Updated: Dec 21, 2021
If you have ever had something printed from professional printers, you may have heard the term ‘proof’ or ‘artwork proof’. Proofing is an extremely important part of the print process as it ensures that your artwork is correct and ‘up to standard’ before it goes to print. The more accurate the proofing process is, the less time and money YOU waste on re-prints and mistakes.
Ultimately, proofing is to protect you!
What exactly is a proof?
“A proof is a preliminary version of a printed piece. It provides a close representation of how the piece will appear when printed. Proofs are created to ensure that the client and printer are in complete agreement on the desired outcome before going to press.”
Soft Vs Hard Proof – What is the difference?
A Soft proof is supplied as a digital file, perhaps a pdf, jpg or png that provides a simulation of the finished outcome. This is the most common form of artwork proof that you will receive.
A hard proof, however, is used for more involved projects and is a physical sample of a product or print.
A proof may be supplied for several different reasons.
Perhaps you have supplied an artwork that the printer has indicated is NOT suitable for print? In this case, they may modify the artwork in order to make it suitable and therefore, will supply you with a proof. Alternatively, you may be looking to get a design created? In this instance, the designer will supply an artwork proof as a draft for you to review.
WHY is it important?
While the designer and printer will always do their best to meet your requirements, the artwork is ultimately yours. We rely on your thorough review of a proof to ensure that you are satisfied with what will be produced. If you do not take care and follow simple steps to ensure your design is error free, and you find an error after the design has been pushed to production, it is then your responsibility and at your cost to reprint, if you choose to reprint.
Proofs are commonly a compulsory step in the printing process and most professional printers will never send an artwork to print, until it is proofed and approved.
Here are our Top 10 proofing tips:
READ BACKWARDS - Any artwork proof that contains text is always worth proof reading. However, even when we proof-read some mistakes can be missed. A hack for avoiding this is, reading your work backwards. Our brains are reasonably intelligent at filling in gaps when reading, however, reading backwards forces your brain to comprehend each word carefully and allows you to find errors more accurately.
GET SOMEONE ELSE TO REVIEW IT – Having a set of fresh eyes take a look over your work can assist in picking up errors or mistakes that you may have missed. This task could be done by a colleague, family member or friend.
OPEN IT ON A DECENT SIZED SCREEN – When you are supplied with a soft proof, it is always worth checking the proof on a reasonable sized screen, whether that is a laptop, iPad or computer monitor. While our phones are smart, sometimes it can be difficult to see the artwork clearly, opening the proof on a larger screen gives you a greater chance of getting a more accurate look.
VIEW AT 100% - If you are having something printed at a large size, it is always worth checking how it will look at actual size. Obviously, this is a difficult on a small screen, however, when you open a pdf it is possible to view the pdf at 100%, which will zoom in on the artwork to show you how it will look. This is important for ensuring there is no pixelation and for checking that the font size is appropriate.
COLOURS CAN VARY – When you are supplied with a digital artwork proof, it is important to keep in mind that colours can vary from screen to screen. In the printing industry a CMYK colour code is used to produce your print, however, screens present the colour in an RGB colour code. The difference between the two can create some variations in colour, so be sure to check that the colour you require on your print is a CMYK colour and allow for some slight variation when viewing in RGB on your screen.
DIFFERENT FILE TYPES AND PROGRAMS CAN ALTER THE ARTWORK – If you have supplied an artwork that the printer or designer is amending or pre-pressing, there is a chance that whatever program you created the design in is different to the one the printer or designer is using. Different programs or file formats can mean that parts of your design are altered when opened on different devices. Take time to have a careful look over the proof you are supplied, OR ask you printer what files and programs they use to see if you can supply a compatible file.
OUTLINE OR SUPPLY FONTS – Further to Tip #6, another element that can go astray when supplying assets or artwork you have created yourself, is the typography. Not all fonts are available universally on all devices and therefore it is important to make sure that you ‘outline’ the font before supplying the artwork OR, send the font along with the artwork, so that it can be downloaded.
ALIGMENT – Make sure you check the alignment of images and text. If something is meant to be aligned and it is appearing skewed, make sure to point it out straight away. While a slight misalignment on your screen may not seem too bad, when it is printed at actual size you may be disappointed with the outcome.
TAKE YOUR TIME – If supplied an artwork proof by a designer, make sure to review the artwork carefully and thoroughly before approving. While the designer will advise of any errors or concerns, ultimately the artwork is yours and therefore, the designer relies on your feedback to make adjustments.
MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE– This old saying is super important in the printing game. If you are getting an artwork or design printed for a specific space or purpose, make sure to double check the measurements and specifications you supply to the designer. The last thing you want is to receive the print and realised you gave the wrong size.
Following the above tips will ensure that you are satisfied with the accuracy and finish of the print that is produced. And if at any point in the process you are uncertain, make sure to ASK before you hit approve!
Once you have approved an artwork proof, you are agreeing that you are happy with the design. Any errors picked up after printing are your responsibility.
While the process of proofing may seem unnecessary and tiresome when you are in a hurry to receive your print, it is our way of protecting you and making sure that the product you receive meets your expectations. The last thing we want is to waste your time and your money, so make sure to commit the necessary time and attention in the proofing stage.