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Silk Screen and Halftone dots

Apr 9, 2009 7:59 AM

What is the short answer to, "Can Illustrator allow the user to control the size of halftone dots?" Just to be clear, for silk screen, the dots must be course. I have read several posts on the subject and still there is no definitive answer. The PPD file has been loaded. The document is a CMYK. In the print menu the separation menu has only very fine settings available (The lowest is 56 lpi/300dpi) which if selected makes very little to no difference in the dot patterns.

 


     Just to reduce confusion, often a silk screen printer will try to get two colors for the price of one. The simplest example would be to get Black & Gray with one screen. If I set the Gray to 50% and the Black to 100%, still no change. If I use spot colors like PMS Cool Gray and Black, no change. Moving the files into Photoshop may work but fundamentally speaking PhotoShop in my opinion is for constant tone images or Photos, and it seems counter productive to add in a extra step (and software) to the work flow.

 


     I like to stick to the old K.I.S.S. motto. Keep It Simple Stupid. In this case less is better. Other software packages make this task a no brainer. I like Illustrator and have invested hundreds of hours learning and promoting it's virtues. When I was asked by a local shop how to do this task, I responded, (Oh I'm sure its just a setting that needs to be set.) Well, not so. So, Can I do this or do I need to tell my associate to keep using CorelDraw! 7...

 
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Apr 9, 2009 10:23 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    Hello Mojorocker1964,

     

    Adobe Illustrator gives the freedom to output the artwork at any LPI or DPI you wish (The Typical LPI for offset printing ranges from 85-133 lines per inch)

     

    The output of the image is control by the imagesetter (the machine that makes the negatives) and not by Illustrator , CorelDraw, Freehand, Xara Xtreme, etc. With native Adobe Illustrator artwork (meaning no image placing) you do not have to worry about LPI, DPI (Dots Per Inch) or resolution.

     

    Be aware that when you print the artwork, you will able to see the dots instead of a smooth screen. Specially if the files was output with a low LPI.

    See attached JPEG file to compare printed half tones with computer half tones (Output was 133 LPI)

     

    Sometimes is better to go with solid Pantone colors when you are printing t-shirts. But this type of questions you can have a better respond is your post at Design Forums - Print Design: http://forums.adobe.com/community/design_development/printdesign

     

    I hope this answer your question.

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    Apr 9, 2009 11:19 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    This has been a frustration I have with Adobe who created Postscript Level 3.  I remember using Illustrator 6 to output separations to my Postscript Level 2 inkjet ( 600dpi ) which results in 56 lpi screens that were inadequate at best because of the low printer resolution.  Screens are usually created in the RIP and, in the case of Illus 6, the RIP was built into the printer as a hardware RIP.  Very convenient.  I was able to print seps out of Quark, too.

     

    Now, I believe you need some kind of third party solution like Acrobat Pro or Photoshop.  Keep in mind, the silkscreen mesh determines what halftone frequency to use.  A 35 lpi screen is not unheard of.  I find Photoshop a little more flexible in that you can assign whatever frequency you want and assign the screen's dot shape and angle and, then, print 1-bit line art seps.  Otherwise, you're going to need a fairly expensive RIP application that can output dot-by-dot separations on your output device.  This, as far as I know, cannot be done in today's Illustrator.  Illustrator can print separations, but not dot shapes.

     
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    Apr 9, 2009 1:00 PM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    Hello Everybody,

     

    If you going to output from a laser printer, there are lot of factors at play.

     

    I have at home a 1200 DPI printer that comes with PPD driver that allows me to choose LPI (Now my printer is 5 or 6 years old, and I am using Ai CS3). You have to ask your self how old is the laser printer and the computer that the screen printer is using with a software that is from 1987. This can creates problems if the laser printer is not 100% compatible with the newest driver version.

     

    Then again, Illustrator does not have control of my LPI, is my printer and the PPD installed that actually determine the output of the artwork (see attached JPEG)

     

    Old versions of Illustrator and CorelDraw had this feature because the printer did not have any PPD software. Today, you have to see how much memory the Printer have, what level of Postscript, does it have the new USB3, etc.

     

    A 300-600 DPI laser printer can usually only print at an LPI of 50-65. Everything depends on what printer do you have.

     

    So do you know how old is the computer and printer?

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    Apr 10, 2009 4:52 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964
    So you can't control half tone dots in Illustrator.

