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Art Meets Automation: Streamlining Prepress

(August/September 2017) posted on Tue Aug 29, 2017

Shops don’t often look to their prepress department as a place to become more efficient, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t.

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By Thomas Trimingham

Another area to investigate is artwork creation. One common time saver you can consider is to create premade art templates that can be quickly modified. If you create the template properly, a whole page of designs can be automatically developed in seconds from a software script that applies text to each design.

An advanced process could include both hot folders and templates, enabling you to add a mascot and have it automatically generate a design (or even a group of designs) using the original file information. These files would then be saved into a separate folder for finished designs.

Art Approval and Revision
Many shops lose a tremendous amount of time revising files and sending them out for client approval. Automating these areas will not only save time, but also increase the throughput of your entire shop by getting orders into production faster. This, in turn, will push more capacity back into the art department so more orders can be turned around.

The simplest way to make art approval and revision more efficient is to identify what steps are the same on almost every job and figure out how to turn them into shortcuts. Common examples include setting up artwork onto popular garment backgrounds, adding in job information, and converting the final design into a PDF or JPEG image for an email attachment. The biggest differentiator between an initial art approval and a revision is to clearly, prominently mark every email to eliminate any confusion.

To automate your art approval process, you can set up a couple of macros in your design software. When one macro button is pushed, it will resize the finished artwork that is selected and put it in the proper position on a virtual garment. Another button would quickly add a job information bar to the bottom of the image, and after customizing this information to your needs, a final macro button would convert the resulting image into an emailable file that can be rapidly sent to the client.

A final consideration is to have swipe files for your email server. These allow you to format standard approval requests into text blocks that are selected and popped into emails in one step so that sending an art approval is a matter of seconds from start to finish.


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