Impress Me: Illustrating for Letterpress | Tom Froese | Skillshare

Impress Me: Illustrating for Letterpress

Tom Froese, Illustrator and Designer

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11 Lessons (1h 3m)
    • 1. Trailer

      1:52
    • 2. The Project: Design a Greeting Card

      1:05
    • 3. Letterpress Basics

      2:45
    • 4. Letterpress Lingo

      6:03
    • 5. Key Photoshop Tools

      6:23
    • 6. Step 1: Start Sketching

      4:20
    • 7. Step 2: Create Artwork

      21:07
    • 8. Step 3: Organize Layers by Colour

      3:03
    • 9. Step 4: Create Colour Separations

      4:34
    • 10. Step 5: Create a Digital Proof

      11:01
    • 11. Conclusion

      1:10
11 students are watching this class

About This Class

Everybody loves letterpress! With warm textures, beautiful colour reproduction, and an impression you can actually feel, letterpress is the specialty printing technique of choice for eye catching invitations, greeting cards and art prints.

What illustrator or designer doesn't dream of working with letterpress? But where to start? With a focus on letterpress basics and how they apply to illustration, this class is for anyone who wants to know more about this fascinating printing technique. Join illustrator Tom Froese as he walks you, step by step, through the process of designing a 2 colour greeting card for letterpress. Along the way, you'll learn about key letterpress concepts, incredibly useful Photoshop techniques, and you'll get a good sense of the differences between digital and print design. By learning and understanding these fundamental concepts and techniques, you'll be that much closer to the dream of having your work lettepress printed.

Those who have taken Tom Froese’s Inky Illustrations class will especially benefit from this class, as you will be able to pick up from his in depth creative process and take your illustration skills to the next level.