    Print dialog>Output pane. Set Mode to Separations (Host based). You can set the halftone ruling, angle, and dot shape for each separation plate.

     

    JET

     
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    Apr 10, 2009 10:01 AM   in reply to JETalmage

    It's been my experience that when I assign those settings in Illustrator, it's up to the output device on whether to deliver or not.  I haven't been able to get my printer/RIP to give me a halftone dot, just a typical stochastic print.  This has been the case since I started using a software RIP, which in my case, is limited unless I go to Photoshop and print a 1-bit Black and White halftone dot there.

     
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    Apr 12, 2009 6:20 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    The haltone ruling settings in AI's print dialog are document-specific. So they are stored in the file. But they can, of course, be "ignored" or over-ridden by a particular printer's RIP. One common example: HP PostScript laser printers have an "enhanced resolution" mode (which effectively "overlaps" printer spots to simulate higher-than-actual resolution). If that feature is turned on, it over-rides whatever halftone ruling settings you make. Turn it off, and the printer abides by the custom ruling/angle/shape you enter in the dialog.

     

    CorelDraw is not the only drawing program that provides custom halftone settings. FreeHand (which Adobe now owns) provided object-level haftone settings for as long as I can remember. (My use of FreeHand dates back to version 2.0.)

     

    Time was, I could:

     

    1. Make object-level settings in FreeHand.

    2. "Print" the FH document to a color-separated PDF.

    3. Deliver the PDF to a local silkscreen shop.

    4. The silkscreen shop would print the PDF to a PostScript laser printer, using nothing but Reader. The output would reflect the object-level halftone settings I had applied.

     

    It's been a while since I monkeyed with it, but as I recall I was never able to get even page-level halftone settings to stick in a pre-separated PDF saved/printed from AI.

     

    Object-level hafltone settings have been requested in these forums for years.

     

    JET

     
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    May 11, 2009 8:10 PM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    Hi there,

    I've been reading your thread in the hopes someone would answer this question. I too am frustrated by the same problem. This used to be a simple matter in Freehand (illustrator's former rival) and it seems almost unbelievable that illustrator can't do it even in their latest version. In Freehand you could manipulate the screen frequency in the fill pallette. This you could do independently on separate elements within the same file no problem.

    If there's no answer out there, perhaps Adobe could work on this feature for their next version.

     
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    May 11, 2009 10:36 PM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    You can try something a little funky I tried it and it kind of worked for me, but you sort of need photoshop. I converted an image to a 1 bit bitmap and chose a halftone screen. Then I brought it into Illustrator and did a black and white live trace and expanded it then I applied an effect>Convert to shape ellipse and made the ellipse a circle it is a bit funky as you need to make or adjust the halftone so that it has no actual overlaps of the dots so you might have to do some retouching or manual replacement of the halftone dots that have been converted to an elliptical shape.

     

    I think because this is possible that a feature like this can be had with a little effort and with the user being aware it is not perfect and with a method of adjusting an image so that when converted to a half tone dot it actually creates overlapping dots based on a reading the user makes at a point where you want the dots to first start to overlap. That way when it is converted to elliptical dot it will have center points to guide it.

     

    i bet this could even be scripted.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    May 21, 2009 8:59 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    In the print dialog, set your printer, confirm your PPD, page and all of that.

    Change your print mode to separations, confirm your other settings...  The lower part of this dialog shows a list of spot and process colors, double clicking on any of these offers full customization. You can set it to whatever your printer will allow given the image setter's setting are set to receive them. As a general rule, it defaults to 60 , but 55lpi runs good on most 200-230-305 mesh screens , I drop it to 45 for 156mesh and 35 for 110's and lower.

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    Jun 8, 2009 1:14 PM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    Hello People,
    Firstly accept my appolagies... my english is not great, im a creative person lets ust leave it there ;-)
    OK Gradient or Halftones in AI for screen printing:
    i have been a graphic designer for many years and have had exposure to all sort of applications and i figured there must be some way and there is! i be gan my pusuit after blindly investing in screen printing equipment and jacking in my job.

