Print Work Question

Hey All,

I am a new Graphic Design student, so this question may be a dumb one. When designing print work like brochures and postcards, does using a lot of photos increase the price by a lot? Would it be best to use black and white pictures when possible, or try to stick to using only a few colors? Any insight would be great.

depends on how you are having them printed or if there will be a mix of color and black and white.

Hopefully a lesson in Spot color vs 4-color printing is in your future.

If you have a color photo anywhere in the design, you will be doing a 4-color print, whether it is a postcard, brochure or t-shirt (I added the t-shirt for a reason)

Using a lot of photos doesn’t matter. The price of the page will be the same whether there is one small photo in the very bottom corner or a full page collage of photos.

Where it might matter is if you are doing a press run with 4-color images and spot colors. Spot colors are mixed inks and require an addiitonal press plate on top of the 4 color plates used for the photos. Each plate is an additional charge. Or you could convert your spot color to CMYK to avoid that, but you should know how to do that so you don’t get a very noticeable shift in color.

As for that t-shirt, most places that print those use spot colors only. Not all of them will do a 4-color photo. So using that black and white image will be to your advantage there. There are some direct-to-garment printers out there and some CMYK-capable screen printers.

Alway always always read the printer specifications. And ask questions if you are unsure what they mean. Always better to ask than to have to pay for a reprint out of your own pocket.

thank you so much for the information! I’ll make sure for this project i’m using CMYK 4-color printing!

Just remember if you have corporate logos that are specified as Pantones that you should get a Pantone Bridge to see what they might possibly look like when converted for press. You need the physical book, not some online thing.
If the Pantone converts to something awful or washed out, you may want to do a swap on the CMYK numbers using the conversion that more closely matches your intent.

If you don’t have a book, ask your printer (unless doing this online, then all bets are off.)

If you aren’t working with corporate Pantone matches, ignore this.

I would just add, that your instructor(s) should be guiding you on these things.

Also, decide/determine/research how the final piece will actually be printed.

CMYK is required for large presses with large runs. But if it’s a small quantity, it may be printed at a local copy shop, which could mean printing on an inkjet printer that uses RGB colors.

Bottom line, this is something to nail down before you start a design. Learn the end goal and work backwards.

I’m really curious about the inkjets with RGB colors…
So I looked it up.
It’s not common. Certainly not at a local copy shop.
Actually seems rather niche. It also seems to still be subractive and I’m not buying the inks are RGB. That’s just another way of saying Magenta, Yellow and Cyan.

Merck developed its RGB process using its proprietary pigments, applied by screen printing. When they were ready to move from concept to full production, Merck came to Saueressig for expertise in rotogravure printing—the ideal system for transferring pigments in the volume required for the RGB technique.

…printing is done directly on a black substrate, as opposed to CMYK where a black background is achieved by printing all four colors at full saturation. So, for example, you can present your brand artwork directly on a black box or label for a deep, dramatic look that you couldn’t achieve using CMYK.

The pearlescent pigments create otherworldly images that seem to radiate a shimmer or glow from within. And the RGB technique offers a larger, more diverse color space than CMYK, giving designers a greater range of hues and saturations for the freedom to explore entirely new possibilities.

Luxury brands, fine wines and whiskies, cigars and other indulgences are natural candidates for the distinctive and sophisticated effects that can be achieved with RGB printing. Graphic designers will likely discover creative uses for this new method across many other product categories.

Full article:

And a marketing blurb:

The problem with the process is it can’t be photographed!
I’m a gonna looky around a bit and see if I can lay hands on a sample print.

There is the LumeJet but it is a totally different tech entirely. Not even any ink involved.–-lumejet-s200

I’m not sure if it’s okay to add a question of my own to someone else’s thread, so please tell me if I should ask this in a separate thread.
What about a two-colour or duotone job to make it cost less than a 4-colour job? For example, a black and a sepia tinge to give the photos an old world effect? I’m not saying that that’s what the OP wants, but is it generally an option for photos at all in terms of cutting costs and also not compromising too much on the aesthetics?

the Lumajet is a photographic process, just like the Lambda and Lightjet printers in use now. It just uses LEDs instead of lasers to expose the photo papers. Surprised the size is so small. The Lambda can print up to 50" wide x 150ft of roll stock and the Lightjet can print 72" x 120" if there is a processor and media available for that (there are a few left in NYC I use once in a while for backlits that size.)
Perhaps the Lumajet uses a specialty paper that isn’t available larger.
It still uses a silver halide developing process though, just like the Lambda and Lightjet.
There is one other RGB laser machine out there that I can never remember the name of that also does the 50" media. Only ran into it once. Very similar to the self-contained photo processing units out there for what’s left of the film negative industry.

Two-color is always an option. But you have to consider the output process.
On a conventional press that uses plates, or for silk screening, using only 2 colors would save money in the set up charges but you usually have to have a very large run to make the cost of each print cost effective.

For a digital press, there are no plates. The inks are already there, and quite likely the 2-color image would be run as a 4-color job anyway as that is how ICC profiles are set up. They approximate spot colors using CMYK inks. Your sepia would be a 4-color mix. Perhaps even the black too, to give you a nice rich black. The advantage of digital presses, you can do a very low quantity very cost effectively.

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PD, that was a fascinating article.

And here’s an article that talks about RGB print files for inkjet printers better than I can.

When I worked for and another shop, they printed the fine art on wide-format Epson inkjets that accept RGB files.

So I should have said “an inkjet printer that uses RGB” files - not “colors.” I stand corrected.

Apparently, inkjet printers do internal conversions. Because you’re correct that the cyan, yellow, and magenta inks aren’t “RGB” inks.

Although I do still think that the final output files should be discussed with the printer before starting the design. :smile:

Yes, fine art is usually created or scanned in an RGB color space, at least Adobe RGB or sometimes ProPhoto RGB, just so the full gamut of color information is available for conversion to machine profile.

Epsons, especially those with extended ink sets for fine art, have excellent profile conversions for wider-than-normal CMYK gamuts. Any printer is capable of taking RGB files. It’s the output capabilities of the ink system that determines how successful the conversion will be.

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