Transcripts

1. Trailer: Hi, I'm Tom Froese. I'm an illustrator and designer and the creator of the popular Skillshare class "Inky Illustrations". This class is called "Impress Me, illustrating for a letterpress". In this class, I'll show you how I create and prepare files for letterpress printing. Everybody loves letterpress, without even knowing what it is, people immediately sense with both their eyes and their hands that a letterpress print is different. With warm textures, beautiful color reproduction, and then impression you can actually feel with your hands, letterpress is a specialty printing technique of choice for eye-catching invitations, greeting cards, and art prints. With a focus on learning letterpress basics and how they apply to illustration, this class is for illustrators and designers of all levels who want to learn more about this fascinating printing technique. Those of you who have taken my Inky Illustrations' class will especially benefit, because we'll be more or less picking up where we left off. I'll show you what I do with an illustration when I'm ready to send it to letterpress printers specifically. In the class project, you get to design your own letterpress greeting card, and learn how to prepare your artwork to send to a letterpress printer, which happens to be not only a machine, but a very skilled person who operates it. Whether you plan on actually printing with letterpress, or you're just curious about how it all works. This class is certain to change how you think about print design. It may even change how you approach your illustrations as a whole. Are you ready to impress me? Great. I'm really excited to see what you guys do. Let's do this. 2. The Project: Design a Greeting Card: For the class project, you're going to design and illustrate a two-color letterpress greeting card. It can be for a birthday, a holiday, or any other occasion you can imagine. It can have hand-lettered or typed words, or it can just be a pretty picture. It's totally up to you. In the project, you're going to learn how to plan, design, and prepare artwork that is ready to send to a letterpress printer. Along the way, you're going to pick up some essential Photoshop and pre-prep skills that we'll be sure it will become vital design tools for years to come. During the course of the class, you're encouraged to share your process on your project page. It's always so great to see what you guys are making. Please, share your brainstorms, sketches, your plans, your final illustrations. I'll even award a billion bonus points to anyone who actually letter presses their piece. Are you ready to do this? Let's go. 3. Letterpress Basics: Before diving in, I wanted to give you a tiny primary on letterpress basics, how it works and what a letterpress print looks like. By understanding how letterpress works, you'll be better poised to make beautiful letterpress ready artwork. When Johannes Gutenberg invented the letterpress machine in the 1,400, he based it on a wine press which used a screw to clamp two blocks of wood tightly together. Instead of squishing grapes between these blocks, his machine pressed and engraved metal play on the one-block that was inked. He pressed that down onto the sheet of paper to make a print using very high pressure. Aside from a few modern enhancements, letterpress uses pretty much the same concept. The signature feature of letter press print is the way the ink areas are pressed and sink into the page, especially when the artwork is pressed on to thicker paper stock. You can feel the impression of the ink when you run your fingers over it. Another notable feature of a letter press print is the simplicity of colors. Unlike modern printing technologies like laser and offset, which can create millions of colors in a single pass. Letterpress has to print each color separately. For each color, there's a separate plate. Ink is rolled onto polymer or plastic plates, which are then press down onto the paper. Colors on letterpress prints, especially on greeting cards, have an uncommon purity and solidity to them. Modern printing like offset and laser use patterns of tiny dots of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black to create all the colors of the rainbow. You can print photographs, for instance. For letter press on the other hand, have to be mixed by hand or ordered pre-mixed before being laid down on the paper. Another notable characteristic of a letter press print is the way the paper texture can actually show through the ink and gives it a sort of grainy appearance. Illustrators, myself included often simulate this effect in digital illustration to give it a warm printer Lee vintage feeling. The overall effects of letter press printing, the impressions you can feel, the solid colors, the greeny textures. These are what make it so charming and desirable. Keep in mind, however, that the artwork we are creating, for letter press won't have these effects until they are actually printed. In this class, rather than learning how to simulate letterpress effects, you'll be learning how to create artwork that you could actually have printed on letterpress. 4. Letterpress Lingo: As I guide you through the process, I'll be using specific terms that relate to letterpress printing. In this section, I'll briefly go over the important ones. The first term is paper. Paper of course, is the physical surface on which your design is printed, but when we're working in Photoshop, or sometimes refer to the white areas of the artwork as paper, remembering that in the final printed piece, that's what we'd be looking at. The next term is ink or inking color. All color in letterpress printing results from ink being pressed down onto paper. I'll be using the terms ink and color interchangeably. Although ink, more specifically refers to the physical pigmented substance that gets printed onto the paper. The next terms I'll be talking about are solid shapes and fills. When I talk about solid shapes or fills, I'm talking about areas of solid color of any shape in your artwork. A solid shape might be a circle, a star, or it might have a more abstract shape like a zigzag or a blob. The next term is lines. When I talk about lines or line work, I'm talking about details and the artwork that are not solid shapes of color, but rather lines, outlines, squiggles, speckles and so forth. The next term is type. For our purposes, type refers to words in the artwork. I may use the words type, lettering or letters interchangeably. Type can be typed out with a font, or it can be hand lettered with a brush or Photoshop