Preflight, an Integral part of Graphic Design | Markzware

What Does Preflighting The Design Mean?

Preflighting the design is an important step in the print workflow. FlightCheck is the standard preflighting application to check graphic design files before printing. Markzware, developer of FlightCheck, asks the graphic designer, “Has this ever happened to you?”

The scenario: You’ve meticulously designed your marketing masterpiece and sent it to your printer. The deadline is tight, but you made it. Then the phone rings. It’s your printer calling about printing problems that involve your piece. You are about ready to scream, because the client is waiting to get this job out to his customers.

You ask the printer what the printing problems are. The response: You sent low-resolution graphics, and have missing files and graphic items with the wrong color space. The job also has missing or stylized fonts. You think,

Ugh, why didn’t I know the file I created and designed was improperly prepared?

The reason is that this content creation did not involve preflighting the design. FlightCheck could have prevented this embarassment.

The word “design” means more than making a product look pretty. Of course, a beautiful piece is very important, but possibly more significant is how the piece works and functions. The design’s performance is the result of the designer’s objectives in terms of getting the reader to think and do something. Wikipedia’s definition of “design” includes this statement:

Designing normally requires a designer to consider the aesthetic, functional, and many other aspects of an object or a process, which usually requires considerable research, thought, modeling, interactive adjustment, and re-design.

To ensure print quality control, it is imperative that the “mechanical design” is accurate. What a preflight solution like FlightCheck does is assist the “right-brained” designer, by providing a logical/mechanical software solution that does the left-brained work for him. Preflight is a logical process in the overall design and construction of the piece to be printed. The end objective of the print workflow needs to be thought out well in advance, so that the piece will print as expected. If this doesn’t happen, the entire design concept is worthless.

In the era of digital printing, graphic artists must think beyond aesthetics and accept some responsibilities once held by prepress and printers. While checking for print quality control, a preflight solution, such as FlightCheck, provides the benefit of “lean” manufacturing for both designers and printers.

Preflighting and establishing an effective print workflow includes:
• identifying defective products
• eliminating overproduction or excessive waste
• reducing work-in-process inventory
• avoiding over-processing
• stopping unnecessary movement of people and of products
• reducing wait time

Graphic artists of days gone by may have had it easier than their contemporary counterparts. Primarily, they could concentrate on the aesthetics of great content. This allowed others (prepress and print production people, for example) to deal with the mechanics of producing it.

But the role of today’s graphic artist is a bit more complicated, thanks to the introduction of new electronic media and a shift of responsibilities. By and large, “prepress” has fallen by the wayside. This leaves it up to creative professionals to be both graphic designers and technicians. It also leaves it up to them to bridge the gap between design conception and final reproduction.

A design’s destination (print, online, e-reader, and so forth) clearly determines how a file should be created. A document for print will have different resolution, color-space, and trim-and-bleed requirements, for example, than digital content for Web. Knowing the output intentions is important, but ensuring that digital files meet those specifications is equally as critical.

The bottom line is to follow the basic rules of print production and to check designs with FlightCheck when preflighting. A systematic check of files before sending them to printers is the best way to ensure print quality control for error-free output.

One of the easiest ways to save is to pay close attention to prepress expenses. The costs of film, direct-to-plate or creating PDF files for print are enormous. And when there is a problem resulting in the job to be re-printed the costs add up, exponentially. Preflighting with FlightCheck can save substantial time and money in the print workflow.

The printed word is a reliable format for reaching potential audiences. Creating eye-catching flyers and marketing material has been greatly enhanced by digital technologies. Page layout programs, such as QuarkXPress and Adobe InDesign, have helped streamline the design and production process, which involves acquiring materials, designing the piece and checking the integrity of the file before final print, as when preflighting with FlightCheck.

Preflighting with FlightCheck the design takes only moments. Those few seconds can save graphic professionals hours of misery fixing problems that show up after film or plates are created. The savings in time, labor, money and materials can be tremendous to marketers eager to get the message in the hands of potential new customers.

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