Lines and Fills

  • Hairlines: Some applications have a line thickness that is called “hairline”. Never use this, always stick to a specific width, e.g. 0.25 points. The problem with hairlines is that they are imaged as the finest possible line on any given device. This may be fine on a 300 dpi laserprinter but a 1 pixel wide line on a 2400 dpi imagesetter is hardly visible. Don’t count on this workaround and avoid hairlines entirely. The smallest linewidth you can use depends on the press, paper, speed,… As a general rule, never make a line smaller than 0.2 points.
  • Total ink coverage: Depending on the paper stock, the type of printing process and the press itself, your printer can specify a certain ‘total ink coverage’ (TIC). This is the maximum amount of ink that any object on a page should contain. For example: if the TOC is 280, you can have objects on the page that contain 70 percent of cyan, magenta, yellow or black but a mixture of 100 percent cyan, 100 percent magenta, 50 percent yellow and 50 percent black has a TOC of 300 which is too much and will lead to smudging on the press.
  • Solid colors: Avoid large areas of solid black ink which can be very difficult to print. Digital presses tend to have a problem with any large area that contains a solid color.
  • Colorize thin lines: Don’t colorize thin lines (e.g. < 1/2 point) in 2 or more process colors.
  • Blends: Some people create blends in PhotoShop instead of using Illustrator or QuarkXPress. While PhotoShop blends with a little noise added to them can give better output on PostScript level 2 devices, this is no longer the case with PostScript 3 rips.