brush. The next terms are positive and negative space. Positive space refers to any part of the image where ink will be laid down. Negative space refers to any part of the image where ink won't be laid down. To give you a more concrete example, here I have a plate with a single letter A on it. The plate has areas that are raised, that's the positive space the plate also has areas that recede or are setback and that will be the negative space. Only the positive part of the plates will receive ink and be laid down onto the paper. The ink basically goes on the positive part of the plate and that gets pushed onto the paper. The next term is overprinting. When an area of ink color is printed over top in an area of a different ink color, it is said to be overprinted. The effect of an overprint is the layering of two ink colors to make a third. So imagine this Venn diagram here with two overlapping circles. One circle is yellow and the other is blue, where they overlap and overprint would be green. So here in Photoshop, of course there's no printing and the colors, the blue is opaque and the yellow doesn't show through. But in the physical print, if I were to print that blue ink over the yellow ink, the two inks are somewhat transparent and you would get an overlapping layering effect, where a third color is created by overlapping the two. The next term is knockouts. When a hole or other shape is punched out of a solid shape, the former is said to be knocked out of the ladder. Knockout actually most often refers to white type surrounded by color, where the letters are defined by the negative space where the ink isn't. Now we're going to talk about trapping. Trapping refers to the transition area between two colors. Imagine a print has a yellow circular sun placed within a larger area of blue sky. When the blue ink is printed, a hole would have to exist that would let the yellow of the sun show through. Otherwise the sun would print over the blue and look green. Ideally, the hole in the blue and the sun shape would be identical in size and be printed precisely over top one another. But in reality, the two colors will be printed over top one another slightly imperfectly aligned. One edge of the sun might print slightly over top the blue, while the other edge would miss it altogether and show a sliver of white, like in this example here. Trapping exists to compensate for this imperfect alignment. In such a scenario, the sun shape would be slightly larger than the whole of the blue ink. That would ensure that the ink goes all the way around to the edge and that no paper shows through. Too much trapping though in the sun would have a green halo. In this example, the areas of color on the inside, like the orange Mountains or the blue clouds inside the sun are perfectly trapped by the surrounding color. The final term I want to talk about is registration. Registration refers to how two or more inks are aligned in a print and as a skilled printer always make sure that this alignment is as perfect as possible. So we're jumping into Illustrator here just for a second, just to show you this is a Christmas carta designed a while back and it was a three color job with black, yellow, and pink inks and of course you can see that this right now it looks very messy and disorganized and what I'm showing you are the three plates not registered. But if we line them all up, you'll see that three colors work together to make a cohesive image and you'll see at the corners these strokes, these are called registration marks and basically they tell the printer how to align the plates. It's like I'm giving the printer a puzzle to solve and he can solve the puzzle by aligning those registration marks. 5. Key Photoshop Tools: In this section, I'll be showing you how I use certain Photoshop features and tools to design for letterpress. Throughout the project, I'll also be using Illustrator a little bit, and I'll show you how I do that as I go along. I'll also be incorporating some analog elements. If you want to know more about that and my creative process, be sure to check out my Skillshare class in key illustrations. So I'm in Photoshop here, and pretty fundamental feature of Photoshop is layers. You could draw everything on the background layer, but then everything you create is flat on that. It's like drawing on one sheet of paper. The benefit of having layers is you have these movable components that you can add, and remove, and delete without affecting other layers. Layers can have pixels. Right now I'm painting with a Photoshop brush in pixels on a layer. You can also use path shapes which occupy there own layers. I've just copied and pasted a layer. So this red circle, this yellow circle, and these squiggles are each on their own layers. Layer groups, on the other hand, are a way of further organizing your layers. Here I have one layer group that includes the two path shapes. It's mostly just for me to organize the artwork. Has no bearing. Whether it's grouped or not, the artwork looks exactly the same. Another feature we'll be using is the multiply tool. This just helps us simulate over prints. In the last section I talked more about this. But when we use multiply, it makes the layer that this effect is being applied to transparent and act as though it were a colored sheet of plastic basically. It helps us see what the effect of printing one ink over another might look like. It's very approximate. Another tool we're using in Photoshop is the pen tool. Anyone who's taken my ink illustrations class will know that I use this quite a lot. You can actually learn a great deal about the pen tool by taking that class. The basic thing to know about the pen tool is, you can make any shape, can be squares, lines, circles, squiggles, blobs, whatever with these outlines, and then you can fill them with colors which create our shapes. In Illustrator, this is called pathfinder, and in Photoshop, it works pretty much the same way. If you're familiar with the Illustrator version of this. Path operations basically determine how two paths on the same layer interact with one another. Stepping back for a sec, we have these two circles, one magenta and one yellow on two different layers. These are independent of each other because they're on different layers. If I change the color of one or re-size the layer, it doesn't affect the other. That's because these paths are not related. This path is for the magenta and this path is for the, what was the yellow layer here. I want to talk about what happens when you have two paths on the same layer. I'm going to go and delete