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Need some info about homemade printing

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larienna
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I am currently making test for board game material that should be sold on wargamesdownload.com as a downladable board game. The problem is that I need some info to make sure that it will print correctly on all printers.

--- Color VS Black ---

From my point of view, there will be 3 kind of people who want to print my game:

- The ones who have a color printer and want a high quality game
- The ones who have a color printer but don't want to waste too much ink
- The ones that only has a black printer.

First of all, I intended to use textured hex map that looks like this.

This could be very hard to print on a black printer so I intend to use a pattern version instead. This will mean that I'll have to supply 2 version of the same map, which can increase a bit the file size. Here is the patterned version:

For the tokens, I don't want to have 2 version, so I want to make sure that they print correctly on both color and black printer. Here is an example of unit token:

The problem is that the colors are probably too dark. For example, the red behind the "damaged" word might be too dark to see the text. I want to know what is determining how dark a color will appear on a black printer? Is it the clarity of the color or is it the luminance value. Does a Yellow with the same luminance than a Red will be printed the same on a black printer.

This is why I intend to use pale colors just to make sure that we see correctly the text and the outline. It could then be easily colored with some color pen or highlighter.

--- Double Printing ---

The games will be supplied with cards. All card will contains text and number on the front and a texture on the back. It will look to something like this:

Since I want it to be possible to print them on color and black printer. I wanted to know if it was possible to split the graphics in 2 different files and print them one above the other like this:

Does printing over printed stuff works correctly?

In this way, somebody who wan't the full color version will print the textures and the text while the other one will only print the text. It save some file space since there is only 1 textured template but you must print all your cards twice for each side.

--- Paper Border ---

I am currently using legal paper for my hex map. The software I am using tells me that there is a print area on the paper and that anything outside this area won't be printed. On the picture below, the dotted line represent the print area.

Is this line is the physical limit of the printer, which mean that you cannot change it in the printer configuration?

Is this line determined by MY printer configuration or is this border universal to all printers? I am curretly using PDF redirect as my printer.

--- Paper Size ---

Another problem I have is the fact the europeans use different paper size. Here it i's Letter and Legal while there is is A1 and ???.

If I place everything in Letter and Legal, can it be printed correctly on A1 printers?

It gets worst for double sided token. If Letter does not print in the middle of an A1 page, then when you print the backs of the token, they won't be alligned together. Do you think I need to supply a A1 version of all double sided material?

Thank you for any information or comment.

FastLearner
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Re: Need some info about homemade printing

Lots of questions there. I have more answers but very limited time right now, so I'll hit the easiest ones and come back later for more:

Larienna wrote:
Is this line is the physical limit of the printer, which mean that you cannot change it in the printer configuration?

Is this line determined by MY printer configuration or is this border universal to all printers? I am curretly using PDF redirect as my printer.
It's not universal to all printer, it definitely changes. In my experience, however, if you leave .25" around the outside, nearly every printer can handle it. Some take smaller borders -- heck, some can print right to the edge -- but I've not found a modern printer that couldn't handle 1/4".

Quote:
--- Paper Size ---

Another problem I have is the fact the europeans use different paper size. Here it i's Letter and Legal while there is is A1 and ???.

If I place everything in Letter and Legal, can it be printed correctly on A1 printers?

It gets worst for double sided token. If Letter does not print in the middle of an A1 page, then when you print the backs of the token, they won't be alligned together. Do you think I need to supply a A1 version of all double sided material?
On the North American vs. European paper sizes, you're not in luck.

The European paper sized closes to the NA "Letter" size is A4. It's a bit longer (.7"), and a bit narrower (.23"). There is no equivalent to our "Legal" size: the next size up is A3, which it two A4s side-by-side, roughly the size of our "Tabloid" sheets (11"x17"), but of course not the same. The next smaller size is A5, which is half the size of A4.

If you design a PDF for Letter-sized paper and you leave 1/2"+ margins on the left and right, it can usually be printed on an A4 sheet without shrinking it. Those limited to European paper sizes and standard printers, however, will not be able to print a Legal-sized sheet without shrinking it, at least not on commonly-available printers and paper.

-- Matthew

VeritasGames
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Re: Need some info about homemade printing

Larienna wrote:

Does printing over printed stuff works correctly?

Yes and now. If there is like a 1/4" margin of error then it'll work. If there isn't, you will just have to be very luck.

For instance if you print a black hex grid and then expect colors to match up if you are printing to the edge of each hex then unless you have a perfect printer be prepared for possible disappointment.

VeritasGames
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Need some info about homemade printing

As for your token, put all of your pure black ink on a vector layer. Put all your color on another layer beneath it. To create grayscale tokens, select the colored layer, adjust the brightness and contrast way up. Then convert the layer to grayscale. Resave your token. You should be able to make relatively clean tokens this way, much better than hoping that colored tokens come out OK.