    LETS START:

    * create a few squares in illustrator.
    * fill each of them Reg black ( the circle and cross hair in your swatches)
    * select each one in turn and change the "tint" colour of each one say 100%, 75%, 40 % and 20%. you will be able to see the difference on screen.. as roughly the desired effect.
    *now in the filter tab select (pixellate - colour half tone) the channels for this experiment can all be set to "0" appart from the bottom one. as this is "K" from the CMYK Pallet (black) and all it does is arrange the angle of the dots - 45 is good. by setting the number in the top option you can change the size of the dots. smaller number small dots.
    * click ok or apply and your design will be applied and turned dots
    if you want to take this one step further...???Scale the design up (be patient) go to the "object" menu - click "rasterrize" keep the quality high, like 300dpi.
    * then i know this is a little arse about face but bare with me...
    * now the object is no longer a vector your live trace option should be available (if not chnage your work space to basic and it should appear)
    * from the drop down select custom. now the fun begins and you will learn waht works best for you but. 1) ignor white 2) set all options on the right to "2" for corner angles etc .. etc.. 3) just play with the threshold slide bar and you will see the changes on screen if you have preview applied?
    finally
    * click expand.. now you have a fully fledged vector again.. in dots.. and scaleable...
    i know it takes a bit of getting used to but it worked for me! on a very basic 55t screen i managed to simulate 5 shades of blue WHAT A CHEAP SKATE lol... printed really well!
    i get so much help from these forums... i hope this helps someone else.
    Happy Dotting

     
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    Aug 7, 2009 9:21 PM   in reply to CaptureStudio

    I'm trying to use Illustrator CS2 to make a silkscreen label for a DVD.  The replicator company making the DVDs didn't have specific instructions for halftone resolutions (I don't think they had dealt with them before), so I decided I better make the dots myself rather than handing them a file with various transparency settings and hope they know what to do.  Other DVD/CD labels I found that had done halftones seemed to use 42 lpi, so something like that is my target.  I will just be giving them the Illustrator file, not printed masters for the screens, and my printer isn't postscript anyway, so all the PPD discussion don't help me.  But I read CaptureStudio's post with interest - it sounded very promising.

     

    But... it didn't work for me.  First of all, the Pixelate filters are only available after I rasterize.  Okay, so I rasterized my 25% opacity registration-black box (selecting grayscale as the method), and then selected Pixelate->Color-Halftone.  I left the top selection at the default 8 pixels (I think my document resolution is 350dpi, so that's just about right), changed the first three channels to zero (the fourth one was already 45 by default), and selected Transparent for the background.  I was surprised that the first three channels were even there, because in grayscale the C, M, and Y should not exist.  Anyway, I did that, and then zoomed in to see what it did.  But unfortunately the result was not black dots, but a strange gray texture pattern - nothing was black, white, or clear.  CaptureStudio, what version of Illustrator are you using?  Perhaps that is the difference.  Or perhaps I did something else wrong.

     

    I have Photoshop and the replicator will accept that, so I could move the file over there.  But unless there is a trick I don't know about, when I open an AI file in Photoshop just makes everything (all its layers, text, vector objects, etc.) all one raster glob, and seems to also add smoothing to the edges of my vector shapes - not best for trying to end up with clean spot-color data.  So if possible, I want to do what CaptureStudio suggested and stay in Illustrator, so that I have clean vector data for everything including the halftone dots.

     
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    Aug 8, 2009 12:34 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    Picture 2.png

    Rather than make use the transform filter you might want to look into filling the objects with a pattern swatch. Or make your own pattern swatch to give you the course screen you need. This would be object specific.

     
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    Aug 8, 2009 12:38 AM   in reply to PrepressPro1

    I've never made my own pattern - it sounds like a lot of work, but I could try.  But is it even possible to have a pattern that is part opaque (and whose color can be defined by a swatch) and part transparent?  The halftone screen I'm trying to create would have dots of color with no color between them (the silver of the DVD would show through).

     
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    Aug 8, 2009 1:17 AM   in reply to OsakaWebbie

    Hey Oska,
    - do you wanna send me the file and i will have a look?...
    ... is there a weblink to this file?

    i am busy at the moment but if it turns out its a simple one i will gladly do it for you, then tell you how

    regards

    Chris

     
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    Aug 8, 2009 1:35 AM   in reply to CaptureStudio

    ...Me again...

