We accept InDesign CC and Illustrator CC native files by preference, with type converted to outlines (recommended) or font files included, and any linked art files included separately. PDFs can be fine as well, but only if they are fully editable: that is, if they can be opened in Illustrator and not run into font problems or missing links. Photoshop files are fine for certain purposes—line art or photos that are included in a layout, for instance—but not so good for others: we do not recommend using it for layout. If you are sending an image file, be sure to save as .PSD (Photoshop) or .TIFF. Do not send JPEGs; the file format is notorious for losing data and becoming corrupt, and spot colors can’t be separated properly. We do not accept Microsoft Office or Publisher, AutoCAD, or Quark files.
Imposition refers to the layout of a press sheet. Depending on the size and quantity of your piece, it may be most expedient to print it multiple times on the same sheet. We will determine whether and how to do this in prepress; we prefer that you just send one copy of your art and leave imposition to us.
Set your page size to the finished size of your piece. If any of your art goes to the edge of the page, turn on your software’s bleed feature and set it to .125” (9 points). In InDesign and Illustrator this can be found under File > Document Setup. In both programs bleed can also be set when you create your file; in InDesign you will have to click on “More options” in the setup dialog and in Illustrator, “Advanced”, to set bleed.
Remove all unnecessary objects from your file. This includes: objects on the pasteboard that may be left over from the design process, layers that have been turned off and are not relevant to output, guides (except bleed), and unused swatches in the swatch palette. Not only can these extras increase file size to no purpose, they can be confusing, cause delays in proofing, and introduce avoidable errors into the process. In the case of guides, it is not enough simply to make them invisible; after all, that will make your bleed invisible too; please delete them altogether.
We usually ask to see an in-progress version of your project ahead of time, for pricing or to get a sense of technical considerations that may apply. But when you agree to the estimate and get the ball rolling, if you submit art that is not final it will just cause problems. Introducing multiple versions of the same file is asking for trouble, and we reserve the right to add change fees if a lot of extra work is required. Make your client sign off on a final version before you send it to us, if at all possible; otherwise they may try to make changes right up until and even past their own due date. (It happens!) This is especially important with rush jobs, when lots of decisions are being made in a short period and are then frequently second-guessed. That sort of thing leads to errors that there is no time to fix.
If your layout contains art from another file, such as an illustration or photo, send that file as well. Don’t embed links in Illustrator or InDesign. It may well be necessary for us to edit that file independently, or at least to examine it to make sure it satisfies output requirements. The most common issues are resolution of raster files such as line art created in Photoshop and colors that don’t separate properly (more on this later).
We recommended that you convert all type in your file to outlines. The subject of fonts is a can of worms, and font issues crop up unexpectedly and sometimes do not have a solution; the best way to avoid such problems is not to have any fonts in your file. This can be done in InDesign and Illustrator by the “Create Outlines” command, found under the Type menu. When you do this, be sure to select the text frame with the selection tool (black arrow), don’t select the type with the type tool. In the latter case, while the text itself may become outlines, the text frame is still there and still carries font information that can cause problems. Also, it makes the outlined text difficult and cumbersome to select.
There may be times when it is necessary for the type to be editable; in that case, be sure to include all fonts used in your file along with the layout file, so we can access them if needed. This can easily be done in InDesign by means of the Package command in the File menu, which will gather together all files associated with your InDesign file into a folder you can send to the printer. Illustrator CC (Creative Cloud, the latest version) also has this feature, but previous versions of Illustrator don’t so you will have to assemble the files manually.
The use of commercial fonts is governed by licenses that are included with the font files when you purchase them. These licenses differ in what you have permission to do with the font files, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with their provisions before sending them to us. If they do not allow simultaneous use on multiple systems or transmission to a service provider, you should convert to outlines and take care of any subsequent text editing yourself.
In Illustrator, fonts are not the only items that should be converted to outlines. Objects created with symbols or brushes should also be converted to outlines. If they are not converted, the vector data they contain can cause them to change position unintentionally, may not be accessible to some output devices, and may not separate properly.