the yellow and we're going to work just on this magenta layer. Let's go over here to our path selection tool. You can press "A" and you click that shape and you're going to see an outline of the circle path that defines the overall shape on this layer. I'm going to "Option", and then click and drag to make to circle pass on that same layer. You'll notice we still have only one layer, but two circle shapes, and these are defined in the path layer here. Path operations show when you're in the path selection tool, they'll show up here in the toolbar here, and you can use these to make the shapes on this layer interact in different ways. Let's just say I want to cut a chunk out of this circle shape using this circle shape. I'm going to just make sure the circle shape I just made here is selected and then go subtract from shape. You can see that the two circles exist and the one is knocking a piece out of the other. If that were smaller, I can change the size of this. I can put it in the middle. It is subtracting area out of the other shape. So that's how subtract from shape works. I'm going to go back. Now let's just say, I want these two shape areas to intersect. According to this little icon here, we should be able to see only pink in this canoe shape here. Then wherever these two shapes overlap, that will make a positive area. We'll finally exclude overlapping shapes. Anywhere that these two paths overlap will be a negative and anywhere where they don't overlap will be a positive. So we have our paths selected and then we'll go exclude overlapping shapes. We have the paper or the white popping through in-between them where they would overlap. 6. Step 1: Start Sketching: By this point you've learned what letterpress is and how it works. You picked up some key letterpress terms and you've learned some essential Photoshop tools that I use to design for letterpress. It's now finally a time to start the project. To start, we need to sketch and plan our greeting card. For this stage, all we'll need is some paper, a pencil, and your imagination. Now before I start sketching, I should give you the specs of the card we'll be designing for. The greeting card will be a tenfold card just like this. The dimensions are 4.25 inches wide by 5.5 inches tall. Our artwork will be on the face of this card, and the art will be in two inks. What I do at the very beginning of my sketches is, I just create thumbnails in the approximate size of the final printed piece, and start trying concepts. You don't have to be precious in this stage, you can just be really rough, it's really just about your idea at this stage. But I started wanting to do a candle that was really fancy because it's a romantic card. Maybe the caption would be, "I fancy you". Now once you've worked out your concept in your super-rough thumbnail sketch, you can then move on to a more refined sketch, where you work out how it will actually fit in the space of the card, and the actual dimensions, and make this sketch maybe look a little bit more refined. I've drawn a little bit outside the lines here in my sketch, but I can always just take this into Photoshop and correct how that fits later on. I'm working on a printed out sketch template. You can download the same sketch template on the project page. Now, I want to just start thinking about how this will work in my two ink colors. I've chosen a black ink and a pink ink. Don't be afraid just to start with any two colors for now, you can always change your mind later. I want the candlestick to be black, and then I want the candelabra to be pink, and the flames can also be pink. Pink circles with the flame knocked out. I don't always color in my card design plans or my sketches. The pencil crayons, I'm doing this more to just show you how I think about a design working in just two colors. The text would most likely be black as well. I might even try to make the candles glow or glare a little bit. Another thing I like to think about at this stage are opportunities for overprinting, because I like how one ink looks when it's printed over another. In this particular design, I'm going to make the bottom ends of my candles overprint the candlestick. It's a subtle touch, but it will add a little bit of visual interests in the final print. In your card design, don't be afraid to be a lot more bold than this with your overprints. I encourage you to be experimental and just have a lot of fun playing around with this technique. There it is, my sketch. I'm now going to scan this and take it into Photoshop and start building the artwork. 7. Step 2: Create Artwork: We've made our sketch and now we're ready to scan it in, take it into Photoshop and start building our artwork. During this stage, we'll be thinking mostly about making an image we're pleased with from a visual and creative standpoint, so you can make anything you want in your artwork as long as you are only using two ink colors and a paper. Those ink colors can overprint, they can be trapped. It doesn't matter how they exist in your artwork as long as you're only using two inks in your mind. Another thing, just to be mindful of, is details that are too fine, like a really tiny font or lines that are under maybe half a point or under a quarter point in width, will probably not print very well under the intense pressure of letterpress and it'll start to break apart. Apart from those constraints, you can really just do whatever you want in this stage. Once we're happy with our illustration, we can then shift our thinking to the technical side, which I'll be showing you in more depth in the next step. The first thing you want to do, at this stage, is scan in your refined sketch. When scanning it in, you can scan it in as black and white at maybe 300 dots per inch. You won't need a high resolution for the scan because it's just going to sit under your artwork as a guide. The next thing you want to do is create your artwork file. Create a new file in Photoshop and set the width to 4.25 inches and the height to 5.5 inches. Now standard print resolution is 300 dots per inch, but I always like to work in double resolution or 600 DPI, just in case I need higher resolution artwork for some unknown reason in the future. Now you can copy and paste your scanned and sketched into your new artwork file. At this point, I like to clean it up by erasing any of the excess marks or dusts or whatever are in the image and then use the levels tool to take away the paper texture and have a much more clean sketch to work from. To clean up the paper texture, use the levels tool by hitting command or