So why isn't prepress taken more seriously by creative types? Why are they not as familiar with both the limitations and possibilities of translating what is on screen to the actual paper? I think the problem lies in the way workflow production is taught in post-secondary education, as the material is often delivered in a dry and technical perspective. Many books I used before writing Exploring Digital Prepress were very complex with formulas that many students could simply not understand much less remember. Instructors using these texts would ask students to perform tasks that were rarely used in the industry like calculating the size of an image in Photoshop® using only its bit-depth and dimensions in pixels. Well this information can be obtained by going to the bottom of the Photoshop® window and selecting document sizes from the pop up menu. Why should a designer or anyone for that matter waste valuable studio time on this? Academia sometimes lose sight of the fact that in the business world, time is money! So don't expend energy on trivial exercises to prove you're a prepress Einstein. Instead, show your boss or creative director how clever you are by producing a unique piece.
You can prove you are a prepress guru by adding a spot varnish or blind emboss to the cover of a brochure or saving costs by substituting a spot color used in a logo for one of the process inks and saving the client money in how many plates are required which saves printing costs. Suggest a paper stock that makes the piece look more expensive and elaborate without blowing the client's budget. Or if you're limited in the number of inks you can use, then make your images into multichannel duotones thereby enhancing them. A die-cut or unusual fold can add interest to your piece without significant cost. Many of these techniques are explained in Exploring Digital Prepress. If knowledge is power, then prepress knowledge is a designer's secret power! Use it to your studio and their client's advantage—they will appreciate your extra efforts. For a designer who truly understands prepress is ten steps ahead of the rest. With this knowledge you can go boldly where others dare not tread.
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