Transparency is an appealing feature that is very popular these days, but should be used sparingly or not at all in file setup for print. Its primary application in printing is almost always better served by the overprint command. The wondrous effects it is possible to create with transparency on-screen, and to a lesser extent in offset and digital printing, are not achievable practically with letterpress, where working with tints of any sort is challenging and rarely recommended. Sometimes designers use it to mimic for a client the effect of overprinting either on another ink or on a colored paper, but when it is time to submit the art to the printer, it is best to remove all transparency from the file and turn on overprinting where applicable. It is possible to see what this will look like (more or less) with Overprint Preview (in the View menu in InDesign and Illustrator; also available in Acrobat as Output preview in the Print Production tab of the Tools section). Transparency appears in certain effects such as drop shadows, as well; files with transparency will require extra attention in prepress and may incur an additional fee.
Photoshop is outstanding for dealing with raster images: pixel-based art that is either continuous-tone, such as a photograph or painting, or line art that has been scanned or drawn by hand. Because the files are raster, they are scalable to different sizes in a much more limited way than vector art such as Illustrator files. Therefore it is necessary to keep an eye on resolution and understand what kind of resolution we expect in different circumstances.
The resolution required is based on the output method’s linescreen, a term that refers to the fineness of the image emitted by RIPs (raster image processors). RIPs are the brains of the output devices used to create film and plates. They convert all data (vector and raster) to very high-resolution raster images that are then transmitted to devices such as imagesetters and platesetters. For line art, this is very straightforward, but for continuous-tone images things get more complicated. In that case, the RIP will generate a halftone, an image that is created from parallel lines of dots in varying sizes that together comprise the image. The number of these lines of dots per inch is the linescreen, and different print processes use different linescreens for optimum output. Offset presses routinely use a linescreen, or lpi (lines per inch), of 150, 175, or 200. Letterpress plates do not hold dots as small as those in a 200-lpi image; generally, printers don’t make film for letterpress above 150 lpi.
In order to get the best image quality for a given linescreen, it is best (and easiest) to assume your image should have a resolution, commonly referred to as dpi (dots per inch), that is twice the linescreen of your output device. Thus, a 150 lpi plate would require a 300 dpi image, and a 200 lpi plate would get the best result from a 400 dpi image. It is important to remember that the resolution necessary should be based on the image at output size. If you are working with an image that is 10” x 14” and 72 dpi (the standard resolution for web-based graphics), that is the same as a 5” x 7” image with 144 dpi. If you need the image to be 300 dpi, its actual size would be only 2.4” x 3.36”. While Photoshop gets ever better at “up-sampling”, that is, generating higher-resolution image data by use of algorithms that work out what the missing data is likely to be, it is no substitute for original image data. That is why it is best to know before you create your image exactly how much resolution at output size you are going to need, so that your file contains at least that much data when you submit it to the printer. Don’t go overboard—a 2400 dpi image at 16 x 20 is completely unnecessary for a 2 x 3 output size! But if we asked for 400 dpi and you send 450 to be safe, that is great.
A continuous-tone image is usually a photograph or illustration, and is characterized by gradual transitions between shades and colors that do not necessarily have hard edges. They should be 300-400 dpi at output size, and can be saved in different color modes depending on their output types. Full-color images can be either RGB or CMYK; output will be CMYK in most cases. RGB files are smaller (three sets of data rather than four), but since the RGB color space is larger than the CMYK color space it will not always be possible to reproduce in print what you see on screen.
Images that are meant to be one color are the easiest: make sure they are set to “grayscale” (Image > Mode). You may have converted the art to black & white using a filter or layer adjustment, but if the mode is still RGB the file will be much larger than necessary and will not separate properly. If you are printing a duotone or other multi-spot-color image, use the Image > Mode > Duotone mode, which will open a dialog box where you can apply the different spot colors you need with associated curves. It is a good idea to find out exactly which swatch book you should be using so we will not need to go into the file and change the swatches later. We nearly always print on uncoated paper, so the Pantone (or Pantone+) Solid Uncoated swatch book is our default.