Alternately, if line art is OK, then just delete the colored layer and your black sections will remain as fonts and line art.

Another thing that you can do in some advanced page layout programs is to define object styles. If you do that, then you can just select a ton of objects at once and convert them to a grayscale style that you pre-define.

larienna
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Need some info about homemade printing

Thanks for the information

For the paper format, it seem possible to print a Legal page on a A3 format since it is around (11x17). The problems is : does casual european printers support this format? Our printers generally does not support more than 8-1/2" wide, is it the same for them.

Anyways, if the map can't be printed, I have calculated that 2 legal size map side by side will give the same number of hex than a battletech map minus 1 row ( my hex are a bit smaller ). So they could build the maps from the back of battletech map like I wanted to do first ( if there are sold overthere).

Else I'll manage to find something or i'll realease a north american only game.

I have measured the print border defined by the software, and it was around 0.22" wide.

TargetBoy
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Printing the map

If you don't mind little variance in the size, you can build your map to fill the page, and include print instructions to make sure "Fit to Page" is checked in Acrobat. It will automatically shrink the map to fit the printer margins.

For two sided tokens, it is nearly impossible to print two sides of a page and have the images line up, no matter what printer. For a PDF I recomend printing the front and back side by side, with a small gap and a center line in between. The customer prints on cardstock, puts their favorite glue on the back, and folds carefuly on the center line. This lines up the front and back nicely. (I stole this idea from one of Mark H. Walker's games for Armchair General magazine.)

If they want to use a backing, just put it between the halves when you fold.

For colors, I have found that black shows up well on flat red (255,0,0 on the RGB scale) but black is nearly invisible on flat blue (0,0,255). I haven't tried Green. I get good contrast from red counters with black text and blue counters with white text. My counters are very simple, though.

FastLearner
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Re: Need some info about homemade printing

Some more thoughts:

Larienna wrote:
First of all, I intended to use textured hex map that looks like this.

This could be very hard to print on a black printer so I intend to use a pattern version instead. This will mean that I'll have to supply 2 version of the same map, which can increase a bit the file size.
I certainly think that having two versions is fine, thouigh as you note, the file size will be a problem. However, you can also modify your colored textures so that they print out with sufficient differentiation in black and white. Different overall luminosity will help, as you suggest, as will stronger contrast in your textures: increase the contrast and the "patterns" of the wavy stuff and such will be more clear. If you use textures that are a bit more different, including which direction they "flow" in the hex, you should be able to get away with just one map.

Quote:
For the tokens, I don't want to have 2 version, so I want to make sure that they print correctly on both color and black printer. Here is an example of unit token:

The problem is that the colors are probably too dark. For example, the red behind the "damaged" word might be too dark to see the text. I want to know what is determining how dark a color will appear on a black printer? Is it the clarity of the color or is it the luminance value. Does a Yellow with the same luminance than a Red will be printed the same on a black printer.
I agree that they're too dark. Unfortunately, while luminance is a big part of what the printer driver will use to shift from color to grayscale, it's not the only thing, and it varies from printer to printer.

Quote:
This is why I intend to use pale colors just to make sure that we see correctly the text and the outline. It could then be easily colored with some color pen or highlighter.

Pale colors are good, though some could be dark colors with white type, where the type will be colored with highlighters if someone chooses to do so.

Quote:
--- Double Printing ---

The games will be supplied with cards. All card will contains text and number on the front and a texture on the back. It will look to something like this:

Since I want it to be possible to print them on color and black printer. I wanted to know if it was possible to split the graphics in 2 different files and print them one above the other like this:

Does printing over printed stuff works correctly?
It works correctly in concept, but as VeritasGames points out, not so much in practice. On a home printer, even when you're being very, very careful and you're willing to try it multiple times, it's very difficult to get anything to line up within 1/8th of an inch. The paper handling for (most) home printers is quite primitive. If you're going with two different layers like that, I suspect you're better off just having color and grayscale versions. I think you'll frustrate your customers too much, and things just won't line up for them except by happy chance.

Quote:
It gets worst for double sided token. If Letter does not print in the middle of an A1 page, then when you print the backs of the token, they won't be alligned together. Do you think I need to supply a A1 version of all double sided material?

On lining up fronts and backs, you have the same alignment issues mentioned above, except it's worse. Commonly a home printer will offset the page a little bit in one direction or another -- either to the left or right, or towards the top or bottom, or both. Every time it prints, it will tend towards this. If you then print on the back, it will offset the same way, but the difference betwen the front and back (if you imagine flipping this offset over) is double whatever ithe offset was. So if it always print 1/16" to the left and 1/16" too high, the difference between things that are supposed to line up front and back will be 1/8" -- quite a ways off.

