I was taking a look at graphic projects, you know the daily work we get, to see if I could break it down into simplified, logical steps. The reason for this is to start a discussion on how we get things done and to see if you have an opinion on how to better serve the graphic market. So read on and let me know if you agree, disagree, or if you just want to add a step or comment.
Software – Original Designs
Whether you use an Adobe product such as Photoshop or Illustrator, or a more specific product such as FlexiSIGN, PosterShop or SignLab, learning the little tips and tricks that each has for design is essential. Be sure to invest in online, computer-based or live training so you can take full advantage of these fine products.
Web Images – Small Signs
Of course some images in your layout will come from the internet, so it is also essential that you understand formats, resolutions. Also understand copyrights so you don’t get yourself in trouble legally. Take advantage of Googles advances search options to find legal images. Google image searches are awesome and can provide many images for those layouts. Products like Vectormagic and PhotoZoom Pro can also be helpful in resolving resolution issues.
Of course let’s not forget the good ole digital camera. A good camera is great for recording where an image or sign is to be placed, and can be used in mockups. It also can be useful in taking images that are very unique as well. Most of the time a good 8 megapixel camera will do well, especially if you use the programs mentioned above for resolution issues.
The key to all of the above design tools is knowing your tool. Learning, education, training and practice are essentials to getting a good design.
Water Ink – Desktop
Surprisingly, aqueous inks are making quite the comeback in signage and printing. The wider color gamut and cheaper inks are probably part of that equation. In addition, there are many more media, including textiles that are aqueous compatible for instance take a look at some from Neschen Americas.
Solvent Ink – Large
Of course solvent printers are still very popular and well supported. There are many ICC profiles, but be careful with those newer printers where ink sets go beyond CMYK and use orange red, blue, violet inks. Some RIP software does not yet support these extra color channels.
UV Ink – Flat Bed
Flatbed printers are also climbing in popularity, probably due to the fact that many of them can print right to a substrate such as Cintra etc. and because the ink set allow for immediate use outdoors.
Latex Ink – Heat
HP introduced the latex printer but Mimaki now also has a model. This ink set is useful for many reasons. One is that the finished product can immediately be laminated, and two, the ink has a bit more “stretchability” than solvent and thus can handle those acute contours on a vehicle wrap fro instance.
One Side – Cut Sheet or Roll-to-Roll
Finishing can be as simple as covering a sheet to roll of prints with a thin film to protect from UV or to add durability to the finished image. There are many films to choose from and many are simple to apply by using a laminator and pressure. Check out some from SEAL®.
Both Sides – Encapsulate
Occasionally, an image may need to be encapsulated where, both sides are laminated. Typically this involves heat-activated laminates, but pressure sensitive laminates can be used as well, if you have the right laminator.
Adhesive Only – Mount
Finally, there are times that we use mounting adhesives. Lately, companies such as SEAL have release adhesives that are permanent on one side and removable on the other. Check our SEAL new gudy window product as an example.
Foam Board – Signs Etc.
Sometimes we just need a simple adhesive to mount an image to foam board. There are many choices here from a simple spray can of adhesive to more permanent adhesives applied with your laminator.
Plexiglas – Back light
Adding images to the back-side or second surface of a clear Plexiglas can be a bit more challenging. Not only must the image align correctly but the adhesive must be perfectly clear. SEAL makes a product called OptiMount that can be useful here.
Windows – Advertise
Window advertising is a great application and requires two types of adhesives, permanent and removable. The permanent for those location where the customer wants the message to endure for years and removable where the customer wants the message to come down in a few days or weeks and replaced with new advertisement. Again, gudy window by SEAL is a good choice here.
So basically, Im saying there are four steps in successful graphic design and you need to consider each of these in choosing the right tools.