    This might nail it for you?
    http://vectips.com/tutorials/creating-halftone-effects/

    basically what i was trying to say

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 6:27 PM   in reply to CaptureStudio

    Sure, you can take a look (or anyone else can, for that matter).  I put the file I'm working on here: http://l4jp.com/misc/Purple_Label.ai.  There is a graphics link that will probably break, but it's okay - it's just an image of a shiny CD surface to use for getting an impression of what the transparent areas will look like when silkscreened on a DVD.

     

    What I'm trying to make halftone is the semi-transparent light purple background rectangle on the layer called Light Background.  The silkscreen color will be the dark purple (I'm permitted three silkscreen colors, which will be white, cream, and purple), but I think a screen of 25% coverage will make a pleasant background (I'm trying to match my case jacket, which has a light purple pattern as the background for the front face).  As I said in my last post, I'm aiming for a screen size similar to others I have seen, because I assume they would be coarse enough to not be a problem for the silkscreen - the others I have seen measured at about 42, but probably anywhere between 30 and 50 would be fine.  And if you succeed in making what you described, which is a lot of little vector circles, it would be scalable anyway.

     

    EDIT: I just noticed your second post with a link to a tutorial - I gotta run off to an event now, but I'll take a look when I get back and let you know if it helped.

     
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    Aug 8, 2009 7:31 AM   in reply to CaptureStudio

    Thanks - the tutorial didn't give me the answer directly, but I got enough clues to muddle the rest of the way.  The biggest clue was that for a vector object you need to select Effects->Pixelate, not Filter->Pixelate.

     

    At first I couldn't figure out a way to get a normal type halftone for any solid shade (only for gradients, which is not what I want in this case).  Changing the transparency doesn't work - when the effect is applied, nothing happens (it stays gray).  I figured out that instead you have to use the bar in the color palette (I don't know what it's called in English; my best translation of the Japanese would be "Color Strength Ramp" or something like that), which is imprecise - you can't set a number but must just click on it somewhere.  And if I did it for a shade of registration black (as you recommended in your description) and then set the first three channels to zero to force black, it gives me a weird pattern of dots.  If I leave the channels at their defaults I get all four colors in different places.  But if I use the simple black instead (0/0/0/100), make sure the "strength ramp" is set to grayscale, and click somewhere in the middle of it, it works (then it doesn't matter what the value of the first three channels are because those colors have no value).

     

    But I'm discovering that my document doesn't appear to have anywhere near the resolution that I assumed it did, and now that I look for a setting for it, I can't find it.  In the help file (the program itself is in Japanese, but I have a copy of the English help file, which is a great relief), it says that I can set various rasterization options for the document, including resolution, but it doesn't actually say what menu item or palette to use to find those settings.  Can someone point me in the right direction for that?

     

    Then I traced according to the instructions.  I thought that if I played around with the Simplify Path settings after expanding the trace I could convince it that I have circles, but it doesn't believe me.  I can get close, though.  Finally I had to fight a bit with selection and the Ungroup command before I could get it to a state where I could select only the background to remove it (because I want my background transparent, not white).

     

    So it would appear that it can be done (with a little dip on the top of all my circles due to the imperfect path), and I suppose that I could do this again with a really really big square in order to get around the raster effects resolution problem.  But if someone has a clue about the resolution setting (and/or how to force perfect circles or closer to them), please let me know.

     
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    Aug 9, 2009 8:36 AM   in reply to CaptureStudio

    I finally found the Document Rasterization Settings and increased the resolution, and increased the size of the object I start with to make the halftone.  But if I try using a resolution higher than 300dpi, or I try using an object bigger than a certain size, I get: "An error occurred while managing the object appliance" (or something like that).  No doubt some sort of memory error.  But I was able to find a sweet spot - a size of object that was small enough to produce halftones instead of an error but big enough to give me enough dots for my desired 40 lpi screen on a 5-inch DVD.  Interestingly, using the same 20 pixel size of halftones, each time I do a trace it makes the circles a little bit different - one time they looked perfect, but I didn't have enough dots yet so I had to say goodbye to that set.  What I ended up with is reasonable - at least each circle is made from only two path points, so the amount of data is as small as possible.  Another weird thing is that although the halftone channel 4 was set to 45 the whole time (presumably that should make the lines at a 45 degree angle), at least the final time (I didn't notice until afterwards) it actually made the lines straight instead, so I had to rotate the final group of dots 45 degrees - fortunately a DVD is round, so I didn't have a coverage problem doing that.

