Terminology of Printing for Designers: Are You Aware?

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Throughout every industry, there is a specific vernacular that its workers must first understand. There are many professional people today, who work in both digital and print design. When you approach one of the talented designers to create something for your business, it’s a good idea to learn about the terminology for the field. When it comes to print design, the jargon is very unique. It is different from the terms used in digital design. Read on to learn more about how professional printing works. Discover the nuances of the different terminology used in this industry here.

1. DPI or Dots Per Square Inch

DPI, or dots per square inch, is a terminology that refers to the measure of print quality. Most printers work by creating thousands of tiny dots to create an image. The more dots there are, the more accurate the image. If you consider the same image, one printed with a high DPI and one with a low DPI, you’ll see an instant difference. While a low DPI image is still recognizable, it’ll look blurry and pixelated. With a high DPI, you’ll be able to see the smallest details accurately.

2. CMYK

These four letters refer to the four different base colors almost every printer uses. Every other color used in the printing process uses some combination of these four hues. The following colors are CMYK:

  • Cyan
  • Magenta
  • Yellow
  • Black

Combining these colors in different amounts creates hues with a designated numerical values. Using CMYK color ensures consistency across all print jobs, even if you use a different designer or a different printer model. Having the same color printed across all platforms maintains your brand integrity.

3. Large Format

Large format means anything that has to be printed on specifically sized paper, usually larger than 16” x 20”. Generally, large format printing is used for many advertising mediums that are significantly sized, such as banners, posters and billboards. Since billboards and other big advertisements need to be viewed from a distance, large format is essential to the visibility of a project. When seen up-close, large format text and images may look pixelated. But, from a distance, this quality makes them easily readable.

4. The Terminology: Pantone Color

Pantone is the worldwide color standard. As a company that was founded in 1963, they created a universal system for matching colors used almost as often as CMYK. The Pantone standard is mainly used when you want to print the same logo or image across several different platforms. To maintain consistency on coated, uncoated and matte surfaces, Pantone released a color kit that shows each color followed by a letter that designates how it looks on a specific surface.

5. Ink Types

Not all ink is the same. There are solid, dye and pigment cartridges that are used for print projects. Solid ink printing uses several bricks of color that rub onto the page. This creates beautiful, vibrant color. Dye ink is a liquid based ink that soaks into the paper fibers to print a specific color. Dye inks can bleed or mix together. This is because, the paper is too damp to separate the colors. This ink fades quickly. You can find cheap ink cartridges online, usually re-manufactured to save costs.

Whether you’re printing a project or working with a designer, you’ll need to know these terminologies to effectively communicate your vision. You don’t have to be an expert. But knowing the jargons will help you create printed projects that last.

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