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Minimize Your Time – Maximize Your Output

It’s that time of the year when many of our students start to stress out about putting their portfolios together. No matter if you are a Freshman, Sophomore or an experienced Senior, this is a daunting and intimidating task. So many decisions with so much impact on your future. After all the decisions and then all the work is corrected and polished you have to get it all printed for presentation. Here are a few tips to help get you through this time-consuming part of the process.

First, you have to do your part! That means you need to get your digital files corrected in advance, before you go in to print. Spell check all documents then proof again to make sure you don’t have any typos. Color correct and sharpen all placed photo elements. If you don’t know how to do this I have an early post that covers a simple direct method to improve the quality and consistency of all your images. On my blog home page search Photoshop tip 1 and it will bring up the post with step by step instructions. Check all resolution and make sure each placed file is 150 PPI at the size of reproduction. Make sure there are no files that are huge in both PPI and actual size. For instance if a photo is sized to print as an 8″x10″ image but the original image is a 10 megapixel image (10.8″x16.1″ at 240 PPI) you should reduce the original image to 8″x11.95″ at 150 PPI. This will make a smaller file that will print more quickly. You should also make sure that your images are not to small. Low resolution images are worse than images that are to big because the end print will show pixelization. If you got your image from the web it will probably be 72 PPI about half the resolution necessary for printing.

Second, once you have all your files adjusted you need to create a large carrier file in InDesign to place all your files or pages into. It is far easier and quicker to print one large file with multiple pages than it is to print each page separately. Here’s how:

Open InDesign and go to File, New, Document or command N.

New Document Dialog Box

New Document Dialog Box

Make sure the Intent box is set to Print, Number of Pages is set to 1 and the Facing Pages box is unchecked. Under the Page Size go to the Width and set it to 24 and the Height to 60. Set the Columns to 1 and the Margins to a minimum of .5 in. Bleed and Slug should be set to 0. Click OK and InDesign will create a single page document that is 24″x60″. If you find out later you don’t need the full 60 inches you can adjust the size or height of you document under File, Document Setup. If you need more than 60 inches create another document.

Start building your document by placing individual projects, pages or images in your InDesign file. Arrange each with at least a .5 inch margin so you can cut them out after you have printed the entire document. Try to arrange the elements so there is the least amount of waste or white space. The key board shortcut is command D to place images in InDesign.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 3.26.27 PMOnce you get your “Big Page” layed out you need to make a PDF to print. I have found InDesign to be a little better at creating PDF files than Illustrator. They seem to print a little better but all PDF’s are susceptible to printing errors. You may have to print one or more single image again. I suggest that you create your PDF in InDesign and use the High Quality Print setting.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 3.54.28 PMWhen the Export dialog box opens name your file and save it to your Desktop.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 3.50.18 PMWhen the Export Adobe PDF dialog box opens click Export. You do not need crop marks on this document because you will be trimming out individual pages. Here is a tip, when you finish your individual pages make a PDF file and include bleeds and marks on that file. When you place the PDF in the “Big Page” your crop marks will be in place for easier trimming. To do this go through the same PDF set up described above but when you get to the Export Adobe PDF dialog box, select Marks and Bleeds then check Crop Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings before you click Export.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 4.16.31 PMThat’s it! Prepare and just do it! GOOD LUCK.