Friday, April 24, 2015

GanguStars Book Project Samples...Again!

I'm a creative person that likes to know all the angles of things before I get a project together that will be distributed to others. With what I am doing with the GanguStars books and print items this means finding what I feel is the best format and outlet for the final piece. I've had 8 test print sample books done by a couple different Print On Demand companies. About $90 in and I have both good and bad returns. But even the bad gives me a great outlook on things, cause I know now that some orders in particular formats and a certain company will never be made.

I remarked on the previous 4-6 books I had done before a few weeks back. Yesterday I received 2 more sample prints, 1 in 8.5x11inch magazine format and 1 in 6x10inch comic size. Both were full color and on semi-gloss coated papers. And both were from different companies, maybe. I'll elaborate on that later. Neither met my expectations, and I doubt I will use either for the intended purpose, or at least not in the design style I had chosen.

Magazine Print
Right out of the shipping sleeve, it was doomed.

It's like someone used the 5 second rule when they dropped this and just quickly picked it up and dropped in the shipping pack as if no harm was done. But that is a pretty significant bit of crushing on the spine corner. Every page is damaged with the pages towards the back even slightly torn. And the issues withe the cover didn't end there. The print and trim work were out of alignment.

Even though this was designed full bleed (meaning image/ink goes full across the page), it wasn't printed that way. Or not cut that way when the final trim was made to conform to the size format. When I opened the book I found that the print alignment problems wasn't just on the cover, but throughout the entire book.

The paper quality is passable, like just about any magazine you pick up off the rack at a super market. The ink/print quality though was terrible. I kid you not, I could have had better results from my crappy old inkjet printer. My page featuring the Gobots Turbo is pink. And grainy as sandpaper.

And the grainy image issues ran the length of the magazine's pages. The color tint being off, while very noticeable in the Turbo page, only really affected maybe half the book. It really came out in the reds. I think I could offset this while making the book, but there no way I'd know I had it right without more test prints, and that could get pricey. This magazine wasn't as cheap as an issue of People or US Magazine, hell those are cheaper than just the cost I paid for shipping this test book.

Outcome of Magazine test: Never gonna happen. I will never use this format and printer for this size of print. It's worse than the Economy Color Testbook I showed a few weeks back, and way more expensive.

Comic Print
This was the print test I was more excited about. The magazine format was a bit of a "wouldn't that be cool" type of thing, while the comic format was something I wanted because it's juts more practical. Now I didn't have the same noticeable damage showing when I took this book out of it's shipping box. Thankfully. But after a second I did notice the same poor print alignment and trim. In fact worse than the magazine print.

It's off so bad that the spine is now moved onto the cover, and the right side of the cover has been pushed past the trim line and cut off. This is absolutely unacceptable. I follow the trim and alignment requirements even past the recommend settings. If the company says leave 3/4's inch I leave a full inch. And then another 1/4 inch for safety. They had to seriously screw this up to have any important bits cut off.

If you look at the back of this one its harder to see the shift. I had made sure to have the front covers on both books full bleed image, and the backs image on white. I like both, but in terms of having things printed safely and completely, the full bleed image just doesn't look to be available to me. I just wouldn't be able to trust these printers with being able to do the job correctly, and I wouldn't be able to get a re-print or refund in some instances.

And of course, the inner pages all suffer from poor printing as well. Unlike the magazine format where the problem was more due to improperly trimming the pages, this is a set-up issue.

The pages in the comic print were supposed to be full bleed, with the black highlight panels extending the full length of the pages. You're not supposed to see white lines at the top and bottom of the pages. I had even made sure to note in the order that all inside pages were "full bleed" when the project was uploaded.

The problems with the comic format print are so noticeable, and it's such a shame because aside from what I show here, it's a great looking book. The color is fantastic and spot on, the paper quality is amazing. The semi-gloss paper just really brings out the images and even the text looks bright and crisp. But there's no way to look at any of that without your eye straying to the bad print problem areas. Or at least for me that's what happens. Ultimately, what this means is I tweak this design and nix the black highlight bars in favor of white ones. I just won't be able to have the full page bleed look either.

To compare the color quality of the two books:

Look at how much nicer the red on the Gobots Turbo comic print page is. And it's clear and clean, not grainy and fuzzy like the magazine print. Even the cover printing is a notch nicer on the comic print.

Outcome of Comic test: I will use this at some point, but will just have to design to the imperfect print process the company practices.

Now I mentioned that these books were maybe printed by 2 different companies, here's a theory I've come up with. Now the orders were placed with the main offices of each Print On Demand business, each on one side of the country. Now when the order shipping notices were sent to me, both books originated from the same city, which is in neither state of the where the companies exist. My guess is that each company outsources certain print productions to outside printers. It would make sense since you can't order a magazine print and a photobook print and have them ship together. It's because they produce the products in different places. This also explains how some of the very same crappy outcomes are featured here in both test prints.

I'm not likely gonna file a complaint with each company or anything, but maybe at least inquire to the issues at hand. These were test prints, and they have done the job of alerting me to any issues for better or in this case, much worse compared to the prints I've done before.

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