To create a print that makes people notice, you need to choose the right images, colours and fonts so everything balances out perfectly. You will also need a flexographic printer for extra large prints, along with a number of sleeve accessories and storage solutions to keep your materials organized.
Since the world has become highly dependent on digital processes, it’s easy to overlook some important details when preparing a document for large-scale printing. Signs, banners or posters, whichever large print you’re going for, stand out in a spectacular way. It’s important to differentiate between vector images and bitmaps, CMYK versus RGB colours.
As a friendly reminder, here are seven tips to help you avoid the most common challenges encountered in large scale printing:
Tip #1: Vector Images versus Bitmaps
For large scale printing projects, use vector images whenever possible. Vectors work differently from JPEGs and other bitmaps. Vectors have their shapes, lines and colours defined by mathematical equations as opposed to bitmapped images, which have individual pixels assigned with a fixed location and colour value. This way, irrespective of the size of the vector image, it stays sharp.
Bitmaps, on the other hand, have a jagged, blocky look if you scale them too much. Vector images tend to be smaller than their bitmap equivalent. If you need to print the file several times, the file will spool to the printer much more quickly. The smaller size means you will experience fewer computer slowdowns as you work with the file and also spend less time uploading and downloading.
Tip #2: Choose your Fonts Wisely
Most large scale prints are meant to be viewed from a distance, which means you will need to choose fonts not only for style but also for readability. Many people find script styles and serif fonts more difficult to read, but some sans serif fonts have readability challenges too.
To test a font for readability, back away from your computer’s monitor and read the text from a distance. Better still, have someone who doesn’t know what you’ve written read it to see if they have trouble reading the text. It’s best to use a cross-platform font (one that’s available for different operating systems).
This is a guarantee that your fonts will properly display if you need to take your file to a client, print shop or someone who runs a different operating system from yours. These cross-platform fonts include Arial, Times New Roman, Trebuchet and Verdana.
Tip #3: Colour Choices
As with fonts, viewing distance is a key consideration when choosing colours. Pick a background colour that contrasts well with the text and graphic elements so viewers can read your banner or sign easily. Keep the colour scheme simple; two or three colours should be enough. To print an event or movie poster that will make people stop to read, use a broader palette.
Set your design software to the same colour mode as your printer. This way, you’ll have more accurate colour rendition when you make a large scale print. If you’re using different software from the printer, use the switch over button to get the same colour mode as the printer.
Tip #4: Balance is Key
Signs, posters and banners have one thing in common; they are meant to be read and quickly absorbed as people walk or drive past them. This, in essence, means they should not be cluttered with tons of graphics and text; they should not be too sparse either. Use only a few well-placed graphics. Maintain ample space around each graphic, so the viewer is not overloaded with information.
Use simple graphics like line drawings and stylized logos or artwork. Compared to intricate designs, these images are easier to understand at a glance. Go easy on the text also. For banners and signs, a headline, subheading or a few short sentences would suffice to communicate quickly. Event posters require more details such as venues, dates, times and locations.
Tip #5: Factoring Page Bleed
Bleeding is a printing term that means a document’s image or colour goes right to the edges of the paper. When you leave space for bleed, it means you’re giving the printer a margin of error to work with; otherwise, you would require a bigger paper to print and then trim. Factor between 3 and 5 millimetres of space on each edge. Fill this area with the background colour, but ensure that text and graphics do not drift into this area.
Tip #6: Printer Connection
Should your wide format printer be connected to an Ethernet cable, print directly to the printer via USB from a local machine connected directly to the printer. This eliminates the complications that arise when trying to send large amounts of print data across a network. If possible, for efficient printing, use a printing machine that’s connected to a local wide format printer.
Tip #7: Have Ample Free Hard Drive Space
There’s nothing like too much free hard drive space if you’re printing large prints. Printing a 44-inch wide print that’s several feet long can take 5 GB of hard drive space or more. As a rule of the thumb, always keep 10GB free space on the hard drive where your print driver spools data. Some software requires a lot of hard drive space to process. This is because it passes a lot of data to the driver, which, in turn, caches the data to a disk while spooling.