control L, and then use the slider on the right to make the whites whiter, and the slider on the left to make the blacks blacker. When you're satisfied with how clean your image is, you can hit Okay and go on to the next step. Now we have our sketch nicely positioned in our artwork file and it's time to prepare ourselves to start building the artwork. The first thing I do is I rename my sketch layer here, just to sketch. I then set the opacity to 50 percent, and that just helps it not be so dominating when I'm building my artwork over it. The next thing I do is I create a new layer group and rename that to art, and all the artwork that I build, over my sketch, will exist in this layer. Just to show you an example of what that looks like, there's a piece of my candlestick and it's in the art group here. All my subsequent layers will end up being built in this art group. Now, as you can see, as I place these new art elements in my layer, they're blocking the sketch and that, as I build up my artwork, that could actually prevent me from seeing the sketch in order to actually trace it. The way I get around this, and the reason I make this art group, is that I can select that art group and I'll make it multiply over top the sketch, and now the sketch shows through my artwork. But when I turn off the visibility of that sketch, the layers within that art group are still opaque to each other. Now we're ready to start building up our artwork. To start, I'm going to trace my sketch with a Pen tool because that's how I like to work. You could also be tracing your sketch using a Photoshop brush, if you prefer to work that way, as long as the shape you're creating over top is solid as a color and doesn't have any texture to it, on the inside, it will turn out in letterpress. I'm just going to go and fill that shape I just made. The color of my choosing, I think I'll try pink for now, and I'm just going to continue building my artwork with this pink color. The whole candelabra will be the same color, so I could just build this all on the same layer. Every path I make within the same layer, it becomes part of the same overall shape. There's my candelabra. I'm now going to start adding my second color, so I can create a new layer and use my Pen tool to start tracing the candle shape. I can just fill that with black. Now when I work with black, I like to view it on screen in a way that resembles how it will look in print, when letterpresses printed black, very rarely, has a perfectly black appearance to it. It's softer and some of the paper texture shows too, so I use a slightly lighter shade of black just when I'm working on screen in Photoshop. Here's a good opportunity to show you guys what I mean about overprinting, when I'm working with directly in the artwork. Here, we have our black candle shape on one layer and our pink candelabra shape on a layer below. Now, how this black prints over this pink on the actual letterpress, depends on how you set up your artwork here. If we were to print this black layer over this pink air and these were inks, it would look something like this. I just set the multiply of this black layer here. You would see the two inks mixing wherever they overlapped. This is what I'm going to do in my file here. I want this little bit of overprint to happen. If you didn't want that overprint to happen and you wanted that black to look pure like that, then you would actually have to cut a shape like this out of the pink below, so that there was no overprint, instead, that black ink who's going directly over the white paper. How would you do that? You would have your pink shape selected and you would just cut out that part of the shape by drawing within that shape and then subtracting from it. Now, you can see we've created some trapping around the edges of this black part because I want these to overprint, this black to overprint the pink, I'm just going to undo what I just did there. It's a good time to start experimenting with different color combinations to see how they overprint. So if you had like a hot red and a cool blue, they're really going to create a contrasting color in the their. You can use some of your color theory too if you have a yellow and let's say a blue, you're going to get a green bonus color out of that overprint. Play around with your colors and you can really start getting a sense of how two colors, how you can really stretch your two ink colors. I've created my candelabra and I've created my black candle sticks. I'm now going to create the halos, so I'm just going to create a new layer. I'm just going to copy that path over. Sometimes what I like to do is make sure that the shapes aren't super identical to give it a bit of variety. I'm going to make sure that my path operations is set to combine shapes, and I'm going to fill that in with a solid color. So I have my flame halos and I want to knock out the flame shape within these halos. So with my color fill layer selected, I'm just going to make sure I'm in the task selection tool and I can select that layer. I know this path is selected when I have that little control nodes or points here. Now what I want to do is hit P. We use the pen tool and start tracing out that knockout, and referring back to our path operations, if I want to knock out that flame shape or any other shape out of fill. I need to subtract the front shape. It's already selected, so I'm just going to start cutting those flame shapes out. I should be able to do that for all of the halos because they're all part of the same color fill layer. So I'm now ready to start scanning in some of the analog textures and lettering that I made with ink on paper. So that would include the lettering here that says, "I Fancy You", and some of these other details of the candlestick, and of course, the sparkles behind the flames of the candle. So the first thing I'm going to do is go to my scanner here. Now, I've already hand lettered this with ink on paper. If you want to learn more about that, you can in my Inky Illustrations class. But scanning your art work or your inky textures like this in, you want to have good resolution, at least the resolution of the file you're working in. So I'm setting my resolution to 600 dpi. Now I'm just going to scan that in, and open that in Photoshop, and I'm going to use levels. I hit Command L there. As I slide this slider, the white gets whiter, and as I slide this slider on this side, from the left side toward the center, the black gets blacker and anything that's black and filled in gets really, really solid looking. If you put your mouse over