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Printing a high quality art book using uncoated paper

As a printer of high quality coffee table art books we typically use matte or gloss coated paper

Gloss or matte coated paper is the ideal substrate for optimal print quality of art books. It allows the printer to print a superfine dot that does not soak into the paper.

Coated paper also looks and feels more “expensive” than uncoated paper.

Recently two clients asked specifically for uncoated papers. I advised them that color accuracy would suffer if we use uncoated paper. Because inks soak into the paper, halftone dots spread and deform (this is called dot gain).

Generally, on uncoated paper:

  • The range of color is reduced
  • The brightness is reduced
  • The density range is reduced
  • Highlight and mid-tones get darker, but the shadow areas get lighter.

Why then would an artist want to use uncoated paper for the printing of his or her coffee table art book?

Why would an artist choose uncoated paper for the printing of his or her coffee table book? Uncoated paper offers the advantage of greater legibility, but this is not a major concern in art book printing. Budget-wise, uncoated paper is really not much more affordable than coated paper.

Uncoated paper offers the artist natural, earthy, recyclable and earth-friendly properties

The best color reproduction in an art book is of secondary interest to the clients who choose to print on uncoated paper. They go for a certain “feel” that coated paper does not offer. Even though many coated papers are now FSC certified, it is hard to find post-consumer recycled paper in coated category. There are some beautiful uncoated papers that are 100% recycled. Uncoated paper is also available in off-white shades.

Uncoated papers are available in many shades of whites and finishes

If you are considering printing on uncoated paper, you can request swatches of different surface finishes and color shades. We always try to accommodate your ideas!

Recommendations for printing on uncoated paper

Invest in a wet proof

My first recommendation to clients who express interest in uncoated paper is to invest in a wet proof. You can read more about wet proofing in my previous article here. Comparing your color file printed on uncoated vs coated paper will help you make the correct decision about how to proceed.

Plan your files for optimal color on uncoated paper

Secondly, plan your file preparation correctly for successful printing on uncoated paper. By opening the separation, the actual dot size is decreased and the space surrounding the dot is increased. This can be done in Photoshop → Color Settings → US Sheetfed Uncoated.

Consider printing part of your art book on uncoated and part on coated art paper

Another option may be to print part of the book on uncoated… and part on coated paper! This is what Adam French did. Part of the book features his concepts, notes and sketches – the parts printed on uncoated paper – and part of the book features his finished artwork. Reproductions of the art are printed on coated paper for optimal color reproduction.

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Coffee table artbook printer – your pit crew

To print with ArtBook Printing is comparable to a stock car race. Of course YOU, the client, are always in the drivers seat!

That time between 10:00 and 11:00AM, when we know that first fully-finished copy of a new artbook has arrived at our client, we sit on pins and needles to receive “the phone call”. By the time that book reaches you, this completely custom-made product has literally traveled through hundreds of hands, each requiring a specific professional skill set.

“First of all, IT IS GORGEOUS! We are all so pleased with how it turned out. The production value of this publication is exponentially higher than we anticipated. It’s just beautiful. Well done everyone! I’m so grateful for all of your hard work and diligence in seeing it completed with excellence.” 

 Your team at Art Book Printing… your “pit crew”

While “going fast and furious” is not recommended in our line of work, to design and print an art book with Art Book Printing is in some ways comparable to a stock car race. Of course YOU, the client, are always in the drivers seat! You make the final decisions …and determine how fast to reach the finish line! But the often unsung heroes in the pit crew are the professionals who make it possible for you to make your art book a reality.

Let’s find out what your pit crew does and why each member is so important.

Project Engineer/Sales Consultant

I am the first person you get to know when you contact Art Book Printing. I have many years of experience in all aspects of artbook design and production. After our first discussion I will prepare a custom quotation for you. Often many important decisions (quantity, size, paper etc) have not been finalized when I first meet you and that’s totally ok! I work with you one-on-one to help you make the right decisions for your book. This is why I do not offer a cookie-cutter price list. I help you make the best selections from hundreds of available options. I help you optimize your budget so you get the very best value for each dollar you invest. I make sure you receive the correct samples. During the entire production, I will be available to address concerns or new ideas that may come up.

Book Designer

I am one of four designers specialized in artbook design. I work with you because my design aesthetic best complements your art. I take in your files and make sure these “ingredients” will allow us to print and bind the finest quality artbook.

I consult with you about the creative approach and I provide you with concepts. I then build the cover and interior pages to the parameters you developed with the project engineer. I send you PDF proofs every step of the way as the book is developed. I will discuss options with you, not just in page design but also when it is time to select case fabrics, foil stamping tints and other embellishments. I value your input and direction!

Pre-press Manager

If you provide print-ready files, I make sure your files are indeed “ready to print”, meaning that they meet the specifications of the sales agreement and that they meet the needs of the production team. This is called Pre-Flight. If concerns pop up, I will provide you with details. You can then decide to adjust the files or we can do this for you. I make sure you receive templates for the cover and jacket. I will make sure our production team fully understands the file hierarchy.

Production & Logistics Manager

I am your go-to person as the project travels through production, from hard color proofs to printing, binding and shipping. I put together the production schedule with the team at the plant. If you need special consideration, such as advance copies for a show or opening, I go to bat for you to work out the best compromise.

I also manage the shipping and logistics after the books are completed. I make sure your artbook arrives at your final destination in pristine condition. I make special arrangements if your final destination does not have a loading dock or if this is a non-commercial address.

Sales & Production Assistant

I make sure that you receive everything you were promised, when it was promised. I can also assist you with cost updates and other information. I make sure you feel like you are our most important client ever and I take a lot of pride in accomplishing this.

Most importantly, we all work together for a common goal: to produce a coffee table art book of the best quality; the accomplishment of a lifetime!

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