Most printable games I see don't ask you to print on front and back for this very reason.

On A4 printing, be sure and tell your European customers (in the instructions) to tell Acrobat to "Rotate and Center" the pages as it prints -- this will at least allow the front and back to sort-of line up.

Quote:
For the paper format, it seem possible to print a Legal page on a A3 format since it is around (11x17). The problems is : does casual european printers support this format? Our printers generally does not support more than 8-1/2" wide, is it the same for them.

Right, A3 printers there are just as uncommon as tabloid (11x17) printers here in North America, hence my conclusion that your European customers won't be able to print your legal sheets without telling Acrobat to "Shrink Oversize Pages," which probably won't result in what you want.

Sorry for not having much in the way of good news... just passing along facts (and my opinions, of course).

-- Matthew

FastLearner
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Need some info about homemade printing

Somehow I missed TargetBoy's response, sorry to repeat stuff.

And yeah, the foldover thing is great!

-- Matthew

phpbbadmin
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Need some info about homemade printing

FastLearner wrote:
Somehow I missed TargetBoy's response, sorry to repeat stuff.

And yeah, the foldover thing is great!

-- Matthew

Yeah amen to that. I'm filing that away for future use!

-Darke

larienna
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Need some info about homemade printing

The folding technique for token seems OK.

For 2 sided cards, I have printed home made heroquest cards. They simply put no border on the front of the cards and the back of the card contained the border which mean it did not care if they were not corretly aligned.

But for tokens, it get more complicated since the tokens are not big enough and since the name of the unit is on the border.

For the maps, on legal paper, shrinking the map can be horrible. Because I have measured the hex height to 1 inch, and the unit tokens will be 1 inch high. There is also hex tokens that will be used to add cities, bridges, ports. So they need to be the same size. If the user resize the map, he must also resize the token of the same size, which can be possible to do.

Anyways, it all mean that I'll have to make some print test.

I'll also check the difference between the final zipped size of textured and color-white map to see if I should only make 1 map version.

seo
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Need some info about homemade printing

Just a suggestion on the paper sizes.

Here in Uruguay it's easy to find both US and ISO (A4 etc.) paper sizes for both laser and inkjet printers, but from what I've seen on the web, most customers in Europe will have a hard time finding paper in US sizes.

So the safest bet, if you want to avoid shrinking (as this might lead to some complications if you have separate documents for board and tokens, etc.) is to designe everything in Letter or A4 size, but leaving one enogh blank margins at the sides (Letter) or top and bottom (A4), so that people in USA can use Letter and people in Europe can use A4.

Also, from my experience, many Epson inkjet printers require a big margin at the bottom, of about 3/4" or so. You might want to take this into consideration too.

To make a long story short, all this chit-chat translates into a simple rule (so you can discard the rest of the post and keep just this last info): you have a "safe" area of about 7 3/4" by 9 3/4" at the center of a Letter or A4 page. This "safe" area will print (without the need of any fit to page option) on most printers using US Letter or ISO A4 paper.

Just in case you're curious, here is a sketch of both paper sizes and the printing margins for an EPSON Stylus printer (Letter in red, A4 in green), and the "safe area" (centered in the page) in grey. You could use a bit more paper at the top, as the wide margin in only at the bottom, but it's probably easier to just place it centered, even if the resulting area is smaller.

HTH,

Seo

phpbbadmin
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Need some info about homemade printing

seo wrote:

To make a long story short, all this chit-chat translates into a simple rule (so you can discard the rest of the post and keep just this last info): you have a "safe" area of about 7 3/4" by 9 3/4" at the center of a Letter or A4 page. This "safe" area will print (without the need of any fit to page option) on most printers using US Letter or ISO A4 paper.

Just in case you're curious, here is a sketch of both paper sizes and the printing margins for an EPSON Stylus printer (Letter in red, A4 in green), and the "safe area" (centered in the page) in grey. You could use a bit more paper at the top, as the wide margin in only at the bottom, but it's probably easier to just place it centered, even if the resulting area is smaller.

HTH,

Seo

Seo,
This is nothing short of pure genius! Good work! It's been said necessity is the mother of invention and this surely proves that point!
-Darke

seo
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Need some info about homemade printing

Thanks, Darke. Here we're used to find both US and ISO sizes, some people use one, other people uses the other, so when you prepare something for other people to print, most times you can't tell what paper size they're going to use; it's a bit like having to work with two different markets at the time.

If you're as lazy as I am, you end up finding ways to handle that paper size incompatibility with as little work as possible. ;-)

Seo

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