Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Print is finite meaning it can never change once it has been printed, whereas web is dynamic and it can be changed. - Simon Harrison

In today's session, in groups we were asked to come up with a list of ideas explaining what 'design for print' is. Here is the collaborative list:

1. You have to consider the printing process whilst designing for print. Different processes have different limitations. 
2. Print has the possibility of mass production depending of process. 
3. Format can differ greatly: posters, leaflets, postcards, zines, stationary, billboards etc. 
4. The format also drastically changes the scale. Which also needs to be carefully considered throughout the design process. 
5. What makes something printing? Is it when ink is involved or can it be embossing information into things or imprinting. 
6. Design for print is a design process which carefully considers the limitations and possibilities of the printing processes and the chosen stock.
7. Communicating a message in a  physical way via a printing process.
8. Graphic Design but specifically for the printed medium.
9. Digital information can change, but printed information is stationary and permanent. It cannot be changed once printed. 

After this initial task, we were asked to come up with another list of different print processes:

1. Foiling
2. Screen Printing
3. Spot Varnish
4. Lithograph
5. Lino
6. Letterpress
7. Mono-Printing
8. Collograph
9. Laser Printing
10. Inkjet Printing
11. Block Printing
12. Embossing
13. Debossing
14. Vinyl Cut
15. Etching
16. Laser Cutting
17. 3D Printing

We were asked to look into several of the processes to start initial research:

Laser Cutting:

It can be debated whether laser cutting can be classed as a print process due to no ink pigment being involved, and actually removes stock opposed to adding to it.

Laser cutting works by directing the output of a high-power laser, by computer, at the material to be cut. The material then either melts, burns, vaporizes away, or is blown away by a jet of gas.

It is used industrially, but is starting to become more common in schools, universities and small businesses. 


Embossing and debossing are the processes of creating either raised or recessed relief images and designs in paper and other materials. An embossed pattern is raised against the background, while a debossed pattern is sunken into the surface of the material (but might protrude somewhat on the reverse, back side). It is often used alongside foil stamping. (See below - Finishes) It requires two dies, one that is recessed and one that is raised. The dies fit into each other so that when the paper is pressed between them, the raised die forces the stock into the recessed die and creates the embossed impression.




Lithography is a print process originally created around the idea that oil and water do not mix.  It was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works. Originally ink was placed onto etched stone to print, however now printing plates are used, and specific colours can be chosen for each plate, or the standard print CMYK can be used. Generally lithographs have 4 printing plates.

Below is an image showing how lithography can produce prints in CMYK.

Considerations for design for print can be summarised as follows:


From this list, I am to research into each one, noting 2 different examples of each category.


Taking format into account when planning a piece of design is fundamental to success. Different formats of work, such as billboards, bus posters, business cards, leaflets, magazines, newspaper, zines, etc all have different scales which the designers work within, which can greatly alter the design.  Format can also affect which software and print abilities and limitations there are to consider when designing.

The format here would of been considered carefully when looking at typography, readability and legibility due to the small scale of the stickers. However the format wouldn't necessarily affect the print process selected such as digital print processes.

Several different formats are shown above, all of which would of needed careful consideration when designing for print. The different formats affect the scale of design, as seen on the business cards and gift bag and print processes, as seen on the tote bags which would have been screen printed. 


Depending on the colour you are intending to print with, the processes can be limited to their different abilities when it comes to printing inks. For example, if you are wanting to print with fluorescent or metallic inks, these can be mixed using the Pantone swatch system, and could be used for screen printing or you can use fluorescent inks in mass print runs when printed professionally using different printing plates which processes such as Lithography.

Here are examples of colour being used in different print processes. At the top is an example of screen printing with fluorescent inks and letter press shown below with a pre mixed ink.

Above is an example of mass produced newspapers with black ink only being used, with tints and shades opposed to other colour. This is something that would also reduce print costs, by reducing the amount of printing plates required.


The type of production necessary depends on the design task at hand. Production can either be a small print run, mass production, a one off piece or a limited edition of prints. Each type affects the print costs and which processes can be used efficiently and effectively. For example, a large run of screen prints can be very cheap, compared to getting a one off publication printed and bound.

Here using mass production for business cards have been printed, which can be relatively cheap and workable with different digital printing processes.

Above you can see a more complicated print production, combining screen printing and methods of laser printing. Due to a small print run this would of been fairly expensive to produce and would of been better in mass production to be more efficient.


There are several processes which can be chosen from when it comes to print. However this depends on the work being produced, the print run, and the budget from the client. 

Above are examples of block printing, a method which is very creative and is cheap and effective for small or big print runs. Any colour can be used to print with.

Laser Printing is a xerographic printing process.

"Laser printer speed can vary widely, and depends on many factors, including the graphic intensity of the job being processed. The fastest models can print over 200 monochrome pages per minute (12,000 pages per hour). The fastest color laser printers can print over 100 pages per minute (6000 pages per hour). Very high-speed laser printers are used for mass mailings of personalized documents, such as credit card or utility bills, and are competing with lithography in some commercial applications." /Laser_printing


Finishing is anything which is done after the print process is complete, such as binding, laminating, foiling and spot varnishing amongst many more. 

Spot varnishing is used to highlight images with matt or gloss varnish against unvarnished areas, which leads to an enhanced visual impression. Spot varnishing can be done on an IR or UV basis.

Foil stamping, typically a commercial print process, is the application of pigment or metallic foil, often gold or silver , but can also be various patterns or what is known as pastel foil which is a flat opaque color or white special film-backed material, to paper where a heated die is stamped onto the foil, making it adhere to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper. Foil stamping can be combined with embossing to create a more striking 3D image.


The stock chosen can differ drastically depending on budget, design, print processes, scale and production. An appropriate stock is to be carefully considered.

For example for standard postal letters, a 90gsm white stock is used due to its cheapness and abilities with mass production to reduce costs.

 Here, a completely different form of stock has been used to print the logo onto, which requires careful design consideration. Normally the stock can take most types of print, where as here, the stock defines which print process is used. This is the same for plastics, glass, etc.

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