     

    I'm getting an urge to buy a faster computer - everything moves way slower when you add about 5000 circles to your image!

     
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    Aug 11, 2009 1:28 PM   in reply to OsakaWebbie

    I run the prepress department at a replicator in the Midwest.  When I create films for printing I have InDesign set to choose the linescreen and the shape of the dots for each color.  I have decided on the particular dot size, angle, and shape after years of painstaking research. I would be uncomfortable having a client create their art with the halftone dot built in since that could cause some serious clashing with my screens and our presses. 

     

    I don't understand why this would be left up to you?  I feel that this is something your printer should be doing.  Your part is designing the art.  Our part is creating the films/screens and printing it for you.

     

    -an

     
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    Aug 11, 2009 4:20 PM   in reply to vlaming01

    The reason is because when I went to the replicator to ask various questions, one of them was whether they could do a screen like that at all - I took a CD with me that had a halftone screen and showed it to the guy.  He scratched his head, called someone else to ask, then took it in the back room to show to someone else (presumably a manager?).  He came back saying that they could do it, but he still didn't sound confident.  So I said maybe I should include what I want in the artwork itself (I thought it would be easier than it has been), and he seemed relieved.

     

    But reading your post, I'm thinking I'll try asking the question again by phone (I went there in person the first time, partially because building relationships face-to-face is important here in Japan and partially because I wanted to show them things instead of trying to describe them in Japanese and listen to their answers by phone, which is a challenge for me), or perhaps I'll have the time to visit them again while I'm still in the preparation phase - I won't need to turn the job in to them until late September.  If I knew the exact term for halftone screen in Japanese, I could probably ask more precisely, but I only recently even learned it in English!  And I still don't even know in English the term for what you get if you assign a spot color in Illustrator but then reduce the transparency (so you have a purple color but it looks lavender if the background is white).  The result I want is a purple halftone screen of about 25% coverage on a transparent background (i.e. the DVD disk color shows through), and if I can get that result by handing them an Illustrator file with a region that is 25% opaqueness purple, that would be definitely easiest.  I'll ask again somehow - thanks for your input as someone in the business.

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 1:52 AM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    What a huge topic!

    I have used Illustrator to output seps for screenprinting t-shirts since V.7 and never had a problem. I do full colour cmyk prints and spot colour/halftone prints. I set the screen angles, frequency and dot shape in the print dialogue. If you're printing through a 120t mesh use a 52 line screen for the black - or lower frequency for lower mesh count. I think the rule is one and a half threads per dot.

    As I say, I've done it for years, both for hand printing and auto and won many awards for it. Never had anything we couldn't sort in illustrator.

    Your laser printer might be the issue.

    One other thing: you are going to loose the tone in the top 10-20% of your half tone and get dot gain in the bottom 10-20%. There is not a lot you can do about that other than push the levels in your art to allow for it. The amount of dot you gain/loose depends on squeegee sharpness and durometer, mesh count, emulsion thickness, machine pressure, fabric quality and if its printed on a friday arvo or monday morning - neither of the latter are good.

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 2:56 AM   in reply to RogerPaine
    What a huge topic!

    Yes, this has been a good discussion, both before I leaped in and after.  I love learning!

     

    Perhaps if I talk to the right person at the replication shop (whoever actually does the setup for printing the silkscreen disk labels) I might discover that he has a printer driver (and therefore a print dialogue) that has all the needed options to do the screen the way that works best for his equipment - if so, then I'm happy to leave it alone and let him do his thing.  But since the physical replication of the DVDs isn't even done in Japan (the factory is in Taiwan, I think, because overhead is cheaper), the printing may be done there as well, so I might never meet the actual silkscreen guy.

     

    My lack of Postscript printer isn't really related because I won't be printing anything myself - all I have to do is give the replicator my Illustrator file, as long as my text is outlined and my graphics not linked.  I was surprised that they don't even care if the objects in the different colors are separated by layer or not - I sort of assumed they would want me to give them a file with all the white on one layer, all the purple on another, and all the yellow on another, but the guy who talked to me said it doesn't matter to them (of course that was also the guy who wasn't sure if they could do halftone or not).  I'm getting more and more curious to ask them again, but this week is the second biggest holiday time of the year in Japan, so they are probably closed for a few days.

