Minimum Stroke and Point
All lines should be no thinner than 0.25 point. Check all hairlines, as lines smaller than the minimum may not hold up on our printing plates. Shapes should be no smaller than 1 point. Check over all "j" and "i" characters. Punctuation should also meet this size requirement. Though we've gotten away with extremely small type in our work, we recommend all type be no smaller than 6 points in size.
Overprinting is the result of layering once color ink over another. Letterpress inks have a slight transparency that may cause colors to look different than their screen value. Set your artwork to "multiply" to see how they will appear once printed. Overprinting can be used to expand your color options when printing (especially on colored stocks), since the use of two inks can result in a "third" ink color when overprinted. Colored paper will have a similar effect.
Dark Colored Stocks
Most printing done on darker papers is accomplished with foil stamp or screenprinting. Letterpress inks have a slight transparency making them very difficult to see on dark paper. Generally, the only colors that will show up on a darker stock are ink colors that are darker than the paper itself. Opaque white ink will show up warmer or cooler in hue than bright white foil stamping. Metallic inks are your best best on darker papers when legibility is a requirement.
Our 1930s press was built primarily for small type used for printing books. Large shapes and text will likely print inconsistently from sheet to sheet and will usually have varying ink coverage across the shape. We recommend that all artwork with a wide contrast in shape-size be treated like a two-color print job, allowing us to print smaller elements with less ink and larger shapes with denser ink coverage. Look through our work to see samples of ink coverage variation.
A blind deboss is the result of letterpress printing without ink. Although the effect is similar to two-die standard embossing (debossing), the overhead cost is much cheaper and preferred for smaller print jobs. Be sure to indicate with layers which elements should be printed without ink. Additionally, blind items are considered their own "color" when using our price calculators or making a purchase. Our experience has been that extremely small elements do not appear legible with a blind deboss. This process is more suited for accent elements, textures, and clear typesetting.
If your artwork has any elements that "fall off" the sheet, include a 0.125-inch bleed on all sides. You can do this be creating a clipping mask that is 0.25-inches larger in width and height than your desired card size. We suggest that text or other elements that do not bleed off the sheet NOT be included in the clipping mask. This helps if we need to make any adjustments to the file once we've received the artwork. In some cases, the price of a project depends on whether or not the artwork bleeds.
We use uncoated stock for nearly 95% of all jobs. Cranes Lettra, Strathmore Wove, Colorplan Papers, Reiche Cotton, and Classic Crest are uncoated options we use most frequently. When specifying ink colors, be sure you are using an UNCOATED Solids Pantone swatchbook. Ink colors, though identically mixed, will match more consistently with an uncoated swatch, as they are being applied to uncoated papers. Additionally, do not count a screen value (CMYK, RGB, or even Pantone Solid) to correctly represent the printed quality of an ink. Letterpress inks are mixed by hand as closely as possible to the Pantone Uncoated Solid swatch selected for artwork. Stock color, job quantity, and artwork detail will also effect ink application to a degree of variance.
We can print in metallic gold, silver, or a blend of the two. Metallic inks are completely opaque, making them a nice combination with darker papers. Because metallic inks react to light, they will have a different appearance depending on the angle of direct light and your perspective. Additionally, metallic letterpress inks do not appear similar to shiny hot foils—they are quite dull and give a slight shimmer depending on the type of paper they are printed on.
Some jobs require additional processes and printing methods to get the best result. We work with some of the best printshops around to make this happen. Digital and offset printing is common for projects that require consistent ink coverage of large shapes or elements that are too small to be printed with letterpress plates. If you have questions about your project, feel free to get in touch through our contact page, and we will review your project specifications thoroughly.
We require artwork to be submitted in either a PDF or Adobe Illustrator file. Be sure that all text and objects are outlined and set color values to 100% K (other values should be 0%). Once you've indicated the Uncoated Pantone ink colors for the job, we will use these files for producing printing plates. The color mode should be set to CMYK and files should be saved in a "working" format. The artboard dimensions should match the paper size. Do not include any artwork in the file that is not intended to be used for the project. Have a question about your file? Don't hesitate to ask.
Once you have confirmed your order with us, your order is non-refundable. We require a 50% deposit for custom orders. This deposit is non-refundable after we have initiated your order. Custom orders may not be cancelled or refunded once final proofs have been approved. Once you have approved the final proof, we cannot accept returns due to any errors or oversights. By approving your final proof you accept responsibility for the information, specifications, and layout as shown. If errors are discovered after proof approval, we will send you a new estimate for the reprint.
We are happy to send out paper options for a job when applicable. Swatch samples may not accurately show texture detail or color vibrance in all conditions. When specifying paper for a job, please select uncoated stocks. Coated stocks do not allow for proper drying of rubber-based inks used on our presses. Although we have printed on papers with a diverse range of texture, we find that artwork incorporating more detailed elements appear best on smooth papers. Heavy texture will effect the impression quality. When considering paper options, we recommend using colored stocks as an alternative to printed washes. Paper richness is a great substitute to printed inks when available for a given job.