Examples of line art are pen drawings, logos, and a good deal of clip art. Line art usually contains objects with very clear edges. Therefore if your file is line art, the file settings will need to be quite different from those used for continuous-tone images: we request that resolution should be 1200 dpi at output size, and the mode either greyscale or bitmap. The latter is preferable because it creates a one-bit file with very clear edges, but there are occasions where greyscale produces a better result. Bitmap files are much smaller, which is an advantage.
The other advantage of bitmap or greyscale files, apart from size, is that when they are placed in InDesign or Illustrator files it is possible to apply spot colors to them. It is much better to do it that way than to use the duotone mode to create a monotone in a spot color; colors may be changed before going to press, and it is always easier to evaluate the quality of a greyscale image than one with, say, a pale spot color applied.
There is a good reason we recommend 1200 dpi for line art: the human eye is really good at spotting image errors, in this case the fact that what appear from a distance to be lines and curves are really created by square pixels. When the resolution is too low, the edges of the art will show these pixels, particularly around curves, as jagged stairs; this is known as aliasing. Output to film will not be clean and the resulting print will look like a mess. 1200 dpi seems to be the magic number where it is possible to fool the eye into thinking that the edges are clean, so that is the point at which the output will be reliable.
In the case of line art, it is particularly important that files be created from the start with high enough resolution. You should know the output size of your image and make sure the file contains native data at that size. That means if you are scanning art from another source, you should make sure that the scanning resolution is consistent with what you need for output. This will save you a lot of headaches later! Most scanning software offers an advanced mode where you can check settings and change them to generate the image quality you need. You can also scan from Photoshop (File > Import > Image from device) if you have a scanner attached to your computer or network.
If at all possible, don’t use Photoshop as your layout software. If you must, when submitting a Photoshop file, all type and vector art (since it is possible to generate vector art in Photoshop) should be left intact (and that means including your font file(s) as well), and that images must not be flattened. The admonition about clean files bears mention here, delete all unneeded layers! You may have built your files with different versions as you tried things out, but we not only don’t need the unused versions, they increase file size and can generate confusion and errors. Save a copy of your file that you can clean up and submit.
When submitting image files, PSD and TIFF are the standard. Do not send JPEGs. JPEG is a good social file format; it is compressed and much smaller than TIFF or PSD, but it is what is known as a “lossy” format: that is, repeated saves degrade the data in the file. Also they are RGB files and are therefore unsuitable for spot color output.
“Full color” or “process color” printing uses four inks (cyan, yellow, magenta, and black) to generate a large spectrum of colors on press. It is a trick: halftones are created from the output files, their intensity depending on how much of each ink is needed at that point to generate the correct color mix. Furthermore, these halftones are set at specific angles, each one about 30 degrees from its neighbor, so that printing them on top of one another does not create moiré patterns. When printing color halftones, it is not necessary for us to manually separate the colors; the RIP will do that automatically.
Our usual method of printing colors makes use of individual inks, or spot colors. There are a number of different systems in existence, but we use the Pantone Matching System (PMS). This consists of a series of base mixing colors that can either be used individually or mixed to create thousands of other colors.
In order to maintain consistency, Pantone provides printed swatch books with samples of every color along with the proportions needed to mix it. Because ink behaves differently on different types of paper, they print books on uncoated, coated, and matte paper stocks. These correspond to the U, C, and M designations that appear after PMS colors in the software versions of the swatch books. It is not necessary to include the U, C, or M when specifying PMS colors; we will use the mix and match the swatch book for the correct paper type. However, you should be aware of which book to look at when selecting your colors so that you do not expect it to look very different from the actual output.
Note: Letterpress is primarily printed on uncoated paper, often with some texture that shows off the process to best advantage. Most of the offset printing we do is also on uncoated paper. Occasionally, however, we get requests from designers to match a spot color in the coated book for print on uncoated stock. This is frustrating because it is not really possible except in some cases by creating a custom ink mix, and even that is unlikely to produce an exact match.