    One other thing: you are going to loose the tone in the top 10-20% of your half tone and get dot gain in the bottom 10-20%. There is not a lot you can do about that other than push the levels in your art to allow for it. The amount of dot you gain/loose depends on squeegee sharpness and durometer, mesh count, emulsion thickness, machine pressure, fabric quality and if its printed on a friday arvo or monday morning - neither of the latter are good.

    If I understand you correctly, you're saying that if the opacity setting for an area of color is low but not zero (10-20%), or high but not 100% (80-90%) then the size of the dots or holes ends up too small for the screen to do smoothly, right?  That makes a lot of sense.  Thanks for the advice - I'll avoid those levels, and I'm sure that others who read this thread will appreciate the tip as well.

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 5:37 AM   in reply to OsakaWebbie

    We use InDesign to create our films.  We simply place your Illustrator file in an InDesign template, add crop marks and color names and send the file to our rip.  We have a standard set of instructions for our halftones.  Our dots are elliptical and each color is set to a certain angle so they don't interfere with one another.  After we have films we create the screens from those.

     

    Our films are created at 100 lpi for solids and some spot color halftones and 133lpi for full color prints and some intricate spot color halftones.  I believe everything gets shot on screens using a 385 mesh.  We get great results and for this type of printing I wouldn't go any lower. 

     

    As far as setting up the art.  I wouldn't go any lower than 20%.  Our halftones get very spotty around 15% and lower.  If you're printing on the silver of the disc keep in mind this is fairly distracting so I would make the halftone even darker.  A silver disc with a 25% purple halftone will just look silver with a purple hue.  Also keep in mind that any time you have a screen printed halftone you will be able to see the little dots that make up that halftone.

     

    You also mentioned a custom white.  I would make very clear to your replicator which parts of the disc you want white.  I usually have artists assign a special color to the areas that need to print white and name that color "custom white ink" or something like that.  I also would name a background color "silver of the disc" just so there cannot be any confusion.  I'm pretty good at deciphering what people want but it's always nice to have extra instructions.

     

    I hope this helps.  If you have any questions or would like me to look over your art please feel free to send it over.  I can't imagine a prepress department in Japan or Taiwan can be that much different than mine, right?  Maybe?  I also have our printing specs available in a pdf format if you would like those.

     

    - an

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 7:44 AM   in reply to OsakaWebbie

    So, are you telling us the Screen Printer (replicator) is not providing some sort of Proof to show you what the your art files will look like when printed? Seems to me when I was doing screen printing I would request a color key (acetate with each color separation on each overlay) or other proof offered by the printer in question. You might want to ask this replicator what Proof options he offers, preferably an analog proof which will show the actual dot structure to be printed. Otherwise you're kinda' flying blind and left to the tender mercy of the replicator.

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 7:49 AM   in reply to PrepressPro1

    It's actually pretty difficult to show what a printed silver disc will look like on white paper.  We only offer pdf proofs, printed color proofs as well but no guarantee on color accuracy.  I would ask for samples though if they have those to offer. 

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 8:01 AM   in reply to vlaming01

    I think the OP's main question was halftone dot. Well, it's not the OP, but the continued thread is concerned with dot. Do you provide a PDF which shows separations and dot? I am merely suggesting the non-OP in Japan, find out what the options are for proofs, and if the proof will satisfy the need to see the dot size, angle, and structure which will be printing on the disk. I understand you can't always show the substrate and how it effects the printing in a proof.

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 8:06 AM   in reply to PrepressPro1

    Oh absolutely.  I think at this point I would be nervous about what will be printing.  If they have some samples they should present them to show their dot structure and how they print on a silver disc.

     

    We usually only provide a composite color pdf proofs.  I have found presenting clients with separations only confuses them.  Normally my clients are the purchasers rather than the artists themselves.  We also offer samples of what we have printed in the past and do offer check discs to see what the art will look like printed on the disc. 

     
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    Aug 12, 2009 8:32 AM   in reply to vlaming01

    Well now, that sounds all to logical and reasonable.

    Thanks vlaming01

     
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    Aug 13, 2009 12:47 AM   in reply to PrepressPro1

    Wow, you guys have been having quite a conversation while I was sleeping!  I'll address a few comments here and there:

    A silver disc with a 25% purple halftone will just look silver with a purple hue.

    That's exactly the effect I'm after - I'm hoping it will look cool.

    Also keep in mind that any time you have a screen printed halftone you will be able to see the little dots that make up that halftone.

