisions are made along with those regarding colors and techniques. The graphic plan is finally checked against specifications and other technical aspects. Once an initial sketch is approved, moving on to tighter color sketches or renderings can take many different forms. Tight color sketches, color renderings, 3D or flat, or complete flat color mechanicals can be what the client will prefer. Actual substrates can be used to produce mock-ups to give the client an idea of what the finished product will look and feel like. Actual colors are discussed, as well as possible printing techniques and special effects. Design concepts should be prepared with inks and color separations in mind and a concern for line, tints and/or half- tone areas. The converter’s equipment limitations also have to be considered. If these elements are incorporated early in design planning, valuable time is saved in interpretation. In addition, problems are reduced for the platemaker, ink personnel and press people. High quality proofing paper is used for the working layout. A rendering, or finished comp, is generally done on the actual material to be printed or a rea- sonable substitute to which the colors can be applied. How the rendering of the design comp is handled depends on the substrate and the proofing equipment to be used (Image 2). MANAGING EXPECTATIONS When it is time for the presentation, the computer allows the client to see the affect of his/her input quickly and clearly, without sending the artist back to the drawing board. In the case of our wine label, the client’s approval sim- ply tells the designer to save a final high-resolution file and deliver it to the printer. This branch of the computer system usually is at a printing facility. It does all the color separations, which require only a final review by the art director. The growth of this technology has been incredible and is sure to continue. It is important to remember that, while these tools spur the creative process and boost productivity, they cannot replace the human element. Indeed, people will always be the crucial investment for any design studio that wants to stay competitive. Editor’s Note: Flexographic Technical Association, Founda- tion of FTA and its Technical Education Services Team (TEST), with the support and commitment of an extensive, highly experienced cadre of industry volunteers, recently engaged in a far reaching and comprehensive update of FTA’s flagship textbook: Flexography: Principles & Practices. Version 6.0 was released in late April. This article is an excerpt from the publication’s design section. FP&P 6.0 features 600+ pages, 29 chapters, hundreds of vibrant illustrations, a detailed glossary and an extensive troubleshooting guide. Both print and Kindle editions are available for purchase. Visit www.flexography.org for details. Production Art for Flexography To avoid printing problems, the designer should have a reasonable working knowledge of flexography ’s production art requirements. Communication with the plant or production manager regarding the capabilities of the manufacturing equip- ment will help the designer develop designs specifically geared to the situation. Guidance from the prepress provider and the printer is important. Methods of producing the finished artwork, color sepa- ration, prepress proofing devices and any other art preparation data must be considered. The production artist’s job is to take the customer’s design and turn it into the final graphic file from which printing plates can be made. The finished graphic must fit the final package, container or product, with all type and illustrations properly positioned. The copy and other design elements must be capable of clean, crisp reproduction on the substrate used. In addition, it must maintain registration. Typography, contrasting color values, shapes, illustrations, photographs, brand names and descriptive subject matter are some of the similar elements included in all designs. The overall design should have the assurance that the parts are in proper visual order and relate to each other under a priority system. Elements should not compete with one another for top billing. An easy test of visual priority is to put yourself in the buyer ’s position and imagine what information you most want to see. Of course, these priorities will differ with each project. Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association Technical Education Services Team 3920 Veterans Memorial Hwy Ste 9 Bohemia NY 11716-1074 Phone: (631) 737-6020 Fax: (631) 737-6813 www.flexography.org FLEXOGRAPHYPrinciplesandPractices6.0 “Finally! A book that demystifies flexographic printing. Bound to be a best seller.” - Dr. Blade “An entertaining ride that touches on everything flexo, from Anilox to Zahn Cup” - Cal Ibration “A masterful compilation of the building blocks of flexography” - Anna Lox “Another fast-paced page turner by FTA that will keep you glued to the couch.” - C.M. Whykay Get a fresh perspective and a new understanding into the principles and practices that have made the flexographic process so successful. Newbies will benefit from content on: presses, ink, ink metering systems, and plate mounting. The more practiced flexographer will find modernized information on topics including: design, platemaking, process color and web inspection systems. And everyone will find use for the updated Flexographic Troubleshooting Guide for those pesky problems sure to arise. A perfect addition to your bookshelf...just be sure to place it within easy reach, you’re bound to be referencing it time and time again. paperback: FTA Member: $130.00 | List: $260.00 Kindle: $99.00 www.flexography.org/fpp 100% Updated. 30% expanded. 100% relevant. 40 FLEXO July 2013 www.flexography.org