We’re quite lucky that in this day and age, we’re able to see a proof of an artwork design before we commit it to the printers. It’s especially lucky for us in packaging because once a bag is committed to print, that’s it. It’s too late to change!
Receiving a packaging artwork proof, or a ‘test’, means that you’re able to see any mistakes that have been made. It could have been made during the printing process or it could be a typo. It’s important to fix these mistakes before the job is completed.
Firstly, it must be said that it’s important to use a proper graphic designer, whether they’re outsourced or in-house. Make sure they know what they’re doing before putting them in charge of quite a heavy investment! Once things go to print, it’s highly unlikely they can be changed. This is why proofs were invented in the first place!
There are a number of ways in which proofs can be done. Here’s a quick guide to the proofs we work with almost daily.
PDF proofs for packaging are often used in the industry as a means of showing the buyer what the finished artwork will look like on their packaging. These can be printed out, using a digital printer, at 300 dpi (dots per inch) and are offered to the customer for initial check. However, these are not a true representation of the colours, especially if visualised on screen, as colours can vary from one PC to another for example.
These proofs are generally only used to approve the layout, dimensions and content of the designs. In some cases, they are also used to re-approve proofs when a typo has been fixed or to check the resolution of an image.
Once printed, PDF proofs are merely flat pieces of paper – a printout of the artwork on the packaging dieline or cutter guide of the packaging format selected.
It is not usually a 3-dimensional mock-up of the packaging. If you require a full 3D mock-up, we have somewhere you can liaise with that we can direct you to.
Cromalin proofs are the product of a proofing process. They are often used to approve CMYK process colours before going on press. The Cromalin proofs definition means that these are press proofs used to approve a final design in printing. The next step in the printing process would be the actual press proofing.
Cromalins are one type of proof that is used in printing and is typically created by a pre-press professional at the printer.
The customer must give their approval on PDF proofs and/or Cromalin proofs, and this is simply done by signing them off. This basically gives the manufacturer the “OK” to go ahead with the job of printing the film.
GMG ColorProof is the benchmark in digital proofing. Setting industry standards and a globally recognized solution guarantee a contract-proof system that all parties can trust: from the press-room to the pre-press, as well as agencies and marketing departments.
GMG’s are always colour calibrated, so that Pantone colours or Special colours are 100% accurate and can be approved for exact colour matching.
In recent years, this has become the printing standard for the packaging industry, where colour management of brand identity is essential to retailers and brand owners.
Troubleshooting printing problems
There are a whole array of things you weren’t expecting that can crop up in printing. Here are just a few of the most common problems we encounter:
- Layers in the files that should have been removed
- Poorly organised layers (i.e. spot varnish, transparent layers)
- Layers with no names, leading to confusion
- Colour profiles are not correct, or colours missing entirely
- Images are low resolution resulting in blurry or pixelated artwork
- Wrong version of the file (outdated)
- Fonts not embedded or outlined
- Images are linked to and not embedded into the file
We endeavour to make sure your packaging is printed perfectly, but of course, things can go wrong, whether that is human error or machine.
We offer a 2-step proofing process and this could take the combination of PDF proofs & Cromalin proofs or PDF proofs and GMG proofs. This usually eliminates mistakes entirely, but it is important to scan the artwork a few times using a few different people to make any errors fixed before they head to the factory.
We’re highly knowledgeable in printing for packaging, so if you have any questions or concerns, perhaps that your branding colours may not show up boldly enough, etc, let us know and we’ll do our best to answer them.
If you’re looking for more information on our company and the services we offer, feel free to download our Company Brochure. You’ll find examples of our work with local and global brands and retailers, as well as information on our print technology.