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Question about professional production of printed material

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Anonymous

I have a question -- actually a bunch of them -- about printing components for games.

1. One of the components of my game is a paper map with hexes on it (like a wargame). As the basis of this map, I used standard blank hex grid .gif that was easy to find online. I then used this .gif file as the basis for a map I created in a graphics program. Here is the problem: although the image looks great on a PC monitor, it looks very "jagged" when printed.

I compared a sample segment of the map I printed to an existing boardgame design that I own. It's clear that the hexes are much finer and "crisper" on the professional product.

I realize that this is somewhat of a technical question, but how is this achieved? Do professional game companies design their products in a super high resolution or is there another method that is used? The map I created is 1:1 ratio, meaning I did not need to resize it in any way prior to printing. The rest of the map looks great, it's just that the hexes are way too grainy and jagged.

2. I have some game components (mostly rulebooks and such) that I am considering for production. Is there a standard media format that this material needs to be submitted to the printer on? I know some professional studios use QuarkXPress, but that is over 1,000 for the CD. Will printers accept material in .pdf or some other format? Does anyone here have experience in working with a print shop? If so, what tips can you share?

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about professional production of printed material

A couple of quick responses before I crash, more tomorrow if need be.

Yes, professionally printed products use very high resolution images, and in the case of something like hexes, often use vector art ("drawn" lines instead of pixels) for thing that need to be extra crisp like that. At a minimum you'd want your raster art (like a gif, though gif is a bad file format for it) at 200 dpi, and better yet 300dpi. 300dpi will allow for a "line screen" of 150lpi, which is a professional printing level (though some German games use a higher line screen).

PDF is the most common format in professional printing today, yes. Unfortunately if you're talking about color stuff, you're quite limited in what you can do with "lower-end" applications. Still, yes, PDF is a good way to go.

There's a ton to professional design and printing -- I've spent many years learning it. Not unlike most other professions, sure, you can do it yourself, but if you don't want to spend a ton of money on problematic or failed print jobs you're going to have to learn a ton. It's the same reason that, though I used to fix my 1970's cars, today I take my computer-controlled fuel-injected one-solid-mass-of-components car to a professional: my time is better spent on the stuff I know how to do well.

And welcome to the site!

-- Matthew

Anonymous
Question about professional production of printed material

Like Matthew said, you definitely want your art to be 300dpi for the professional printing process. I've had a lot of luck sending TIFs to the printer personally - you may need to buy a fancier graphics package to generate them versus PDFs but the resulting production of a 300 dpi TIF is very good.

Jayhubbard
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about professional production of printed material

Hi guys

With regards to printing, firstly the minimum spec an image should be is 300 dpi, but I would go as high as 600 dpi. Any artwork that has been done tradtionally, ie not on a computer should be scanned in at a minimum of 1200 dpi. I would scan any photographs at a minimum of 400-600 dpi.

Also remeber that all artwork produced on a computer should be done in CYMK and not RGB if its going to go to a professional printer. RGB is ok if you're printing a prototype at home.

All of this I have learent over that years working as a Graphic Designer and Archaeological Illustrator, its been a case of trial and error with regards to drawn artwork, but 1200 dpi is best for that particular medium. I would tend to go upto 600 as a minimum for all artwork, this does push up the file size, but the end product will have a better finish.

cheers Jason

jpfed
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Question about professional production of printed material

If you can afford it, you might want to supply the printer of your choice with a small file with a collage of a few representative images in it. Then, you can compare the output of the small file with what you see on your monitor, and determine whether you need any adjustments to be made to your images before sending them to the printer.

I've only had a few print jobs done for me, but they've varied widely in quality. The brightness or contrast of your images may need to be adjusted depending on the printer you go with- and this adjustment may need to be applied to the overall image, or maybe only to a few of the color channels in the image (for example, the oranges and browns of the poster I just had printed turned out greenish- implying that my images should have their yellow channel enhanced a little and their cyan channel toned down a little if I have that same printer do my next job).

Anyway, this advice might not apply if the variability within a given printer's jobs from time to time is too great. Then you'll pretty much just have to live with what you get.

This whole thing might also be a moot point if the printer accepts a file format with embedded color profiles that they can use to ensure a good match- is this common practice/ does it work?

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