Definition – The process of preparing artwork for the printing press — making it ready for printing (pre > before and press > printing on a printing press).

The Art Work The usual path that art work takes, from creation to prepress to printing, generally follows three steps. First, the art work is created by a graphic designer, or other creative professional, then sent to prepress. While being reviewed by a prepress professional, the art work goes through many stages.

File Conversion It’s necessary to translate your CTP (computer to plate) files into a format for plating, including the conversion of all art and fonts in the file to a high-resolution bitmap—or rasterization. This task is also known as taking an image described in a vector graphics format (shapes) and converting it into a raster image (pixels or dots). To do that, your document files must be raster image processed. The files are locked down digitally, maintaining integrity between proofing and plating.

In CTP workflow, the proofs never physically see the plating medium and are derived directly from the digital media. On approval, the digitally-imposed files are now etched directly onto the plate.

Stripping The prepress operator will strip the artwork and separate it from the die line without hurting the integrity of the design. To “strip” in printing terms means separating a part of the file so the printer can process and create the die cut for the box. Folding carton printing is done on a square or rectangular piece of paperboard, and then later cut into the proper shape. That’s the die cut.

Prepress or make-ready tasks will vary depending on file complexity and printing method, some may include:

  • Making sure graphics are in the right format
  • Creating color separations
  • Adding crop marks
  • Trapping (done to prevent color gaps when colors touch in a layout)
  • Producing prepress proofs
  • Separating the colors for printing
  • Checking that all fonts are coming through correctly

Prepress is the foundation for quality folding carton printing. Our experienced and knowledgeable team is always available to assist you with any questions you may have. If you have any questions about artwork or prepress, please call 951-278-2100.