Talk to your printer about which proofs you should build into your project timeline and budget. There are a number of different proofs that are available at different stages in your project. Printers will help you understand which proofs are best suited for your job. Here are the standard types of proofs you should consider.
A paper dummy uses the paper specified for the project to show how the job will be assembled. These types of proofs are useful in seeing how the project will look and behave after production. While often produced earlier in the design stage, it’s a good idea to ask the printer for another dummy that represents any changes before going to press.
The ink supplier will supply the printer with this proof. A drawdown is a special ink formulation prepared on the project’s specified paper. Ink drawdowns are the only way to see how ink and paper will interact before going on press. They are particularly useful when specifying uncoated papers to get a sense of absorption rates, or when attempting to match the same colors on different papers.
Loose color proof
If the job has color separations, a “loose color” proof is often recommended. These proofs allow the printer and designer to compare the scanned color against the original image. The purpose of loose color proofs is to review the hue, values, and overall balance of color tone. Proofs like a Kodak Approval proof may be produced on the actual, coated paper for the job.
Digital color proof
Less expensive than a composed proof, this type of proof (also called a “digital dylux” or “spinjet”) is a good gauge for color breaks, but is not as accurate for checking actual color as a composed proof. A composed proof can sometimes be produced on the actual coated paper stock for the project which is especially important if using a cream paper. Digital color proofs are also good for proofing the placement of text and images; cropping; finished size; reverses and tints; page sequence; crossovers and backups; traps; registration and folds.
Composed color proof
Helpful for checking color breaks once the loose color has been corrected. This proof will be used on press by client and printer to judge color and is considered by printers to set the expectations for color while on press.
This dummy of the job made with the specified paper is used for checking the scoring, in advance, for possible cracking.
Produced on an offset press, a press proof provides a reasonably close result to the final job when using the same paper and inks. It’s especially helpful when the reproduction of high quality artwork is paramount.