Every designer will tell you that designing for print is a whole different thing. I go a bit further and say that it is practically a different career. There are a lot of tricks and details that need to be learnt, otherwise we expose ourselves to end up with hundreds of unusable leaflets lying on our desk, or with a very upset client screaming on our phone.
When printing artwork that has black in it, it is important to know that there are certain differences between what you see on your screen and what will come out of the printer.
CMYK vs RGB
As I am sure you already know, when you design for Print, you will have to use the four colour CMYK process. This stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK, whilst RGB is Red, Green, Blue. Most of the tutorials that can be found on the web in this regard talk about Photoshop settings, but since I am an Illustrator fanatic (I strongly believe that Photoshop is for photo editing and drawing and Illustrator for designing), I will explain it in Illustrator.
The first thing is always creating a new document. If the design is for web, use the Web Profile, select the size of your artboard (or change it later, it is not important), and it will go to RGB automatically, with a screen resolution of 72 ppi, which is enough to be displayed on the screen correctly. If you increase the resolution, you will get bigger images in terms of size, but on the screen the maximum resolution will be 72 ppi so you will just be adding compression to your files or making them bigger unnecessarily, and as we know, if you work on web, size matters.
On the other hand, if you will design something that needs to be printed, get started with the Print profile, and you will get CMYK as your Colour Mode and a resolution of 300 ppi, which is the minimum needed to get a good quality printing.
The default black in Illustrator when working on a RGB canvas will be R=0 G=0 B=0 (because in RGB, being an additive colour model, black is the absence of light), but if you translate the same black to CMYK in your color tab you won't get a pure black.
So, if you are working for your Print project from a RGB file, you might encounter issues later. Let's say, for example, that you are working in your RGB file, with your default black in RGB 0/0/0. And someone send you the art to be placed on a black background, but with the a 0/0/0/100 black on it. If you print this, you will be able to see the colour difference. If you are very lucky it might look as it was done on purpose, but believe me, most of the times, it looks clearly as a mistake.
How to avoid this issue?
It is quite simple actually. All you need to do is be aware of the different blacks that are involved in the game. We already discussed the RGB black, let's talk about CMYK.
CMYK is a substractive colour model, so you can get black adding colours to the mix. Here you have two ways of obtaining black when printing:
One is with only black ink at 100%, and the other one is with all the inks at 100%. There is no right or wrong here, so the use of one or another will mostly depend on what will be done with the artwork. (i.e. Newspaper ads will probably have different requirements than regular printers). But one thing is certain: the first option (only K=100%) is not as rich as the second.
So, if you drag the colour to the corner, you will get a richer black:
As you can see, the black obtained in this way is not 100% all the colours. In this case, the addition of the inks will amount to a 300% TIC (Total Ink Coverage) which is obtained by adding up the values of each ink. The ideal value for this varies from one designer to another, but most people recommend that the highest value should be around 250%, so C40 M30 Y30 K100 is a rich and safe black to use. You are using less ink in this way, and it should dry faster (although this is probably not our problem!).
For example, Jim Dittmer, who has worked in this area for many years, explains:
"The "blackest black" available depends entirely on what kind of printing process is being used. While it is true that one can get a deeper black than 100%K, the actual formula depends on what the allowable DMax for the printing press is. Assuming that the press house conforms to one of the common standards, the CMYK formula might be:
95,85,85,85 For a sheetfed press with a coated stock
75,68,67,90 For a Web press (SWOP standard) with a coated stock
55,45,48,69 For a Newspaper
These are just a few of the hundreds… maybe thousands… of possible press situations. And, of course, the quality and type of paper makes a huge difference also. Best to check with your printer for the specific press/paper combination.
But this doesn't really answer the question because typically someone looking to make the deepest, richest black is talking about a solid tint- often with type being knocked out of it. There are at least 2 issues to take into account here. First is maximum ink coverage, and second is the integrity of the type.
Typically, a Black flat tint (a background, for example) will be something like this:
These formulas provide a strong, rich black. Note that all use 100% black and work for almost any printing situation. There's a reason for that and it relates to the second issue…
Type integrity. In order to have sharp, well defined type, you need the primary background color to be solid. In this case the black. A 90% black will result in rough looking type. This effect is exacerbated if the type is trapped (as it should be). With a solid, 100% black, the type is sharp and clear… especially when trapped!
The reason we don't use even higher percentages in the CMY has to do with ease of printing. Large expanses of very heavy ink coverage is problematic during printing. It can smear, bubble, and take too long to dry.
So, use 60,40,40,100 for those Black backgrounds!"
Not an obvious website, but once you get the trick it can be very useful. Besides the community based palette database, you can also find a lot of different helpful resources.
4. Color Combos
In this website you can upload your own picture and you will get a colour palette based on the image. It's quite useful actually.
To feel relatively safe when I start drawing, I need around me more erasers than pencils. I usually go with three erasers and one pencil, actually.
The paper seems like the least of our problems, but believe me, it will amount to much at the end. The selection of paper greatly depends on what you are planning to do later with your artwork, and how much water you will need to achieve it. You will find a wide range of brands, types and weights, and this can be quite confusing but it's actually not that complicated.
You will need hundreds of sheets of multi-purpose paper for all kind of doodles. It's cheap, they sell it everywhere, you can contraband it from your office in small packs. It represents no pressure whatsoever, and if you make an ugly thing just throw it away and start over. When you are in the very beginning, I recommend this over a sketchbook, it was too much pressure for me and I ended not drawing at all because I didn't want to ruin my gorgeous new sketchbook with my ugly doodles. My friends never had this problem though...
But! this won't work for heavy painting, since it's fragile and for something that will require hours of dedication, even if it's a pencil drawing, I suggest a thicker stronger sheet of a good brand.
