Easter Photos + Wide Format = Special Memories for a Lifetime

Posted by Universal Printing on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 @ 03:45 PM

Nothing says SPRING quite the same way that the Easter holiday does.  The weather is getting warmer, the grass is getting greener, and flowers and trees begin to bloom with vivid colors.  It’s a time for reflection and renewal, breaking out of the “cabin-fever” of a cold and grey winter.  For many people, it’s a time to get together with friends and family. Some dress up in their Easter finest, with brightly colored Easter hats, Easter dresses, Easter shirts and ties.

It’s inevitable… wherever you have warmer weather, sunny skies, and friends and family together, SOMEONE is usually taking photos.  Digital cameras, which were once a high-tech luxury, are relatively common today.  Most cellphones offer built-in digital cameras that rival the standard digital cameras of just a year ago.  If social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, and Tumblr are any indication, people are capturing moments more than ever.

Need ideas for which memories to capture?

Enjoy your Little Picasso or Van GoghMaking Easter crafts, like painted or dyed eggs or colorful Easter baskets, are a great what to spend quality family time.  Sometimes even prepping for this is almost as much fun as the activity itself.  It’s not every day that your kids are eagerly crowded around the table with paintbrushes and aprons so take advantage by grabbing your camera and start clicking away. Imagine the scene of wild and happy children smiling and laughing in their paint covered aprons while holding up their colorful Easter creations!

Bunnies and Puppies and Chicks, Oh My! There are only a few days out of the year that you can get away with dressing your child like a cute and cuddly animal. Enjoy this chance to see your kids dressed up and take pictures of them holding bunnies, puppies or baby chicks! Or even dress your babies or small children as bunnies and grab your camera!

To the Egg Hunt Imagine the scene of your kids and others running around lush green grass surrounded by newly blooming flowers, while toting decorated baskets filled with brightly painted eggs.  There is nothing more precious than the looks of concentration or pure joy a child’s face while he or she looks for and ultimately finds these fun little Easter treasures.   All the while, you should be busy snapping away with your digital camera!

Family ties are ties that bindAs typical families get spread further apart, holidays are the few times a year when the whole family might get together. Take advantage of these opportunities to capture your family and you’ll be amazed at how fast the children grow and how special it is when you span generations!

Universal Printing Wide Format | Easter Poster Ideas

So I have AWESOME pictures… Now what?

Now that you have captured great moments and wonderful memories, your snapshots are PERFECT for Wide Format.  Instead of just posting to an online album, or sticking them into a scrapbook or photo album, try THESE creative ideas to display them as colorful art in your home.

  • Think BIG and instead of a simple 4"x 6" picture, make a 24"x36" poster suitable for mounting or framing.

  • Turn your snapshot into art by having it printed on canvas material.  Photoshop effects can even give it a hand-painted or chalk-pastel look. 

  • Consider using a special backlit material to create an even more unique display piece for your home. There are several affordable backlit frames available online, or you can even DIY.

  • Cover all or part of a wall using a removable wall cling.  It’s a great way to change make family memories larger than life, and you can change it out seasonally.

If you would like to discuss any of these or other options, you’re always welcome to contact any member of our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They are always more than happy to help you find creative ways to use Wide Format Printing.

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: tips and tricks, commercial printing, digital printing, Photos, Digital camera, poster printing, wide format printing, Posters

Universal Printing's Elite Eight!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Mar 18, 2011 @ 03:15 PM

NCAA March Madness 

"It's NCAA

Tourney Time,

Baby!!!" 

- The Legendary
"Dickie V"
Dick Vitale

Yes... Universal Printing produces a bunch of of projects and ships them all across the country and throughout the world, but our base of operations is smack in the heart of North Carolina. Specifically, the Triangle — That happy bustling region that includes Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, but also encompasses Apex, Carrboro, Cary, and Morrisville. 

Around here, we like our College Basketball!  We're surrounded by 4 of the 12 ACC teams (UNC, Duke, NCSU, and yes I'm counting Wake Forest!) and when it comes down to "Tourney Time," we are right here in the thick of it!

So in honor of "March Madness" and the NCAA Basketball Tournament, we're posting our own "Elite Eight" of our 8 most popular blog posts.  We hope you'll take the time to read or re-read them, or share them with friends and colleagues!  In the meantime, we'll be rooting for Duke and Carolina, and the other ACC teams representing the Atlantic Coast this weekend.

