(Close) Encounters


I pulled into a coffee shop to fire off this quick missive: HEBFF contract graphic designer Nancy Reed and I were on press this morning down at Quadrangle in San Antonio, okaying the cover for Encounters, the second curricular book we’ve published for Laity Lodge Family Camp. The cover features a subtle white-on-kraft-paper look that we’re all excited about.

Whenever designers use opaque white ink on uncoated paper, they have to take into consideration “dryback”—the inevitable absorption of some of the ink’s opacity into the fibers of the paper. The amount of dryback is affected by the viscosity of the ink, the absorbancy of the paper, and the humidity in the air. What you see on press when the sheet is still wet isn’t necessarily what you’ll see once it’s dry, so you have to make sure inks go down more noticeably (knowing they’ll inevitably fade a bit into the tone of the substrate).


When Quadrangle fired up the press this morning, the pressmen were already armed with an ink pulldown—a swatch of the ink pulled across the actual stock using a palette knife. This allowed us all a baseline against which we could compare. Once the press revved up to speed and press-sheets started shooting out, it was clear the flow of ink would have to be pulled back so that the fine details on the back cover wouldn’t clog. One that adjustment was made, the ink was simply too light on the page. A second, registered, “hit” of white ink was required, necessitating a new, second pass through the press, once the sheets had sufficiently dried. As one can imagine, keeping everything lined up—registered—is no small task.

Using a printer’s loupe, I was able to verify that the leading edge of the press-sheet was in near-perfect register, and that the trailing edge of the sheet was only about 1/128th of an inch off at its worst spot. That’s within standard tolerances, and a small enough amount to be within a reasonable margin of error from page to page, and almost imperceptible with the naked eye. You probably can’t tell in the close-ups shown here. The pressman’s job is now to watch the sheets as the job is completed to make sure the job stays within this acceptable registration. (Note: the interior, or “guts” of the booklet will be printed later in the year).

Close-up of Encounters back cover: