Rivkah רִבְקָה (lilrivkah) wrote,

Printing in Black & White - Lesson 1 of 20

Printing in black & white is quite possibly one of the least understood processes in printing today. In a culture that has come to celebrate color, black and white has settled into the historic background, a lost and nearly forgotten art. Why print simple black and white when you can print in strawberry reds, sunshine yellows, and prussian blues? Why would ANYBODY?

Because many people actually prefer black and white. But more importantly: because of cost.

Printing in color is expensive. Not only is the paper stock more expensive (often requiring a varnish and a fine paper with a minimum of dot gain bleached to brightest perfection) but so are color inks. There's CMYK process printing, Hexachrome, and an endless supply of Pantone color choices from which to choose. Which is great for covers and prints, but what about all those interior pages? Coloring is time consuming. Color is expensive. If you don't have your monitor calibrated, color never comes out the same in print.

So before you even begin any comic, you have to ask yourself: does your work look any better with color, or is your muse painted in black and white halftones??

Many comics look as good if not better in black and white than they do in color. A poor color job can take away all that hard work you spent on layouts and inks. Black and white creates a starkness of mood that is difficult to catch in the colored page. Black and white is easier to manipulate, to edit, and often easier to experiment with and correct.

But boy do people not know how to prepare or print it! Most people understand that color is printed at a standard of 300-450 dpi, but few understand the why, therefore creating complications when it comes to printing black and white line art or greyscale tones. Black and white production causes endless frustrations for those unfamiliar with its specific techniques. In order to tame this beast, you must first understand how it functions.

The purpose of this series of tutorials is to take you through the print production process so that you better understand how to scan, prepare files, and send them off to be printed ... or print them yourself. Topics will include:

Intro to Printing
The Halftone Cell
Dot Gain
Converting to 1 Bit Black & White
File Sizes & Types
Creating Tones From Scratch
Converting Flat Grays to Halftones
Variable Tones & Dithering
Choosing (and Using) a Laser Printer
Offset Lithography & Flexographic Printing
Choosing a Paper
Paper Resources

Along with a number of subcategories, numbering 20 lessons total (so far). Tutorials will include a combination of written essays and comics, but mostly comics. When I began to realize how lengthy this lesson was becoming, mon homme suggested serializing and turning it into individual comics, giving me the opportunity to experiment with different, tools, inks, techniques, papers, etc. So, for the first introductory comic, I started as basic as you can get: good ol' gel pen on 100% cotton paper. The two did NOT combine (the pen didn't like the toothiness of the paper), so there was an awful lot of cleanup in photoshop afterwards, but hopefully ....

You can still enjoy: :)

Updates will be when I can afford the time. Thankfully, they're at least all already written. :) This first one is, by far, the SHORTEST and the SIMPLEST. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Next Lesson: Explaining LPI and its uses
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