For this blog post, I will be discussing the third (and probably final) test print of the project, an important stage in the project as this will be where I check features I have had problems with in previous test prints are fixed and that improvements are made where needed.
Issues with printing
As seen in the previous two test prints, the black ink cartridge was running, and then promptly ran out, meaning no more test prints could be conducted through the printer for the duration of the project as the necessary black ink cartridge was on order.
This was a big nuisance, as it meant I would have to conduct my test prints on a different printer, which would produce a different result, meaning I wouldn’t be able to compare it against my other test prints. In the end, I found a printer in another computer room, which was a Sharp, instead of an HP.
When it printed, I was really surprised to see that it came out glossy, with vibrant, but poor colour reproduction in some areas. It did satisfy though for a test print.
Looking through the test print
This is the first time the covers have appeared on the blog, as I was working on them yesterday evening, so haven’t have had time to state anything about them. I think in my next blog post I will show how I got to the stage you see below, and how I will develop it to create the final piece. It looks to have printed well, although I’m not so sure about the quality of the main image, I will have to check the dpi figure in InDesign.
Advice & Tips
The left page has the new PNG icons placed on it. Unlike the first test print, where the black background was wrong, and the second test print, where they were pixellated, here they look just right. This result was achieved like the constellation illustrations, where I exported them from Illustrator as PNG files instead of placing them in Photoshop and then importing them into InDesign.
One observation about the main image however, is that editing I have done to remove noise has removed quite a lot of sharpness from the image. I think this is something I need to rectify.
So I did rectify it, I reversed the changes I made to reducing noise, and I also decided it was too blue, so I added a gradient map, set to 45% opacity to achieve this. At 100%, it produced a great black and white effect, which I preferred the aesthetic of, but I knew it wasn’t suitable as a photo, which is meant to show realistically what you can see looking into the night sky.
Part 1: The Solar System
I chose to only print the ‘Other Sights’ page off, as my second test print had shown everything to be fine for the rest of the first part of the book. I am very pleased with the layout of this page, which I discussed in my last blog post, although I feel the image of the Geminid meteor shower could be lightened a touch.
This was completed as such, as can be seen below. I found I had darkened the original image too much so I reversed the vast majority of this to leave practically the original image.
Part 2: Stars & Constellations
In the last blog post I discussed the changes made to the introduction section for the second part of the book. With test-printing, I was pleased to see everything went well. I asked one of my tutor to proof-read this, and she found some typos as well as suggesting that for the star magnitude key, the stars were made larger as the text inside them seemed small.
Other than that, the feedback I received was positive for this spread, which is good considering the amount of time, effort and development it has taken to get this right.
The typos were easily fixed, but for the star magnitude key, I found that for the stars, making them larger worked, but for some reason, the -1 and -2 magnitude stars did not copy across from Illustrator, with the text merging into the white ring. To solve this I copied the stars minus the text and added that in InDesign.
I also changed around the right page, making some improvements to the design, such as placing more information on the page in a clearer manner.
As for the constellation spreads, these printed well and I got most of them proof-read. There were a few typos that needed to be sorted as well as re-writing some of the sections so they make more sense. I shall get this done by, if not before, the proof-reading stage.
As for the illustrations, they have printed well and feedback was positive, however, I am disappointed with the flatness of the illustrations. Although they let the stars appear more visible, they are a bit dull. This might just be the test print though. I’ll have a think about what to do and sort it out when I know what to do, and talk about it in another blog post.
I also wanted to print a prototype of the star charts that will make the back section of the book’s second part. As with the cover, I have not shown these before on the blog as they were put together not that long ago, and I would prefer to talk about them in a separate blog post, as it has been quite a long process, and also I can then talk about how I will be developing them to a finished stage.
As for the credits page, I was disappointed with how it printed, although I can see from the streaky lines across the page it is the printer not representing the colours properly. I expect no problem when I send it off to print. There is still some work to do with the credits, mainly updating information before it is ready.
I managed to complete the credits page and have placed an image of it below.
Edit: This image is actually of the finished credits page as I did not manage to take an image of the page as it stood at that point in time. There were a couple of changes made after that point relating the images on the cover and the image of Neptune’s rings that was changed.
The big issue of overprint preview
One issue that has plagued this project is that of overprinting, or as I knew it for most of this project… the annoying white lines around various images. The concern was that it would print like that, which would be a disaster, so I needed to do some research and find out what the problem was, and how to fix it.
My research found it was an issue to do with the transparencies of objects being previewed in the Blurb PDF export format that it would be sent off to printers as. They required compatibility with Adobe Acrobat 4, a much older format that is unable to process transparency.
So that was the problem, how do I fix it? Well some more research suggested it probably would not print like it, but I was not reassured with this. Eventually I came across an article on Blurb Support, which was very useful.
This stated that I should be viewing the file in Adobe Reader or Acrobat. Previously I had only been used the programme Preview, so I made sure I opened the file to Adobe Acrobat. The article then gave some support, including the critical point, Overprint Preview. By setting this to Always, it removes the white boxes around the text.
No white boxes around any objects were visible, and it was now that I knew it was clear that those lines were not going to print.
Conclusion & Next Step
I am very pleased with the progress that has been made with the test print and am now confident the book is going to print as desired. The next step once I have corrected the points raised in this blog post is to finish the book, including the covers and the final section.