Graphic design is a process of conveying messages to a particular target group, by combining text and pictures in a meaningful manner. It could be as simple as designing a business card or logo, to more complex projects like creation of motion pictures and animation, among many others.
A graphic design process consists of numerous checklists. Depending on the design of the project, basic checklists include project design, planning, execution, printing and delivery. A checklist indicates the following:
- Project Deliverables
- Overall costs
- Client Files
- Ongoing tasks
- Billing Information
Although all checklists are important, the print checklist is crucial since it precedes the delivery of the project. It ensures that the project design is correct, devoid of any erratic modifications. Any design that needs to go to the printer has to undergo a print checklist, to save on time, resources and ensure the printing of a correct design. Finding mistakes during this stage can save a lot of money in the end. Designers refer to the print checklist as prepress.
Considering that this stage is essential in delivering the correct design, it would be ideal to involve a professional graphic design or someone with a design background. Working with a design novice could prove costly, as most mistakes might go unnoticed during this phase.
What does a graphic design and print checklist involve?
Depending on the project, standard graphic design and print checklist involves four steps:
1. Manual checking
Manual checking is broad and entails proofreading texts, checking colour accuracy (should be CMYK and NOT RGB), confirming fonts, defining bleed lines and crop marks, and removing unused elements. Manual checking is essential in removing errors and making necessary modifications, as people (recipients) usually pay less attention to graphical designs that consist of errors. When it comes to checking colour accuracy, it should be CMYK and not RGB since printers interpret colours in CMYK.
The pre-flight step in a print checklist involves checking a design for technical errors such as missing graphics and misused colours. The process is automatic and involves passing a design through pre-flight software. This step goes hand in hand with manual checking, as they complement each other.
3. Job collection
Job collection entails gathering all active components that have undergone both manual checking and pre-flight analysis, into one folder in readiness, for producing the final layout. Active components include fonts, graphics, text and the design layout.
4. Creating a design preview
Once the design has satisfactorily undergone all the above steps, the designer has to create a preview, preferably in PDF format. PDF is lossless and does not lose the initial quality of the design when creating the preview. If the client specifications have been met, then the print job can go ahead. A good example of a design preview is the portfolio over at Fertile Frog (http://www.fertilefrog.com/) who present both their web design and print perfectly. Here’s an example:
Whether simple or complex, the process of graphic design requires great skills and creativity. Additionally, for a design project to be successful, both the designer and client have to work together towards its realisation. That is why a graphic design and print checklist is necessary to ensure that the designer satisfies all requirements as per the client’s specifications, before delivering the final product.