Thursday, August 13, 2009

Quality printing often goes unrecognized

The annual Premier Print Awards (a.k.a. "The Bennys") are the print industry's equivalent of "The Oscars" and will be handed out at a gala affair during Print 09 in September. Having been a judge for this award (that's me in the blue shirt top row center in the above photo) made me realize just how much good presswork is never even entered for award consideration. So, I'd like to highlight two pieces whose quality have always impressed me – especially considering that you would not expect such quality used for these applications.

First is the Behr series of paint catalogs which, in North America, may be picked up at any Home Depot hardware store. Over the past ten years or so, hundreds of thousands of these catalogs have been printed by Creative Press in California using 10 micron FM screening – a process that is extremely demanding of the entire print production process. The fineness of the halftone screening provides true photographic print fidelity even when examined under a loupe. It's a level of quality that one rarely sees in even the finest corporate brochures, let alone in such a modest application as paint catalog printing.
Cover of Behr paint brochure

At left is a paint can image as reproduced in the brochure at 100% and shown enlarged at right

Next are the newspaper flyers produced by Transcontinental Press.
Grocery store newspaper flyer insert

Here, 25 micron FM screening is used on relatively poor quality paper to provide near-photographic reproduction of their client's products. Again, even when examined with a loupe, the level of detail is astounding - especially considering, not only the paper that's being used, but the high speed web presses, and the enormous volume of flyers produced.
At left is a product image as reproduced at 100% in the flyer and shown enlarged at right

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