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Printing Terminology Guide

Bitmapped Art
Bitmapped art is created out of little dots of color For multi-colored, screen printed art bitmapped files such as .jpeg or .bmp will in most cases not be acceptable. Occasionally separations can be extracted but will incur art charges. For any bitmapped art whether 1 or multi-colored, the resolution must be at least 300 dpi.

Refers to areas that are printed over the dieline (cut edge). Background art should extend or “bleed” over the planned cut edge by 1/8”. An example product would be a business card magnet with a full color background.

Stands for “Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black,” which are the four process inks used in four-color process.

The image is depressed into a material such as paper, leather or metal, so the image sits below the product surface.

Decal transfer
The decal is printed on an offset or letterset press, submerged in water and placed on the product. Excess water and air is pressed out and the product is kiln-fired, fusing the decal with the glaze (e.g. bar ware, china, porcelain).

Molten metal is injected into the cavity of a carved die (a mold); similar to how a sculpture would be made (e.g. bookends, paperweight).

A method of producing emblems and other flat promotional products by striking a blank metal sheet with a hammer that holds the die.

Stands for “dots per inch” in some scanners and computer programs. Computers make art with little dots known as pixels. The dpi is the way to set picture resolution. The more dots in an inch, the higher the picture resolution. Images should be made at 300 dpi or higher. Smaller dpi will create an image that is ragged, stair-stepped, grainy or blurry when printed.

An object is suspended in a clear substrate (e.g. Lucite) for use as a paper weight, trophy, etc.

The raising of an image on a product by pressing the material between concave and convex dies.

A design stitched into fabric through the use of high-speed, computer-controlled sewing machines.

Cutting an image into metal, wood or glass by one of three methods - computerized engraving, hand tracing, or hand engraving.

Stands for “Encapsulated Postscript.” In most art programs EPS is a saving option, or at least an exporting option. Line and vector art files should be saved as EPS. People tend to forget to save their Illustrator files as EPS files thinking all Illustrator files are EPS. You actually need to turn EPS “on” in the save menu.

An image is covered with a protective coating that resists acid. The image is then exposed, leaving bare metal and protected metal. The acid attacks only the exposed metal, leaving the image etched onto the surface.

Four-Color Process
A method used to achieve a full range of colors, tints and gradations using only the four process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). Typically, a full color original photograph, drawing or other artwork is used to generate four separate printing plates, one for each of the process colors. When printed, the resulting image is composed of a myriad of microscopic dots comprised of the four colors. These tiny colored dots have varying sizing and spacing between them so they blend optically to produce (to the eye and brain of the viewer) a good approximation of the original full-color image.

Hot stamping
A dry imprinting process in which a design is set on a relief die, which is then heated and pressed onto the printing surface.

Stands for Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is designed for compressing either full-color or gray-scale images of natural, real-world scenes. It works well on photographs, naturalistic artwork and similar material. It does not work well on lettering or line drawings.

A company that creates promotional products, which are then shipped to distributors for sale to the public.

Offset lithography
A printing process in which the image is transferred to a rubber blanket, which in turn applies it to the surface to be printed.

Pad printing
A recessed surface is covered with ink. The plate is wiped clean, leaving ink in the recessed areas. A silicone pad is then pressed against the plate, pulling the ink out of the recesses, and pressing it directly onto the product.

This is the language that tells a computer and a printing device how to read your artwork. It treats images, including fonts, as collections of geometrical objects rather than as bitmaps. Postscript fonts are called outline fonts because the outline of each character is defined. They are also scalable fonts because their size can be changed with Postscript commands.

An image is transferred to the printed surface by ink, which is pressed through a stenciled screen and treated with a light-sensitive emulsion. Film positives are put in contact with the screens and exposed to light, hardening the emulsion not covered by film and leaving a soft area on the screen for the squeegee to press ink through. (Also called silk-screening.)

Spot Colors
Printing with spot colors uses any number of specific colored inks (rather than just CMYK) to match exactly each individual hue specified by the designer of a piece of artwork. Spot color inks are mixed according to formulas. This method is good for artwork with just a few colors. Otherwise, four-color process should be used.

Stands for Tagged Image File Format. The image is bitmapped art which is created out of little dots of color. Tiff files are good formats for scanning images, as long as the resolution is high enough.

Vector Art
This is art created in a vector-based program. Vector art consists of creating paths and points in a program such as Illustrator or Freehand. The program keeps track of the relationships between these points and paths. Vectors are any scalable objects that keep their proportions and quality when sized up or down. They are defined as solid objects. Vector art is great for type because the lines stay crisp at any scale.