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Design A to Z – Uncoated

With the weather outside at the moment, you certainly wouldn’t want to be uncoated. If you went out without a coat you would be drenched and very very cold! Just to clarify, for today’s post we will be looking at paper rather than fashion.

The two main categories that paper and board are available in are coated and uncoated stocks. We usually use the word paper to describe lighter weights of stock and board for heavier weights. Paper and board come in lots of different weights and thicknesses from very light and thin to very heavy and thick.

When paper is being manufactured it is either left in it’s natural state or it has a fine coating applied to it. As you can guess, if it is left without any coating it is called uncoated and if a thin coating is applied to it, it becomes coated – as simple as that!

Uncoated paper is used everyday for general office printing, newspaper and book printing. Uncoated papers are better for writing on and reading from. They have a matt finish and are available with lots of different textures. Heavier weights of uncoated papers are also available for use on business cards etc. Uncoated papers are more porous than coated papers, this means that ink tends to seep into the fibres of the paper. Colours will appear differently when printed on uncoated versus coated papers. Most recycled paper is uncoated.

Coating is a process by which paper or board is treated with an agent that coats the surface. This coating gives a smooth surface that colours tend to sit on when printed. Colours can appear more vibrant when printed onto coated paper. Coated papers are available in a gloss, silk (satin) or matt finish. Most flyers, magazines, posters and food packaging are printed on coated papers.

Pick up the nearest piece of paper to you and have a good feel of it, is it smooth or does it have a slight texture? Hold it up to the light and see if it has a shine or is it matt? Which do you prefer? We use both types for different projects here at curious. Our own business cards and stationery are printed on uncoated paper and board.

If you need any advice on the best type of paper to use in a printing project let us know!

Design A to Z – Typeface

Graphic Designers tend to love typefaces, and we are no exception! If you spend time around either of us, you are likely to hear the term typeface and font crop up in conversation.

While the two words are often used interchangeably they actually have two different meanings, so in this week’s Design A to Z we’re looking at the difference between the two terms.

Typeface refers to the design and shape of a particular set of letters, numbers and symbols. Type designers create typefaces. Times New Roman is a typeface, not a font.

Originally, when printing was still done with little blocks of metal or wood, the word font was used to describe a particular style and size of a typeface. Times New Roman Bold 12 point is a font.

Font is now also used to describe the digital file on your computer which contains the typeface information.

One way to understand the difference is to compare a typeface to a song and a font to an mp3. An mp3 file contains a song, but you wouldn’t say “Bohemian Rhapsody is an mp3 by Queen” you would say “Bohemian Rhapsody is a song by Queen.”

Not sure which typeface to use for your next project? Get in touch - we’d love to help!

Design A to Z - Serif

This week we are looking at the two main categories that type is broken into. Serifs and Sans Serifs. Whether these terms are familiar to you or not, I can assure you that you know at least two or three typefaces by name in both categories. If I were to say Times, and Arial to you, would either ring a bell? Can you think of any obvious differences between the two? Let me help you out…

In the example above, Times has serifs, these are highlighted in yellow. Arial on the other hand doesn’t have any serifs. A serif is a little detail or stroke at the end of a letterform or glyph. A Serif typeface has these little details and a Sans Serif typeface has no detail at the end of each letter. Sans meaning “without” in French.

Serif typefaces are traditionally used in large bodies of printed text such as in newspapers, books and magazines. This is because in general Serif typefaces are easier to read. However in an online environment it is widely believed that Sans Serifs are the best option as Serif’s can become distorted on screen.

There are countless typefaces available in each category, which are your favourites?

Design A to Z - Resolution

I know it’s only November so you are probably wondering why on earth I am bringing up the subject of resolutions before Christmas has even arrived. I’m not talking about the empty promises we make on New Year’s Day. Nope I’m talking image resolution.

In this instance, the word resolution describes the quality of an image. The higher the resolution, the better the quality of the image.

Digital images (photographs etc.) are made up of tiny coloured squares. These squares are called Pixels. Pixel is short for picture element. If you zoom right into any digital photo you will eventually see the individual square pixels that make up the photo. The more pixels there are in a photo, the better the quality and the higher the resolution.

This is a close up of a low resolution image of our logo. Notice the squares - these are pixels.

In order to describe the quality of an image, we use two abbreviations - PPI  (pixels per inch) and DPI (dots per inch). You have probably heard of DPI before, but perhaps not PPI. DPI is often used to describe PPI and vica versa. In printing, resolution is measured in DPI, this is because printers use dots of colour. For on-screen images, resolution is measured in PPI.

When an image has a high resolution, the pixels are small so more of them can be packed together creating more detail. Smaller pixels produce a smooth, high quality print. Because there are a high number of pixels the image file size is also large.

Low-resolution images have less pixels, these pixels are bigger and hold less detailed information. Low resolution images have a smaller file size.

Resolution becomes very important when dealing with print. In order to print clear and high quality images, they must be a minimum of 300 DPI. If your image resolution is less than this the quality will suffer and your image will look blurry or pixelated, like the image above.

If you need any help with sizing images for print or web, let us know!

Design A to Z - Questions

One of the reasons we called our company curious is because we think that getting to know our clients and understanding their design needs is one of the most important factors in producing good design. Because of this, the very first thing we do in any design project, before research, sketching or even quoting, is to ask questions.

Some people like to sit down and go through these questions in person, others prefer a chat over the phone, while others want a questionnaire which they can read through and email back. Regardless of the format, our questions usually fall into three broad categories -

Background Information
Style and Tone
Technical & Practical Requirements

Background Information
These questions help us to get to know you, your services/products and your industry. E.g. we will ask for links to competitors websites and for an overview of your company’s history, products and services.

Style and Tone
These questions help us to establish the style of design that you are looking for. We ask for links or examples of designs you like and (just as importantly!) dislike, as well as any company branding and logos.

Technical & Practical Requirements

This section covers the knitty gritty details of the project. For print design we ask for sizes, the number of pages and quantities required. For websites, questions include the number and names of pages, and information on any special requirements such as galleries, forms, event feeds, blogs, classified sections, social media integration etc.

Got some questions of your own? Get in touch, we’d love to help!