    Yes, I know.  As idea-starters I have been looking at CDs/DVDs that I own that have been silkscreened, and I decided to pursue a semi-transparent halftone because I like how it looked in someone else's design (in that case it was blue rather than purple, and I don't know what percentage coverage, but I'm trusting my imagination to take me the rest of the way).  That halftone was about 42 lpi, and I could even see how small text looked on it, so I would be happy with anything at least that fine or finer.  I also ran across a label whose whole background was a halftone gradient between completely tan and completely black, and all the "foreground" elements like text and logos were the clear silver - the halftone was only 25 lpi, no doubt to try to improve the quality of the dots in the low percentages.  Whoever designed it probably thought it was nice-looking, but I didn't - not only isn't the gradient very smooth, but although transparent text on the black or almost black areas were easily readable, to read the stuff that is in the mostly tan areas I had to tilt the disk to reflect more light.  Frankly, the only halftones I really like in the examples I have seen are ones with only one color - when they try to blend two inks by making the screen angles different, it doesn't look as clean to me.  Plus, I simply like the look of utilizing the silver - it's an effect unique to silkscreen on CD/DVD disks, not found in offset labels or silkscreen on other materials.

    You also mentioned a custom white.

    Not really a custom white - the replicator's literature about what is included with replication said "silkscreen in three colors (counting white) or offset" - actually at the moment I can't find where it said "counting white", so perhaps I can choose my own three colors, but whatever I read originally seemed to say that one of my three colors had to be white, so I was designing based on that assumption.

     

    I'm using spot colors for everything in my Illustrator file, so it should be very clear to the replicator what objects should be what color.  I really wish the swatches in Illustrator would actually control the color of the instances that use them, like swatches and styles in InDesign work, but unfortunately when I experiment with changing the swatch to a different shade, I have to then select each object one at a time and tell it to use the swatch again - cumbersome.

    I also would name a background color "silver of the disc" just so there cannot be any confusion.

    Currently my background layer is simply transparent, and for my own visualization the next layer has an image of a shiny CD surface that I found on the internet - I turn that layer on when I want to see a fake idea of how the shiny silver will look with the rest of my design.  A link to a old copy of my Illustrator file is in post #19 of this thread, and here is a JPG of how it looks with the fake shiny background image (the content on my label has progressed since those files was made, but the color ideas are roughly the same).

    So, are you telling us the Screen Printer (replicator) is not providing some sort of Proof to show you what the your art files will look like when printed?

    I don't know - I didn't ask whether the prepress work is being done at their small facility here in town or in Taiwan.  I'm smarter now, so next time I talk to them I'll ask.

    It's actually pretty difficult to show what a printed silver disc will look like on white paper.

    I agree - that's why I put that image in my Illustrator file so that I could simulate the effect a little.  I know that proofs on paper will look different, and that even my simulation is not real, but I'm doing my best to imagine the end result, and I'm not all that picky as look as it looks nice and the text is readable.  One challenge is that my logo (whose real colors are totally different - see my PR page for both the logo and the jacket design with which I'm trying to coordinate) modified for use on the label has both white and purple in it, so the semi-transparent shade needs to be sufficiently distinguishable from both such that the logo shows up nicely.

     

    Also, the song titles are currently white, but I'm flexible - they could be purple, silver (i.e. completely transparent), or cream - whatever would show up well.  I chose white because I noticed on other examples in my music collection that when text is a solid version of one of the colors involved in a halftone background (which in this case would apply to both purple and transparent silver), the dots touching the edges of the text made it look sloppy and a little hard to read.  For the logo it's unavoidable because I need multiple colors, but the song title text is only one color, so I thought white would be safest.

     

    By the way, I also plan to make the DVD logo and other things I add on the left transparent, not white as you see the DVD logo now.  I'm waiting until the last minute to combine the paths with the purple area to make that happen, because after I do that, moving those items around or changing their size would be difficult or next to impossible.

    I have found presenting clients with separations only confuses them.

    I wouldn't be surprised.  But in my case I am the client and the artist, so I would fully understand separations.

    We also offer samples of what we have printed in the past and do offer check discs to see what the art will look like printed on the disc.

    My replicator offers a full-service check disk if I want to pay for it, including not just the label but the data as well (the first disk pressed from the glass master), but it costs $60, adds significantly to the turnaround time (it is made in Taiwan, of course), and the guy said that most clients don't opt for it unless they have a really big run (mine is only 1000 copies, so I'm in the very small category).

