Designing cards: How we work
How we work is that once we have the main image for a card, we design the card directly on the computer. We’ve got a template set up at the correct proportions, with the back of the card on a separate layer so that we can set the main image and show and ‘hide’ any unwanted parts behind the back of the card. That way we can adjust the appearance to give the most pleasing result.
At various stages during the design process we set the card on the screen at the size it will be when printed, and then stare at it for a while.
We blank out the rest of the screen so that we can see the card in isolation, without any distractions. And as often as not, we will move away from the screen and stand on the other side of the room to look at the card. It gives us another perspective, and sometimes we will spot something that doesn’t look right. It might be some text that is too big, or that the image needs moving across a fraction.
The cards are made at the dimensions at which they will be sent to the printer, including allowing an amount for trimming after printing.
What that means is that the area of the card we can see on screen is a couple of millimetres bigger all around than the finished card will be.
To prevent our eyes being fooled into thinking that there is more card than there will be in the finished product, we have a digital mask that we put over the top layer of the card on screen.
The mask is simple black outline that masks off or hides one or two millimetres around the edge of the card.
For exmple, some text can look perfectly placed. Then when we put the mask over the card we see that the balance of the available space has changed and the text needs to be moved a fraction this way or that.
We usually put new designs in a Possibles folder where they live for a little while. At this stage they have not been printed.
We go back to them after a few days – sometimes a week or two – and look again. Sometimes we see something immediately that we didn’t see before. It might be that something needs to be lightened or made darker. It might be that something needs to be smaller or bigger or moved up or down.
Sometimes we see that the design just doesn’t work and needs a rethink. And sometimes we say yes and send it off to have a single proof copy printed before committing it to a longer print run.