The day today began with a more in depth look through Quark - watching someone work with it, it does seem to have some plugins and some features which help much more with design aspects, especially in terms of accuracy and layout, than are present in InDesign. Considering I already own InDesign CS6 though, I doubt I will look at switching. Yet...
Once I helped (observed) to finish off a design project for Huntsman's conference material for it's Indonesian branch of the company, I traveled about two miles down the road to Colprint who are a design and printing firm accommodating both small print runs, and massive industrial print runs.
They had 4 separate lithography presses, among digital printers, book binders, folders, finishers, and loads of other quite sturdy, quite fascinating and quite otherworldly equipment.
Almost luckily, I seemed to appear on the scene just as excrement and fans came into collision, and I was crowbarred into helping where I could. Thankfully, what experience I had in the past with traditional printing and digital publishing gear helped somewhat; I was able to expose, clean, reset and repeat the litho. exposing process, which was quite fun, and I felt a level of achievement when I was trusted to do it unsupervised so the floor manager could get on with other stuff. The room smelt of pickled onions for some unknown reason, I assume pickling vinegar has a chemical compound in it which is also found coating litho plates. Oh, and regardless of the acridity in the litho press room, that smelt amazing.
I was also around to see a short run perfect bound book fail it's quality check, and watch the manager go about the task of repaginating the whole book. I found paginating a 16, then 32 page book hard... He had to do a 136 page book - 140 including covers. I died a little inside.
Happily, I remembered to see about how my work could be printed there, and interestingly, according to the floor manager, they have excellent scanning equipment in house, so I am very tempted to try and book a second day there to see how they work, rumour is there's a £100k scanner there... *must... use...*
I learned a few things today, mostly about how much work goes into actually finishing a print job, once it's considered finished by chumps like me:
- The prints sent will need to have added bleeds and crops.
- Things that look pure black, 50% of the time, aren't pure black.
- Litho presses have trouble printing greens and blues.
- Things printed lithographically can look incredible.
- Industrial guillotines are scary looking things, but can cut 1000 pages at once.
- 'matlam' (Matte laminate) is something I will endeavor to use on anything in future. A digital/litho print has some inherent gloss, and the matlam combines really nicely with it.
- No day is an easy day.
- Expecting to only have to do one job a day is a fool's errand.
Oh yes! And more coffee sketches. Trying to build a back story into these strange forest guardian creatures, as they seem to be inhabiting my sketchbooks a lot in the morning.