1. a set of markers
2. a good pencil case
This is the sturdy long-lasting version. Plus, you can't go wrong with Derwent: this will fit most of your drawing utensils and keep them protected. It's is cheap, thoughtful, and you could add a little bonus (filling it up with brand new toys, for example!)
Price: around $15
3. MORE SPACE
They have a table tops and legs combination with lots of options and prices.
4. a second monitor (or one huge widescreen monitor!)
If your beloved one uses any graphic software (Adobe, Autodesk, Corel, etc...) he/she is probably struggling with the workspace. A second monitor (even a cheap one) is always a source of happiness and helps with the multitasking. Specially if you want to watch your favourite series while you work :) If you are not a two monitor person, a huge one will do.
Price: from $50 to infinity and beyond.
5. a beautiful drawing tablet
If one is already owned, they will appreciate one newer and better. If it is not owned, it is surely desired. Check out the Wacom website so you can choose the best for your budget. There are other brands, even some new chinese cheaper brands, but in this case I am a Wacom fan and the alternatives are not that much cheaper, so my recommendation is to stick to the brand.
Price: from $40 (the basic Bamboo tablet) to $2000 (the awesome Cintiq that allows you to draw directly in it). The Intuos is a good option, not as basic as the Bamboo, very gorgeous, around $100 depending on the version you get.
6. this amazing anatomy book
A different concept, a compilation of over 100 modern artists presenting their personal styles for the human body. Featuring people like Kim Jung Gi, Joe Mad, Loish, and Justin Rodriguez.
Price: $60 if you are in USA, to $100 rest of the world
7. A personal project for a rainy sunday
They are adorable. They are cheap. They are fun. They are unisex. It's the perfect gift for that restless creative mind that just doesn't want to start working right away. It's a DIY blank vinyl toy that allows you to create your own toon. I got one and it was so much fun! You can complement this gift with a nice set of acrylics to get them started. It's called Munny, from Kidrobot. There are different shapes and sizes, and you could buy them already painted if you want.
Price: $15 for the usual (smaller) size.
8. a couple of great graphic design or illustration courses
We never stop learning. You can find a lot of things on the web, and sometimes you can even find something quite useful. A couple of courses, or even better, a subscription for learning in Tuts+ is a great way to say to that meaningful half: "I want you to be better so I can work less".
Price: $15 for each course
9. a cool artist backpack
Of course, you need to be a pro to carry this around. It fits a 17" laptop and a Wacom pad, and it's the perfect gift for the urban digital artist.
Price: $90 (it doesn't include the laptop or the Wacom)
If you want to marry an artist, this could be your wedding ring. I bet that this artist won't even care about your age or gender. This is the jubilee cabinet created by Faber-Castell on their 250 years anniversary. It's pure awesomeness, it has pencils, watercolour pencils, pastels, pastel pencils, drawing pencils, brushes, etc. "The better your tools, the better your work" someone says. In this case, it must be true.
Of course that there are cheaper options, with lower quality and smaller amount of components, aimed specially to beginners and explorers. For example:
Royal & Langnickel have very nice products, nice quality and finish.
Christmas on Crack
One starry night
Christmas Card II
Enjoy them! And remember to follow me on Facebook to get more useful resources :)
Just go to https://www.facebook.com/vanesaurus and click Like!
By Digital Arts, they teach with great attention to detail how to create an image as the one created by Serbian illustrator Becha. The files for the project are included.
By tuts+. They teach you how to create the lomo effect, they include the source files and the actions, it's quite easy and the result is awesome.
By Creative Bloq. It shows how to correct little details in photographies that make a great difference in the final result. You experiment with one image but the process can be applied to any photo you have.
By tuts+. The hard part is done: drawing the robot. Now, how can you make it realistic? A good texture is always the best way to go. This tutorial will show you how to apply these textures successfully. It includes the textures, which you can keep and use for your own projects.
By Abduzeedo. Here you can learn a quick way to obtain an instagrammed effect for your images. Sometimes, #nofilter is just not the way to go.
By tuts+. This is advanced material, but the process teaches us a thing or two regarding illumination techniques and selections.
By Wegraphics. This effect looks awesome, although it must be applied correctly to achieve this toy town effect. Specially recommended for blog entries!
By Digital Arts. A good illumination is probably the most important thing in a photography. This tutorial will show you how to take advantage of the tools to achieve dramatic graphic effects.
By Photoshopessentials. This is an easy effect and it gives a nice romantic quality to certain images. In any case, use wisely.
By Digital Arts. Learn how to achieve this ethereal effect through the use of brushes and inserted elements.
top 5 free sites
The quality of the photos in this website is amazing. The photos can be downloaded for free and used for personal and commercial projects, but the authors usually request attribution.
It's not easy to find a specific image, but the overall quality of the graphics is amazing. All the images are completely free to use, since they have no copyright and are under CC. We must thank these great photographers for offering their work to the world.
This is a selected collection of free images from various sources. Usually the authors request attribution, but it's specified.
Ryan McGuire offers his photos to the world under CC to be used for personal and commercial projects. The resolutions are huge and the quality is superb, but it doesn't have index or search box, so you will have to scroll for a while. Most of the images are quite quirky and fun.
In this site the photographers submit their own work and can be used under CC for personal and commercial use, but author attribution is needed. It has a search box, categories and editor's pick. Awesome photos.
top 5 paid sites
One of the best websites for downloading photos, in my opinion, thanks to the awesome filters they have and the strict quality policy they have to upload images.
Great collection, great search filters, also a good option to get excellent images. Also, slightly cheaper than the rest. Also, quite a collection of small resolution freebies.
It's a great website, it has plenty of search options.
It's one of the best options out there, also quite a large collection of trusted images
Superb quality, great search.