In order to output files correctly for print, art within them needs to be separated properly. This can be done using any swatch, provided it is a spot color swatch rather than a process color swatch. In practice, we like to see the correct swatch that represents the ink we will use on press; this makes proofing easier and more satisfying and creates the correct labels on laser printouts that accompany the project to the pressroom.
The Pantone color books can be found in InDesign and Illustrator from the Swatches palette. In InDesign, this is straightforward: select “New color swatch” from the dropdown menu. When the dialog box appears, use the pull-down menu next to “Color Mode” to select, e.g., “Pantone + Solid Uncoated”. All spot colors are found either in the Solid, Pastels & Neons, or Metallics swatch books; CMYK and Color Bridge are for process color printing and should not be used for spot color output. In Illustrator, it is a little more complicated. In the Swatches palette, go to “Open Swatch Library” in the dropdown menu and follow it to “Color Books”; here you will see the same list of swatch books as in InDesign. A palette for the book you select will appear, and you can scroll through it or use the find window to type a number. You will need to click on it to add it to your swatch palette.
Spot swatches in Illustrator are shown with a little dot in the triangle at the lower right corner; you should make sure that any swatch you apply to art in your file has that dot, even if it is not strictly a Pantone swatch. You can easily change a swatch to be spot rather than process by double-clicking on it and changing the Color Type from process to spot. For art such as foil, emboss, or diecut, we typically use swatches colored magenta or cyan to indicate that the associated art is not ink.
Make sure that all art in your file has a spot color applied to it (strokes as well as fills). Do this by selecting the art with one of the selection tools and clicking on the correct swatch. As stated above, it is best to delete all of the swatches in the swatch palette that you are not using. By default, Illustrator shows dozens of swatches when you create a new document, and none of them are spot colors. InDesign does this too by default, but you are able to change the default so that new documents don’t have extra swatches. Thus far this is not possible in Illustrator.
The only color that it is standard to leave as a process color is black. However, this can create some pitfalls: your color settings probably differ from ours, so what may appear solid black (by which 100% K, 0% C, M, and Y is meant) on your computer may show up as a mix of the four process colors on ours. We try to verify that black is really black, but never object to having the issue removed by receiving a file with a spot black instead. Whether you use a spot or process black, make sure that all black art is colored with the same swatch. This makes it simpler for us to select and update the swatch as necessary. Illustrator does offer tools to make this easier: under the Select menu, go to Same and then select the relevant search criterion, such as fill color or stroke color.
Don’t use Registration instead of black; it may look the same on screen, but Registration is a special swatch that will output onto every plate. If your file has fifteen spot colors in it, art that is colored with Registration will appear on all fifteen plates. This swatch is there primarily for printers to use when adding press marks to a layout file, so it is best to ignore it entirely.
Rich black is a process color solution designed to create a deeper, blacker black than standard black ink alone. This is done by printing 100% black with the addition of each of the other process colors, usually something like 30% magenta and yellow and 10% cyan. If you need to use this in a process color project, talk to us about how to prepare your file.
A note about ICC profiles: because we do not do a lot of process-color printing, we are not color calibrated. Therefore, there is very little reason to include color profiles in your file, as they just increase file size for no reason. Spot color art does not use them at all. So when you are saving Illustrator files for output, uncheck “Embed ICC profiles” in the Illustrator Options dialog.
Trapping is what printers call the process of overlapping light spot colors into darker ones so that minute changes in registration on press do not result in tiny white spaces where the colors do not quite line up exactly. You may notice that in InDesign and Illustrator, on the Output tab of the print dialog box, it is possible to turn on application-based trapping. In the vast majority of cases, this is not something you need to worry about. Different print processes, and even different presses using the same process, require different amounts of trap (if any). It is best to leave it to us to decide whether trapping is needed and if so how to apply it.
Print Consultations are available Mon thru Friday 10am – 2pm. To schedule an appointment please email us at email@example.com.
A 25% down payment is required to start production, total balance is due on receipt or before your printing is shipped.
Our preferred form of payment is checks, but we also accept Visa, Mastercard, & American Express.
