Week 18: Printing Files 😊

05. April 2021


  • In the next update we will inform you about the voluntary immortalization of your names on our website (part of the pledges).
  • Please send address changes directly to ([email protected]).
  • In this update I will give you a deeper insight into the creation of print files.
  • Soundtrack of the Week: By Your Side - Argyle Singh 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a nice Easter (or just a nice weekend if you do not celebrate Easter 😊). As promised, this week I will tell you something about preparing print files. Before that, though, a few quick points....

Next week's update will be about the immortalization of your name on our website. How we will collect the names/how you can provide your name etc. I will address of all of this next week.

Additionally, I can only repeat myself, if you have changed your address or are moving soon, just let me know your new address with an email to [email protected] (do not you KS personal message or the comment section). Gamefound is now closed i.e. your data is on my local computer and if you want to change something, only I can do that 😊.

Then a small question: Two boardgame developers from Switzerland (that Samuel and I know), who want to bring their game on Kickstarter in the second half of this year, have made an English translation of their French rules. Now they would need someone to proofread the English translation. If someone wants to help them with this (not for free of course) feel free to contact me by mail, I will then connect you by email. I know that there are some backers who have already worked on many translations.

But now to the main topic...

Print Files

Print files are always something scary, because if you hand them in and give the "OK to print", there is no going back, i.e. from then on, every mistake is immortalized. To prevent this, it is always worth working very carefully. In general, it should be noted that for each print component of a game, one or more print files are submitted. In P'achakuna, for example, there is one print file for the assembly plan, several print files for the punchboards, one file for the rulebook and one for the box. Print files are always submitted as PDF, any printer that takes anything other than a PDF would seem strange to me. What formatting you have to use depends entirely on the printer. What I can simply recommend is...

1) Do a ZIP compression and not a JPEG compression. This sounds very technical, but look at the balloon image below, those ugly blurry pixels are called JPEG artifacts and you do not want them.

I don't like artifacts :P

2) We would also advise you not to choose too extravagant fonts. For our first game Darwin's Choice we found a beautiful font, but when printed it created black lines (inside the letters). This is called "stitching" and can only be solved by transparency flattening or simply by converting the text into a path (i.e. it is then no longer a font, but simply a shape in form of a letter). Transparency flattening interestingly leads to white lines, which are not printed xD you see, it takes some experience to understand PDFs. Besides, this is exactly the reason why we always make at least one print proof before production, which we then check millimeter by millimeter. That is the only reason why we discovered those black lines early enough for Darwin's Choice or some ugly JPEG artifacts for Darwin's Encyclopedia.

Nice font, but strange lines :P

Also strange but does not get printed xD

3) One thing that good printers also require is that you include/lock a color profile in the PDF. To understand this, you need to know that colors are produced differently on your computer or smartphone than they are in your printer. Digital colors are called RGB, i.e. your screen produces colors from red (R), green (G) and blue (B) lights. Where all colors shine at the same time, white is created. In printing it is different, there all colors are made of Cyan (C), Magenta (M), Yellow (Y) and K (Black). These RGB colors must now be converted or translated into CMYK colors for printing. That is why you want to "include" a color profile in the PDF, so that it is 100% clear which RGB color leads to which CMYK color (the profile just defines that RGB color 1 is converted to CMYK color 17). Otherwise, the colors may end up looking quite different from what you intended.

The same colors but created with two totally different procedures.

4) What also should be clear is that all data should be 300dpi (i.e. 300 dots per inch). This is the printing standard. Submitting files higher than this is not really useful, because more than 300 dpi will not be printed at all (everything below 300dpi will most probably look blurry). How sharp the final result will be depends to a large extent not only on the print files, but also on the quality of the printers used. This is the reason why we really love to work with Ludofact. Their print quality is really perfect, colors are crisp/strong, and everything is 100% sharp.

In summary, Print Files are PDF files, which hopefully you have created correctly 😉 but besides their formatting, there are of course other aspects to consider. There is a central concept that runs through all print files. It is about bleed and margin.

If you understand this concept, you can stop reading now XD

The Trim Line is the line where the cut is made. Because this happens in large machines, this cut can vary, i.e. it can deviate up, down, left, and right. For many printers, this deviation is 3mm. So to be sure that no "white" is visible, you have to add 3mm bleed on all sides of each component/artwork. In addition, towards the inside, everything important that should not be cut off must have at least 3mm (margin) from the edge. Mostly the margin is even bigger than the bleed e.g. 5mm. This is done so that even in extreme cases the font/image has e.g. still 2mm distance to the edge of the card. Because it would look quite ugly, if the font starts right at the edge of the card. Let us have a look at this example picture of the demand flags of P'achakuna.

Bleed (Red) and Margin (pink) :)

As you can see, we have 3mm artwork around the cut, so that the white is not visible. Remember punchboards you have had in your hand until now; they always have such colored borders around the actual cut. But this technique is used everywhere, i.e. also with every card, with every rulebook, with the box etc. There is also bleed everywhere, only you do not see it there, because everything is already "punched/cut" and you don't have the "remains" still in the game like with the empty "frame" of the punchboards. This also means that the Assembly Plan below has a bleed, however it is simply cut off by Ludofact :)

Do you like the Assembly plan Design? :)

Rulebooks, posters, cards etc. all work exactly the same. On the first rulebook page, for example, you can see that we have added bleed all around and we have a margin on the inside. Also (blue arrows) we added an additional margin. For books this makes sense, because with books it is the case that the pages are pulled into the fold in the middle. Information that is too close to the center/the fold is no longer readable, or only if you pull the pages apart. Sure, this is not the case with a small 16-page booklet, but definitely with our 170-page Encyclopedia.

Samuel created the Design for the rule book :)

What you also see in this view are the light blue support lines, we use these to make sure everything is perfectly aligned (no worries, they are ofc transparent and not visible on your punchboards xD). This is especially central with punchboards, because with these the front and back have to match perfectly, if they do not you might have a perfectly aligned image in the front, but everything is half white in the back. All punchboard fronts and backs have to be perfectly mirrored. With InDesign this is fortunately possible to the thousandth of a millimeter.

Punchboards are a pain to create :P there is so much precision needed.

The only print file that works a bit different is the box. For this one you get a template (= green lines) from the manufacturer, which you then have to fill with artwork. The corners of Johanna's artwork are nice, but will never be visible on your box :P

So much artwork will be cut off :P

As you can see on the back of the box, we again work a lot with support lines. The box is just tricky in that you have to consider bleed and margin everywhere. I.e. each side has a Bleed and a Margin i.e. so that the box back really stays on the back, it must have 3-5mm distance from the edge, the same with all sides.

So many support lines O.O sometimes confusing to be honest.

There would be quite honestly still thousands of details to explain, but that would go too far. I think for you as backers this should be enough in depth. If you have specific questions, you know where to find me ;)

Have a great week now 😊 I hope the update was interesting again and we learned something together 😉 Thanks for reading!

With best regards,

Marc & Samuel