Thursday, 28 February 2008


Listed here with the most expensive and accurate at the top.

1. Traditionally, special one-off 'Machine-proofs' or 'Wet proofs' are provided from the final plates. These will look identical to the final printed job, but are expensive (approx £30 - £40 per colour) and author's corrections are charged extra - So this will mean making new plates.

2. A common compromise for four colour process work is 'cromalin' or 'matchprint' proofs. These are produced from the final films, so they are a guarantee that the content is accurate. They are also a very accurate guide for the weight of type and quite a good guide for strength of tint and colours, though the glossy finish will make colours look brighter than the final result (unless you are printing on card and adding a gloss varnish). Blacks appear very dense, and it can be a shock to see your finished print with dark grey where the black should be - designers should where possible put a tint of cyan behind the black to avoid this. Ask your printer what other inconsistencies you should be looking out for.

3. Dye Sub/Inkjet proofs - eg Scitex Iris Inkjet, Rainbow or Epson give a good idea of final colours, though some are not accurate on small type. Because these proofs can be produced direct from computer generated A/W without outputting films, it is much cheaper to make corrections than with cromalin proofs. They do not, however, guarantee that all your copy will be there on your final printed brochure, and the colour accuracy is dependent on the way the printer's computer has been set up. Dye Sub,laser and inkjet proofs have the added advantage that they are on thin enough paper to be folded to give a realistic dummy of the final brochure.

4. Colour laser proofs can also give some idea of the finished result, but again do not guarantee accuracy of colour or copy. Type can appear bolder than the finished print.

5. PDFproofs using Adobe Acrobat software are becoming the most common way of designer's showing colour visuals before hard copies are outputted. The PDF files can be emailed and read on any computer, using Adobe's free Acrobat Reader Software. The software is also included on the free CDs in monthly computer magazines. No guarantee of colour or copy.

6. If you've seen a proof other than a Cromalin or Matchprint and can't afford a wet proof, you may be concerned about last minute mistakes cropping up. You have a few options:
(a) Ask the printer to email you a corrected pdf file so that you can check that the corrections have been done; or
(b) Ask for mono laser proofs. For absolute guarantee that the changes have been done, ask for
(c) An 'ozalid'- a large blueprint from each film. or
(d) See the filmwork or plates before they are on machine. or (e) See the job 'on machine' (ie while it is being printed). But at this stage you can only change the ink colours unless you get new plates made. This is very much a last resort option.

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