Credit terms may be available to business accounts by completing our credit application process.
Occasionally a rush situation arises with a production timeline that exceeds our schedule. Rather than charging an arbitrary percentage, our policy is to provide our clients with the associated rush fees specific to the project.
Turnaround schedule begins from approval of digital artwork. When your project is approved, we work closely with you assigning a specific schedule and due date. Depending on the project size, turnaround can take anywhere from 4 to 15 working days to complete.
At Evolution Press we do not provide design services. Our pricing model is based on receiving print-ready specs and art. We are always interested in previewing your artwork and help provide recommendations for paper choices, print method(s), and finishing.
During the preliminary design stage, we highly recommend that your design professional contact us. This early-intervention approach allows us to provide resources and make suggestions based on your design.
When you sign off it means you have completely reviewed your proof and accompanying spec sheet for typos & errors. Sign-off gives us the green light to start ordering paper, mixing ink, outputting film, and making plates & dies. After proof approval, any changes can incur additional costs.
We can ship via UPS or FedEx, expedited or ground. If carrier and/or speed are not specified, we will generally ship via UPS Ground. We can also deliver locally via courier.
We accept InDesign CS6 and Illustrator CS6 native files by preference.
We do not accept Microsoft Office or Publisher, AutoCAD, or Quark files.
Yes, but this is not recommended. Unlike a digital proof, a printed press proof requires completely setting up the press—including makereadys and wash-ups—and therefore incurs an additional cost similar to your job estimate.
Yes, if your project has capacity scores, critical folds, or resembles any form of packaging we will create a mockup to ensure form and function
If it’s in the Pantone Matching System it’s not custom. Additional ink costs occur when we are requested to match a color outside the Pantone spectrum or a Pantone color is modified for a desired result.
A press check is when the client & printer decide upon an agreeable time to meet and view their job in the pressroom right before it runs. It’s a great opportunity to experience our pressroom and see your project on press! During a press check you may decide to pull back on ink density, add a little more impression, or maybe it’s dialed!
No. However, additional costs would be incurred if the job parameters change during the press check. A change might be choosing a new ink color or having new ink mixed, washing up the press or requiring a new press make ready.
Sorry we are not currently hiring or offering internships. For future consideration please submit your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We save plates and dies for letterpress, foil, embossing/debosing, and diecutting per the following criteria: if the plate is dated we recycle it after 60 days; otherwise plates are archived for 6 years. We do not save offset plates.
Max sheet for our platen is 13” x 18” or our flatbed cylinder is 20” x 28”
Max sheet for our GTOVP is 14” x 20”
The amount of time your job will take depends on how complex it is, whether paper is available immediately or must be ordered, how long it takes to assemble plates and dies, how many press passes are involved, how much dry time is needed for ink and/or glue, how long finishing (such as folding or envelope conversion) might take, and the number and urgency of other jobs on the schedule at the same time. When we know all the details of your job, we can give you an estimated schedule, but we can’t make any schedule guarantees until the job has been released and proofs approved.
No and yes. Most foil vendors offer a limited palette of metallic and pigment foils, some of which are close to certain Pantone colors. We can have a Pantone foil match if needed but because of the extra costs associated with special-order foils they are usually recommended for long runs.
No, because of the attention & expense required for multiple method printing we are unable to offer wholesale pricing.
No, we work directly with our clients and design agencies.
For us, being environmentally responsible means an ongoing commitment to print responsibly and reduce our local and global footprint.
We recycle our photo fixer, film, and all photopolymer, copper, aluminum, & magnesium printing plates. All of our paper offcuts get recycled or donated to local schools. We use soy-based inks, and our ink recycling program keeps all our ink waste out of landfill. We also use a rag recycling service.
A word on paper:
When choosing a recycled sheet, it’s good to consider whether the stock in question is processed chlorine-free, and what percentage of recycled content it contains. Some papers carry up to 100%, some as little as 30%. When recycled paper is not an option, consider sustainably harvested virgin papers. Because the fibers are so clean they require less water & energy to process than heavily recycled papers.