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Perfecting Your Digital Proofs

(August/September 2018) posted on Wed Oct 03, 2018

With the right techniques, you can produce digital proofs that even your most demanding customers will accept – and you can even automate the procedure.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Before I get into the details of this process, however, I want to put forth a serious question for you to consider: Does a specific client really need such a proof? In my opinion, this type of detailed proofing process should be reserved for customers who request it and are serious about minute details (and who also understand print quality and terminology). It should not be offered to every client. From my experience, when companies create policies that encourage customers to closely inspect prints, there is a noticeable increase in complaints and quality-related problems. Of course, we want customers to care about quality – that’s not the point. The reality is that the majority of clients are more interested in service and the overall appearance of the final product than looking at every tiny dot in a print. Don’t offer these proofs to customers who don’t require them.

The other important note is that the Photoshop procedures I’m going to describe to emulate a print aren’t a perfect proofing process. When you are using wet-on-wet color blends or semi-transparent inks to create additional colors, the software can only approximate the final piece. Depending on the opacity and complexity of the separations, it is always a good idea to include a disclaimer for any halftone proofs that you send. For example: “This digital proof is intended to simulate a printed process and will not be an exact match to the final print. Many variables such as monitor, display software, and video card calibrations can affect this simulation.”

Simulating Prints from Photoshop Separations

The following steps can be used to quickly create an action script in Photoshop to produce a digital halftone comp of a design. Note that your design must be separated into channels for this process to work, so you’ll need to complete your channels before attempting it. To simplify the process of creating an action script, it helps to compose your file in a way that can be rapidly converted and written without a lot of extra steps. There is no point in creating an action script that still requires a dozen steps to get a file ready for the shortcut. Your goal is to create a script that will work on a large majority of your files, saving you time and effort in the future.

Review and Prepare Your File 


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