Seeing a brand design come to life
The beauty of print design
Print design is every graphic designers guilty pleasure. The textures of the paper to the vibrancy of the colours or sleekness of the print finishes. With a lot of brand and graphic design being online these days, high quality print design is decreasing. People say ‘print is dead’ – hell no it isn’t! This attitude saddens us all a lot here at Martin Hopkins, but also means we really appreciate when a print job falls on our desks. That’s why when we had the opportunity to see the new Data Cymru brand design come to life in the form of their new business cards, it was an opportunity we just would not and could not miss…
Bold branding design on press
Our friends down at Spectrum print were very accommodating and invited us down to take a look at their state of the art printing machinery. We found it fascinating learning more about their process and seeing the printers in action. Data Cymru is a project we hold very close to our hearts, and as such we knew we needed the printed material to be perfect and vibrant. With the new Data Cymru brand being a digital led brand, it holds a vibrant online colour. To print a colour in this vibrancy can be very difficult using CMYK printing processes, which is why we asked Spectrum print to use two carefully chosen Pantone colours to create the finished product. This ensured the final print held the vibrancy and kept true to the branding design. Many of Data Cymru’s peers have commented on the colour and boldness of the new brand, and as such we knew we could not let them down.
A trip out for our graphic designers
Arriving at the home of Spectrum we were nothing short of excited to see our designs on press. As graphic designers we sit our desks in our studio pouring out our creativity, and we don’t often get to see our designs coming to life on printed material. That being said, we would love to see our designs on press more often. Lawrence was kind enough to let us in on their printing process, showing us the tested prints and how they take care and attention to alter the heaviness of the inks on each part of the printing plate. Viewing the test piece on their digital table, we were fascinated to see how where the ink was heavier, they would program the printer to go lighter on that area. Not only that but great care and attention was taken to ensure that the printed cards matched the Pantone swatch as closely as possible. Pantone swatch book at the ready, we carefully assessed the test print and how the design came out in the printed material. Once we were happy, the print was approved to go on press and the real exciting part could begin.
The complexity of print
Print can be a complicated process. There are so many variables that go into getting the perfect print job. From paper stock to ink, sizing and printing process, any small changes along the way can end in a very different result. Think about how if you print at home on an inkjet, how different the colour turns out compared to a laser printer you may have at work, which has a slight sheen. Just that sheen itself can make colours appear more vibrant than if they were printed flat onto paper. Matt lamination will dull back colour, where gloss lamination will make it stand off the paper. All of these seemingly small decisions will impact how your marketing materials come out. Our trained designers know the insides out of printing processes and how best to get a printed design we can be proud of. For Data Cymru, this meant that matt lamination was a big no no. However, at Martin Hopkins we aren’t big fans of gloss lamination (it has a habit of cheapening the look of print!) so we opted for a light printing seal, to protect the Pantone printing with a sheen and to hold the integrity of the cards.
Investing in print equipment
Spectrum have invested well over £1M on their new professional printing equipment. We had the opportunity to see how they print their own printer plates for their large press – the one that our brand design was currently sitting on. You can see from the photographs that the press has several stages. Usually, this would be the CMYK process – Cyan Magenta Yellow and Key (black). The plates are used to then transfer the design across onto the paper stock. For this job, it was of course the two Pantone colours we had specified. We found it interesting to learn that at Spectrum take the CMYK process and switch around the colours. Rather than doing yellow second to last, they put it last. This is to ensure that the colour holds and as much vibrancy as possible is present. In this instance, the main Pantone was applied first, then the darker overlay. To use Pantone on the printing press, the professionals at Spectrum print have to clean the rollers and plates, ensuring no CMYK ink that could spoil the print remains. As you can imagine this process can be quite lengthily!
New brand design, flying through
Our designs were flying through this press; we were told the press was capable of running at 15,000 sheets per hour. They had kindly slowed this to 10,000 so had the chance to actually see our designs – any faster and it would have been a blur! Our designers really enjoyed seeing this process, as it can sometimes feel that the appreciation for print processes is very low. We are all so used to our at home printers chucking out copies in seconds, that we don’t realise the complexity of the CMYK & Pantone printing processes on a larger more professional scale.
A big thank you
We’d like to thank Spectrum for inviting us down to their home, and accommodating our needs as they did. Safe to say this won’t be the last visit – we’re excited to see more print jobs on press. After all – print is not dead.
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