C is for computers~

Computers…we’ve come a long way baby~

I recall the day a designer gave me a disk that held artwork for their newsletter. Some reading this will sigh and recall their first time too.  Those simple disks quickly replaced artboards, overlays, strippers cutting ruby material, double burns….what?…back up! strippers? Could there be young people in the industry who have never heard the word stripper associated with printing? Many of the great strippers retrained to become some of the best prepress operators. The conversion from conventional stripping processes to computer prepress processes was difficult for everyone. Not only printers, but artists, illustrators  and photographers had to quickly learn a whole new way of handling artwork. Some adapted quicker than others.

Photo scanning was one of the first casualties of the computer. Before the computer, all original photography (the continuous tone photo) required sizing to the exact accuracy prior to scanning. If the sizing was incorrect the image had to be rescanned… Huh? Yes, the sizing had to be exact for the image to fit to the artwork. For assistance, there was a fairly easy-to-use enlargement/reduction wheel that would give you the  percentage of the original. I’d almost forgotten. It’s SO  much easier with computers, but of course new challenges arise with new technology. Personally, I had a difficult time looking at jobs on press during this transition. The images scanned on desktop scanners and approved for printing didn’t measure up to conventional scanning techniques and the trained professionals who had years and sometimes decades of experience. It was ugly for awhile.

Computers are obviously a great tool. While they seemingly reduce time and effort there remain challenges that still haunt everyone involved in the process. Many people still mistake the computer for talent. Creative talent is still a need for truly great work, whether you’re a graphic artist, illustrator or photographer.


2 thoughts on “C is for computers~

  1. the funny thing was that, in the beginning, desktop publishing was marketed as a way to “get rid of all of those high priced strippers”. What they found in the end was that computers were a tool, that replaced all of the analog tools of the time. The problem was that the computer was only as smart as the person running it, which pretty much related to the fact that if you did not have the experience to understand printing and how it worked, you couldn’t understand a lot of things you were asked to do (like trapping. Remember manually trapping files? ouch!)

  2. I certainly do remember manually trapping files! We actually used colorkeys to show designers what we were talking about. Because of the way colorkeys were made (overlays) they made it very easy to show the relationship of the inks to each other. ie, ink should trap into what ink and why. And, if anyone is interested I have a colorkey from the early 90’s. I use it as a teaching tool during a plant tour.

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