We got the digital proofs in from our printing company, but I’m going to have to make alignment adjustments and re-submit. So, in other words, delay.
The red lines you see in these digital proofs shared here are where the cards will be cut, so everything inside the red lines are what you’ll see on the actual card. There is about 10 pixels (that’s 0.169 cm or 0.0665 inches) too much around the perimeter, more than I had wanted on the card faces and about 18 pixels (that’s 0.305 cm or 0.1201 inches) too much around the perimeter of the card backs.
The test print samples I got done myself with a print-on-demand service cut the margins exactly where I wanted, so sadly, I thought I was good to go. But I’m not. The way my actual printing company cuts the cards or gives the margin specifications is a little different. Which is totally normal. Which is why we do these digital proofs first before physical samples are printed.
Here’s a close-up of the Six of Swords from the digital proofs sheet my manufacturer sent me. Another thing concerning me that I’ll need to talk to them about is the resolution. Is this just because they reduced the file size of the proofs so it could be e-mailed to me? Is there any cause for concern here?
I intentionally did the digital art at 500 dpi and then individually, the details (where I did the artwork separately then pasted it into the composition) were done at 600 dpi. On my own computer, when I zoom in super close to my original files, everything looks sharp. I’ve printed these images at 8.5″ x 11″ size art paper at home and the resolution quality is lovely. So……….
Above left is the actual digital image file I submitted, with the added bleed margin of 3 mm, as instructed by my manufacturer. Above center is from the digital proofs I got. Here, focus on the borders and how much spacing is there. Not bad, but if I’m going to get picky, what you see above right is the actual spacing I wanted for the borders. I measured it digitally and the proofs are about 10 pixels too much in spacing around all four edges than my ideal amount of spacing.
Also, remember that the as-is digital image files shared on this blog post are significantly lighter than my intended print color values. If you’ve been following the last few production status updates, it’s because the actual cards consistently print darker than the digital image files submitted. So to compensate, the digital files need to appear lighter to me than what I want, for it to print exactly how I want.
Revisiting a compare-contrast Vitruvian card I shared in the previous status update, not only will the actual card print darker, but also print less saturated, so I need to account for both factors when preparing the digital image file. Hence, the digital image files in this blog post will look way lighter, like wayy lighter than how it should print. (If all goes well…. honor to thy gods please watch over me and the progress of this endeavor…)
I pulled up my old 2019 digital proofs for the Vitruvian Edition and compared one of the card proofs (above right) with the actual printed card from the deck (above left).
With that as my frame of reference, I have to go back to the Revelation digital proofs and adjust the margins accordingly.
By the way, cost of paper products have shot through the roof. Cardstock is more expensive and the manufacturers of the cardstock are maintaining tight control over the supply. That means card printing companies, like the one I work with for printing the SKT decks, are having a much more difficult time getting the quality cardstock they want. Their prices for raw materials have gone up, and they’re passing the hike on to us deck creators.
Some factories have resorted to less than transparent practices, such as a bait and switch of the cardstock type you’ve ordered. Apparently, there are ways for factories to fudge the gsm (grams per square meter). Seriously if humankind put as much effort into innovation as we do into counterfeiting for profit, we’d have intergalactic travel by now.
The card back (again, with the card back drama, SIGH…) is where the discrepancy is most pronounced. The center image above is the digital proof I received. Where you see the red lines are where the card is going to be cut. Above right is where I thought the card was going to get cut, so the final printed card that you see should look like the above right. The difference is about 18 pixels all around, or 0.305 centimeters too much.
The process of self-publishing your own deck is anxiety-ridden, no matter how much experience you think you have, no matter how many times you do this, no matter how careful and diligent you think you are.
From 2018, for each printing, I took meticulous notes in my journal on the exact measurements, specifications, what I did, step by step, right down to the pixel count, and still there are mishaps.
From the initial concept in my imagination to the physically printed deck of cards in your hands, there are myriad steps and an infinite combination of ways that something can go wrong at each and every one of those steps.
So. Production status update: That physical test sample (physical proofs) I talked about in the previous update? Slight delay, because of what we see in these initial digital proofs. My margins and bleed lines are off, so I need to readjust every image file, the 80 card fronts and the card back design, and re-submit to the printing company. That’ll be my project for the rest of this week.