either one of these left or right, little sliders here, and you hit Option on your Mac while you're doing it, what you get is this black and white preview of how clean you're making your file. I like to have that view and just really see those textured parts get filled in like that. We hit "OK", next thing you can do is use your Lasso Tool. I like to use the Polygonal Lasso Tool, and make a selection of my lettering there. I'm going to just copy that, the Command C, and go into my greeting card artwork again. Back in the file, I'm going to go to my Channels panel. I'm going to create a new alpha channel. I'm now going to invert, Command I, so that it's white, and then I paste my lettering from the clipboard. Now you'll see this is a hot tip, sometimes the artwork you paste into an alpha channel is too big and you need to scale it down like you see here. You can use a transform tool, Command T, just like you would in a normal layer, however, remember this, these two conditions must be met, otherwise you'll encounter strange things. So the first is a visible layer must be selected in the layers panel. It can be any layer as long as it's not hidden. The second condition you must meet in order to be able to transform your pasted alpha channel graphic is that no paths may be selected in the paths panel. So if the paths panel open before you try and transform, paste and transform into an alpha channel, make sure that none are selected by clicking anywhere beneath the bottom path there. So I was good to go. I met the two conditions. I can resize my artwork, and there's my, "I Fancy You" text. I'm going to Command I to invert the alpha channel again. Now this lets me command click. When I command click this alpha channel, it creates a positive selection out of any area that's white. So I'm now going back to my artwork. I'm just going to click on the art group there. I'm going to create a new solid color fill out of that selection that I loaded from my alpha channel. Then the last thing I want to do with this scanned in bit of image is convert to a smart object. This preserves the quality of this new raster layer. I can now make it small and big without losing any quality every time I do that. I'm now going to do the exact same thing for the white lines because it uses bottom line here, copy and paste into an alpha channel. So I can just delete this old alpha channel. I don't need it anymore. I'm going to create a fresh one, Command I to invert, paste, Command I again to make it black. Command, select that alpha channel to load a selection from it, and then fill it with a solid color, this time white. Final step I want to do is just make that a smart object just to preserve the quality. I wanted to add these white lines to my artwork just to break up that solid shape, adds a bit of visual interest. So I already had this scanned in texture from another project, fortunately. I think it's going to work great. So all I need to do is make sure it's cleaned up and make sure that some of these thinner parts are not present in the file and that makes sure that there's no lines that are too thin for a letter press. These little thin lines will not be picked up on letter press. At worst, they'll actually collapse under the pressure of the press and smudge the ink in ways that you didn't want to happen. Once you have a cleaned up file, copy that, paste it. Okay. I've created my sparkle objects and it's now a smart object. I've named it sparkle. Now I'm just going to resize it and put it in front of that halo there in that flame and copy it a few times. Of course, you don't want it to be totally obvious that you just cut and paste. Randomly rotate each one a little bit and make it look a bit more varied. Now, I don't want the middle part where all the sparkle lines converge in the center, I don't want that part showing through my flame, I want the flame just to be white. So I'm going to look first at the left sparkle here and create a layer mask with this little button. So I have my sparkle layer selected here. Down here it says "Add layer mask". You just click that and you get this little white box over top of it in your layer panel here. With your Photoshop brush, B for brush, as long as it's black color, you can just start masking out the part that you don't want. Go to this sparkle, which is the middle and add a layer mask. I can just draw that out. Of course, I want to mask out the middle flame part. Give it a bit more space. I don't want anything bleeding off the top there either. I also want to do the same for the last sparkle here on the right. So these guys are interfering. I got in the way there, some of them seem okay. Little bit of crossover is okay, I think. Okay. For now, I think that looks good. Maybe get rid of this little bit here. It looks like an accident. We don't want that. This looks a little bit too out of place here. So maybe I want to change the pink color to something a bit more peachy, a little bit more sophisticated feeling. Yeah, it looks pretty nice. You still get a nice little bit of the black overprinting the peach there, which I think will look great. The artwork is now complete. Now I just need to clean up all of the layers here so that there are only two layers, one for each color. 8. Step 3: Organize Layers by Colour: The next challenge is how to get all these layers into just two layers, one for the peach color and one for the black color. What I do is, I'll just save this file as our original artwork, and I'm going to make a new file called Greeting Card Separations one. Basically, we're going to create a folder, one for the peach and one for the black. Even though white's not technically a color, I'm going to make a third folder called white. I'm going to put anything that is supposed to be knocked out in the white. We know that the sparkles are black, so we'll put those in the black folder. This looks like it's an empty layer, so I'll just delete that. Anything that's black, these candle sticks are black, so we'll put that in the black folder here, the black group. These lines are all white, I'm going to put those all in the white folder. I fancy you, that's black and then these candle halos and this candlestick are all peach. I'm just going to select them all and drag them into the peach layer. We have our black layer, our peach layer and our white layer, which you obviously can't see unless it was over something else. So there's the white layer knocking out the peach layer and the black layer over top the peach layer. Now you'll notice that I have the black layer group over top the peach layer group. It would have made no difference if I had the peach layer group over top the black layer group, because these are both going to print over top one another, and the end result would be the same either way. Now that being said, it is important how the inks print over top one another. What I do to get an approximate preview of this overprint effect, is I select both layer groups, both the black and the peach in my case, and then I set the layer blending mode or transparency setting to multiply, and this gives me an approximation of that overprint effect. 