     

    Thanks to both of you for all the great conversation!

     
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    Jul 16, 2010 8:07 AM   in reply to OsakaWebbie

    quick illustrator tip!

    LEARN TO USE AND RECORD ACTIONS! this will save you time on every job! You can separate colours, halftones and output in about 30 seconds flat.

     
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    Apr 18, 2013 3:51 PM   in reply to Mojorocker1964

    I believe the KEY element to all of this is to FIND A PRINTER WHO IS NOT a money grubbing, "I'm going to make this PMS or whatnot into FIVE DIFFERENT colours instead of ONE using varying gradients..." I've found a wonderful printer who actually despite me working as a graphic designer in a medium sized print shop...schooled me WELL into DOT GAIN, etc inter alia...so, finding a printer who is willing to actually share with you is PARAMOUNT to foregoing all the BS that can occur if you happen to get printer who is a total wanker. Init? Aight. I'm out.

     
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    Apr 18, 2013 10:25 PM   in reply to Randall Chettleburgh

    I don't think that printers are necessarily "money Grubbing" particularly. I would suggest probably, if anything they’ve become LAZY and DUMB. I strongly believe that since this topic was first raised in April 2009 (4 years ago) the whole printing and pre-press industry has been so dumbed down to the point where a true "craftsman" now days is hard to find. We’re all being forced to go with 'standard'. Many have surrendered to the whole 'push-button-buy-off-the-shelf/McDonalds' kind of mentality — there’s no skill any more.

    To a large extent the demands made by the average customer have driven this phenomenon and a big part of that revolves around cost. Probably because so much of what we consume today is produced in China, much of which is utter CRAP I might add. So that's what the market has come to expect. People want everything yesterday and don’t want to give anything any real serious thought.... until suddenly there’s a problem.

     

    I have a customer who complained that there was something wrong with their logo which I designed for them and supplied as a.jpg (that's what they wanted at the time — probably so they could use it in a Word document and print it off on their office inkjet). Problem was it printed out a different colour with every different printer they took it to – from business cards to large scale signage, etc, etc. all on different substrates using different inks. Of course they didn’t tell me that’s what they were going to do, but they rang me months later to complain about the problems they were having with their logo. None of the printers wanted to take responsibility or could explain what the problem was. Of course, it was all the designer's fault (me) because that’s what the printer told them. What a LAZY, DUMB answer! Just covering their butts no doubt. I explained how the problem was related to how each different print device is calibrated slightly differently, resulting in the variations in colour she was seeing. She didn't want to know about all that. In her opinion the whole printing industry should have more fool-proof systems that guarantee more consistent results. I advised her to make sure she always took a colour sample for them to match to, so they can adjust their equipment accordingly.

     

    I find it inconceivable that a printer’s first response is that there’s something wrong with the artwork — they all worked from the same piece of artwork but with all different results! Printers aren’t skilled craftsmen like they used to be. They’re just copy machine operators with no real understanding. (This doesn’t apply to any SKILLED craftsmen reading this)

     

    Sorry if I was ranting...

     
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    Apr 19, 2013 6:51 AM   in reply to Dave McGregor

    Hi! Dave, I was NOT at all lumping all printers together, just like

    everything in life you get good and bad...honest and dishonest..and I

    believe some (the one I've worked for for over 20 now, I KNOW for a fact

    increases cost by about 700 percent write up....even with me, my wedding

    invitations which I designed he screwed me LOLOL...anyway you're totally

    right...and I thank you for your honesty, insight and good nature.

     

    PEACE BRO

     

    Randall

     
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    Apr 19, 2013 7:02 AM   in reply to Dave McGregor

    Oh, and you're NOT ranting bro, you're telling it like it is and I could

    NOT agree with you more..seriously...you're so right skill is secondary,

    like mastering an instrument, now there are a bevy of DAW's, VSTI's

    synthesizers for the computer, which I have a TON of, but I know music,

    and there  in lies the difference what I look at as a TOOL, many look at

    as the be all end all..if that makes sense....so I UNDERSTAND what

    you're saying and it's profound and very, very true....maybe it will set

    us free? PEACE and HONEST GRAPHIC DESIGN..... BRO...

    Randall

     
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