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Produce your own greeting cards

December 21, 2016  •  1 Comment

If you're a photographer, a wonderful way to share your work is to produce greeting cards. I've been doing it for years, printing them at home on good quality paper with an Epson Stylus Pro 3800 inkjet printer. The results are excellent. I can change the designs at will. But I've decided to go another way and have them printed on demand by an Australian company called D&D Digital Printing. Why? As good as the home produced cards are, they cost me too much in materials and time to finish (folding, trimming). Ultrachrome inks for Epson printers, and good quality heavyweight photo papers are expensive.

For me, the advantages of on-demand D&D Digital Printing are:

  • Economy—quantity discounts can achieve unit costs well below what I can manage by printing at home. As an example, I can have 200 A6 size cards printed on 300gsm paper, trimmed, folded and delivered to my door—including 200 C6 peel-and-seal white envelopes—for about 63 cents each including postage. For a bit more, I can choose 350gsm paper.
  • Time savings—I don't have to fold and trim the cards. I can do it accurately with my home-printed cards but it costs me more time than I care to spend on the task.
  • Quality—the print quality delivered by D&D Digital Printing is excellent, in my opinion.
  • Versatility—a print batch can be made up of multiple card designs. To get a 200 card quantity discount, I don't need to print 200 cards of the same design. Thank goodness! A restriction like that would be a deal killer.
  • Convenience—the files I upload remain on the supplier's server. I don't have to upload each time I want to order.
  • Opportunity—the convenience and economy of the commercial printing option makes retail sales through my website viable. This is a project for 2017.
    Even if you're not interested in a commercial destiny for your cards, they are cost-effective and uniquely from you as greeting cards for friends and family.

This is not a paid advertisement for D&D Digital Printing. It's an unsolicited endorsement. I support this supplier because it's an Australian business and offers better quality and price, in my opinion, than a UK based company that I have tried—the one associated with the sound a cow makes. Postage from UK is prohibitive and that company's service doesn't allow me to have unique, full bleed content printed on the back of each card design in a batch containing multiple card designs; every card has the same information printed on the back and, what's more, only in a small central tile. That doesn't work for my approach which is to value-add by having a unique story about each card design printed on the back.

The process

I've created my own Photoshop template (below) to standardise the way I create greeting card designs. This allows me to have text elements located in the same position in every design. The portrait format rectangle on the right hand side acts as a keyline and locator for the main image. The marks in the corners of the template are bleed marks. After the cards are printed by the supplier, they are trimmed to the bleed marks. Effectively, this crops 3mm from each of the four sides. Therefore, I must take care not to place crucial design elements (e.g. text or logos) close to what will become the trimmed edge of the card.

My templateCreate your own in Photoshop. Vital statistics are shown below.

Below is a finished design based on the template above, with the trim marks layer hidden. 

Watching the flank (A6 greeting card)Watching the flank (A6 greeting card)Juvenile eastern grey kangaroos near Buiree Point, Lake Copeton. Shot from the car, positioned to achieve out-of-focus offset kangaroo in background. 1/1500th @ f5.6 & 840mm ISO 1600 ®

With some basic Photoshop knowledge, you can create your own greeting card template. The vital statistics of the file you need for A6 portrait format cards are shown below. A file with these characteristics will print as an A5 sheet at 300 pixels per inch (high quality). The A5 sheet will be folded in half to produce an A6 size greeting card.

CHOOSE MENU ITEM: Image>Image size...

2551 x 1825 pixelsResolution must be 300 pixels per inch

Ensure that the image mode is set to 8 bits/Channel CMYK Color so it's compatible with the printing system used by the print supplier.

CHOOSE MENU ITEM: Image>Mode> TICK CMYK Colour and TICK 8 Bits/Channel

Image mode CMYK Color

Convert the colour profile of the image to a destination profile compatible with the print system used by DDDigitalprinting.com.au.

CHOOSE MENU ITEM: Edit>Convert to profile...>Choose Destination Space Profile Coated FOGRA39 (ISO 12647-2:2004)

Colour profile

When you've finished laying out your card design (image, graphics, text)...

  1. Hide any template layers that are not needed in the printed version (such as trim mark layers)
  2. Flatten the file, including all text layers...
    CHOOSE MENU ITEM: Layer>Flatten image 
  3. Save the file as a Photoshop PDF file...

Save as PDFSubstitute 'Filename' with your desired filename.

...with the following PDF settings.

Save Adobe PDFEnsure 'Preserve Photoshop editing Capabilities' is unchecked.

NOTE: Ensure that the box 'Preserve Photoshop editing capabilities' is unchecked, otherwise the resulting PDF file will be as much as five times larger (in megabytes) than necessary, and slower to upload to the print supplier's website.

At this point...

If you have followed the instructions above, you will have a .PDF file of your design that is ready to upload to the print supplier's website.

Repeat all of the steps above for each card design that you wish to produce.  A benefit of on demand digital printing is that you can order a batch of cards to be printed and the order (minimum quantity of 25 cards) can be made up of cards of more than one design. I recently designed 8 cards and placed an order for 40 made up of 5 cards of each design (8 x 5 = 40).

Resume here when you're ready to upload your card designs

When you have your stash of print-ready .PDF card design files, it's time to visit DDDigitalprinting.com.au. You'll find out what's involved when you get there, but here's a summary of the steps you'll take:

  1. Register for a user account
  2. Upload your .PDF files
  3. Order your cards and options (total quantity, paper weight, paper finish, envolopes or not, flat or folded cards etc.)
  4. Choose one of your previously uploaded card designs as the representative of your batch
    If you want your batch to be made up of different card designs, simply write your instructions in the comments section of the order and D&D staff will sort it out for you. For example, you could write...'Please print 5 copies of each of the following 5 files for a total of 25 cards: file1.pdf, file2.pdf, file3.pdf, file4.pdf, and file5.pdf'
  5. Complete your order through the checkout and wait for your cards to arrive in 3-6 days from ordering.

(Untitled)Eight card designsUploaded as CMYK .PDF files (Untitled)Each card has its own backstoryPersonal natural history observations and photographic EXIF data. (Untitled)Ready for retail saleEach card packaged with a quality (post office preferred size) envelope and protected in a peel-and-seal cellophane bag.

 


Comments

David Ashton
Excellent and practical info Rob, thanks for sharing that with us. Have a great 2017.
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