9. Step 4: Create Colour Separations: So we have our layers all divided and separated by color. We have peach and black, and then just the white layer on top where we have placed any layer that was white or a knockout. The next thing to do is to create our plates or color separations. Before anything else, we should save one copy of the file for each color. First, let's make a folder called plates, and then we'll see one file called peach, and save another called black. In our peach file, let's keep our peach layer here, and we'll just remove anything that's black. We'll need the white layer in this file because the white layer knocks out or masks out the spaces that we want. In this case the lines on the candle stand. So once we know we have all the peach information in our file, and none of the black, we just go and flatten the image and discard all hidden layers. Now it's just a flat file with all the image information on a single layer. So our ultimate goal here is to convert this to a bitmap file, which we can't do just yet. You can see the option to convert to bitmap is grayed out. So along the way, we need to first turn this into a gray-scale file. This removes all color. Once it's in gray-scale, we can then convert it to a bitmap. Before we do that though, we want to make sure that all this gray is a 100 percent black. As you remember, we're not printing this in a 100 percent black, but the technology that creates the polymer plates can only see black or white. Black will define raised parts of the plate or the positive space, and the white will define receded parts, the negative space. Raised parts of the plate will receive the ink and receded parts of a plate will not. There are no gray areas on a plate, and that's why we need our plate file to be a 100 percent black. So to make that gray, you can hit Command Shift L on your Mac, and that will push anything that's a shade of gray to 100 percent black. The keyboard shortcut Command Shift L will decide for you how adjusts your blacks and whites. If you want more control over this process, of course, you could always just use the levels adjustment tool or Command L and adjust it their more gradually. As for me, I'm pretty confident that I can use this keyboard shortcut and the black and white conversion process will work out. Now finally, we can convert our file to bitmap mode. Now, when we convert to bitmap, we want the output to be 1,200 DPI or pixels per inch, and we'll set the method to 50 percent threshold for now. Press "Okay", and we're done the peach color separation or plate. Now we're going to go over to our black file here, and remove any of the peach. The white doesn't really apply here. The white layer exists, but it's not covering any of the black, so it doesn't matter. So we'll just go ahead and flatten the image to scale hidden layers, that's fine. We'll turn it to gray-scale before we do our levels. Then the last thing we need to do is adjust our levels. This time I'll show you just doing it manually without the shortcut I showed you with peach. This gives you a lot more control over what parts actually remain, and get black. I just want to make sure everything's nice and crisp. The further you pull in this right little node here, this little slider, the more it's going to encroach on the black, and we'll get rid of noise and grain. When it looks good to you, you can hit "Okay". You can now convert to bitmap. Again, you want your resolution to be 1200 DPI, then use the 50 percent threshold method. There we have our black plate. 10. Step 5: Create a Digital Proof: At this point, we've created our color separation files. We have one file for each color to be printed. The next step is to create a digital proof in Adobe Illustrator. The proof is a way of proving to ourselves that the files will print over top of each other correctly. It's also a convenient and organized way to send your artwork to a press person. Now we're in illustrator, and this is where we're going to set up our digital proof. The first thing you'll want to do is, in illustrator create a new file called Greeting Card Proof. We'll make it letter sized and oriented horizontal, for this case is the flattened, opened up card will be horizontal. First thing we're going to do is create three layers. We're going to have one layer for each of the inks. I guess we know what those will be, so one will be black, one will be peach, and then we have a top layer called info, which will be descriptive information. That'll be useful to anyone who has to look at the file in the future. We'll create a rectangle that will be double the width of the folded card, which is 8.5, and the height is still 5.5. Here we have the dimensions of a flattened greeting card. Of course, there will also be a fold line there, and we can just save that in our plates folder. We'll call it Greeting Card Proof in our plates folder alongside the color separations. Now I can start placing my color separation files into my digital proof here. I'm going to make sure that my peach layer is selected by clicking on the Target, and that's the layer I want to place my peach color separation file. It's going to place that right inside the front panel of my greeting card, and then I'll do the same for black. I'll hit the black layer and make sure I click that target so that I'm on the black layer, Go File, Place, and then select the black color separation file. Just make sure that everything aligns over top. You can use smart guides or snap to make sure everything is perfect, so that's what I'm going to do, I'm just going to align these using the align. Make sure that the peach and black squares are perfectly aligned to each other, and then I can turn back that in full layer on and drag these guys in there. Perfect, so now we're looking at a pure black and white only version of our proof, and of course we want to see how this looks in colors. What you can do with these color separation files, which are bitmap files, is select them and actually color them with the swatches. So just