For this blog post, I will be discussing the first test print that I did for the first chapter of the book, an important stage as that is where I will have my first impression of any issues that may arise during the printing process and to see my designs in print at practically 100%.
Conducting a test-print
From previous projects and their test-prints, I have built up an idea of what to expect. I use the HP laser printer that we have for general printing in our computer room, and I know it over saturates the colours. Also with the paper quality being lower than that of the final piece, the way the ink sits on the page is different as well.
The contents page came out well, and I could instantly see all of the elements on the page are well balanced. This is an extremely positive start and bodes well for the rest of the test-print.
One thing this printer specialises in I have found is highlighting the difference between any type of black formed from a CMYK colour process against that of an RGB process. While RGB is typically not used for printing, I have found for black, it achieves a much better result, with a much darker, crisper result. Here it is possible to see an issue with the small icons at the bottom of the left page where the two tones of black do not match.
I am very pleased with the way the Solar System introduction spread has come out, it looks just right, and I have to say that save for perhaps a few small design tweaks it is complete.
Picking out these two spreads from the first chapter, I was really pleased with how they looked, with all the sizing just right. This was no doubt helped by being able to design them at 100% size on an external monitor connected to my Macbook.
As for the printing, there is a real issue with the black backgrounds of the images that are presumably in the RGB format. I could make the images CMYK, and have a more reliable idea as to how they print, but lose the really dark, crisp blacks, or create an RGB black background and place behind the entire spread throughout all of the book.
Currently, I haven’t got very far with the introductory spread for the second chapter. I am planning to categorise stars on the right page and put them into context for the audience. As for the left page there is a list of things I want to explain.
For a quick trial, I did a mock-up of the IAU charts on the page, the idea being that I could re-draw them in Illustrator and place the illustrations on top. I think this would be too cluttered however, and there would not be a sensible visual hierarchy to the design.
However, the design approach I will be pursuing instead is that of the illustration path, and naming all the stars that are formed within the constellation. I won’t use a chart/map as instead that role can be filled by the third chapter of the book.
Conclusion, Reflection & Next Steps
Now that I have conducted a test-print, it has raised a couple of issues, regarding the use of black when printing, and the quality of PNG images, but in general, I am very pleased with the results I have seen so far. The next stage now will be to push on with the illustrations I need to fill the second chapter.
Another very important thing I need to think about is that with all my time and effort going into the book, it is neglecting the poster/print and I will need to make a decision as to whether I keep it or not. Certainly from the response I have had from people when I have told them in the last week I am still thinking about the poster suggests I could be trying to achieve more than is realistically possible.