by making sure the bitmap file is actually selected, clicking the swatches panel, you can color the artwork. Of course, I had selected peach color for the candle base and a black color for the candles. But one other thing we want to be able to preview in our proof here is the overprints of course. You do that by selecting them both as I've done here, and then also hitting Shift, and clicking the little targets for each layer there, and then go to the transparency setting and set it to multiply, and you'll see here how you can see that simulated overprint really nicely. Now I'm going to make these colors look a little bit more like the inks I planned on coloring them. So a sheet of black for the candles, and then for the candelabra itself, I'll make that a peachy color. Now we're looking at a digital approximation of the final card. Now it's a good idea to add some extra information to identify the contents of this file to whoever has to work with it. I've just placed in the top left corner, my name and some information about the file, including an ID and a description and the folded dimensions. Another thing you might want to do is add a signature or your logo on the back panel of your card. Looking at your layers, pick the ink color you want that back logo or signature to be. I'm going to make mine in black I think. I'm going to pick my black layer and just type a tidy little design by line here designed by Tom Froese, and hopefully you don't need to stick to myriad or aerial as your font. Pick your favorite font, if myriad is your favorite font, that's okay too, no judgment. Just make sure it's maybe not smaller than five points. I'm now going to switch modes here just to talk a little bit about Pantone inks. This is the Pantone swatch book or fan book, and it has many squares, each of a different color and associated with a level of codes. Those codes are called Pantone numbers, and those Pantone numbers or Pantone codes, always relate to an exact specific color, so that when you tell a printer you want to print in one of those colors, he know exactly what you're talking about and you'll never have to worry that, it will be on. Now Pantone colors come in two effective flavors, coded and uncoded. Coded has a sheen without a varnish, and in letterpress printing, we typically don't work in coded as it's not something you do in letterpress. When referencing your colors in illustrator in Photoshop, if you're using the Pantone system there, uncoded is the way to go. Now that you know a little bit about what Pantone colors are, it will make more sense to you when I show you how they work in Illustrator. Here I am in my swatches panel, and if you go just down here, there is a little color library's icon, you just go down there to color books, and here, a whole bunch of the Pantone color books listed here. Mine are the ones I'm particularly working out of are Pantone color bridge series, and I'm using the uncoded of course. I'm just going to click that book to open it. There are a whole bunch of colors, all of these are in my fan book and now represented here in digital format. I've already picked out my colors, and those colors are black, so Pantone black, and I click on that swatch and it just adds it to my mean swatches panel here, and also the peach color turns out to be 487, so you can just type in the number here in the search panel and then it shows up. Now I have my peach color and my black color. You can see the black looks very like washed out in Illustrator, and that's just because colors look so different when they're printed than what you see on screen, especially when you're working with Pantones. The next thing to do is actually apply these colors I've picked to the plates. I'm going to go to my black plate first, I'm going to click that target to make sure the black plate is selected and then apply my swatch. I'm going to do the same thing to my peach layer. Click the target, and then click the Pantone swatch in that layer, and when I do that, when I selected everything, not just the color plate, but also my little signature here. The next thing we want to do is rename the layers to the exact Pantone codes. For black, it's actually just black, that's are code for that, and for peach, it's 487, and you can leave the info layer as info because that's not a printing layer. Now, if you want to look really pro, you can also add this swatch reference to your proof file. On the top right corner there, I've added a black rectangle, which is on the black layer, and then a peach rectangle which is on the peach layer, and I've just typed in the name of those colors over top, that's the actual Pantone code. That's just a convenient reference for those colors, because someone looking at this file might not be looking at the layers right away, and it just makes you look really organized, and it's neat and tidy and I like that. Congratulations, you've now successfully created a digital proof of your greeting card. The only thing left to do is to send it to the printer. Now, we've been pretty organized by receiving all of our files in this plates folder. We have our two separation plates for your peach and your black, and then we have our proof file, which we're looking at right now. Those are the only three files your printer will need. So you can just package those up in a zip file, send them by e-mail if it's fallen out, or share it on the Cloud. 11. Conclusion: Congratulations, you're done. I hope you learned a ton about illustrating for letterpress, and I hope you had a lot of fun along the way. In this class, you gain the know-how to create letterpress ready artwork by designing a simple greeting card in a class project, you learned how to sketch and plan your illustration and build the artwork in Photoshop. You then learned how to organize and prepare your color separation files, set up a proof in Adobe Illustrator and package it all up to send to a letterpress printer. Designing for letterpress without having much experience with the technology can seem like a mystery. My hope is that through the knowledge and skills taught in this class, you'll have a better understanding of how letterpress works and therefore how to create the best possible artwork for it. Getting work letterpress printed is a dream for many. The skills you learn in this class will put use so much closer to making that dream a reality. Thank you so much for taking my skillshare class. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you guys do in the class project. I'm looking forward to answering any questions you might have along the way.