  1. Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Coated vs. Uncoated

  2. Tips to enhance your graphic design portfolio

  3. More about Color: Digital Color | RGB vs. CMYK

  4. Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Spot Color vs. Process Color

  5. Direct Mail... Back-in-the-day or Future Play?

  6. Choosing Inks for Color Printing - Metallics and Other Specialty Inks

  7. How to Save PDF files for Better Printing!

  8. Tweet me... Social Media and Commercial Printing CAN work together!

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, tips and tricks, commercial printing, Universal Printing, blog, Social Media, direct mail, poster printing, Photohop

Commercial Offset Printing: Just Ink on Paper… or IS it?!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 @ 04:00 PM

It should be pretty clear to anyone who knows and does business with us, that we love what we do!  Each day is different, filled with new projects and opportunities (and occasionally some  “curve balls” to troubleshoot and solve.) But I can promise… it’s NEVER boring!  We work on a lot of different types of projects, too.  Sometimes we have an awesome graphic design project in-house or some large direct mail project, other times we’ll have complex kits to produce and assemble.  It’s safe to say, that every project we work on is unique and important in its own way.

BUT… sometimes we get to work on a project that stands out because it’s more than simply ink on paper: It’s the opportunity to change someone’s life forever.  Last week we were fortunate enough to take part in one of those projects.

For the past few years, we’ve produced posters for the Army Navy Photograph Print Project. Each year, during the Army/Navy Game in Philadelphia, the Corp of Cadets from the US Military Academy and the Brigade of Midshipmen from the US Naval Academy take part in the March-On celebration. Photographs of each group are taken and later “digitally stitched” together and become the subject of two highly detailed panoramic posters.  Once the poster files have been prepared, they are presented to us in the form of high-definition Photoshop files and photographic prints.  Most people realize there is a decent amount of color shift between photographs and process-color printing.  Of course, as GRACoL G7 Master Printers, our calibration curves and color profiles allow us to address these color shifts easily and accurately.  Even the photographer himself, who comes to press-proof the project each year, seems amazed at how accurate our press run is compared to his original photographs.

Operation Support Our Troops PostersThe proceeds from the sale of these commemorative posters have gone toward providing incredible things in support of our troops.  Everything from fully equipped handicapped accessible vans (given to war veterans who’ve lost limbs in action) to neoprene face masks (for soldiers actively on duty in temperatures at or below freezing) have been purchased with the help of this project. Sizable donations to other support organizations, like Returning Heroes Home, have also been made.  It’s simply an amazing project and does so much to help our troops.  No matter what your race, religion, or political affiliation, we all seem to find common ground when it comes to our support for the men and women who dedicate their lives to preserving our freedom.

So at the end of the day, we produce high quality printing, standout graphic design, and an amazing array of other products and services.  We don’t save lives; but in a small way, the part we play in projects like these helps CHANGE lives… and that feels pretty darn good!

For more information about this project, visit the Army Navy Photographic Print Project

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, commercial printing, G7, Adobe Photoshop, color correction, calibration, poster printing

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 2

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 04, 2011 @ 03:00 PM

So you want to know even more about paper, eh?  I don't blame you. Our previous blog post went over some of the basics of paper, like the type of coating or finish, and caliper, weight and bulk.  This post will cover opacity, brightness, shade and grain. Let's get started!

Opacity is just a fancy way of saying the "show through" or "see though" quality of the paper: As in, how much will the printing on the other side of the page "show though." Some papers are categorized as "opaque" sheets, as opposed to "offset" or "bond" papers.   As a general rule, the thicker the paper, the less light gets though; however less bulky papers like vellum are thicker but less dense, leaving more chance for light (and printing) to come through.  Text-heavy projects like annual reports, manuals, or product brochures should be printed on paper with more opacity.

Next in line come brightness and shade.  It would sound like those are the same thing, but in reality they aren't. Brightness is the overall visual appearance of the sheet in terms of how much light they reflect. As you may recall, ink is slightly translucent, which means the brightness of the paper effects the brightness and vividness of the color. Brightness is measured on a scale of 0 to 100; which is to say a sheet measuring as 96 bright is more reflective than a 92 bright sheet.  

Shade refers to the whiteness of the paper. Don't be fooled and think we're talking about the color.  If the paper is light blue, dark blue, yellow, red, cream, natural, eggshell, that is its color. Shade is all about white: Blue White, Yellow White (also called Cream White), and True White.  Papers made with optical brighteners tend to have a cooler hue. These absorb warmer colors and give off more of a faint blue tint. Yellow white uses no brighteners and have a warmer more yellowish hue.  True white is a perfectly neutral sheet.

Boring Science Fact: White light is built of all colors (ROYGBIV) and travels in wavelengths. Blue light has a short wavelength and travels faster, while red and yellow light have longer wavelengths and travel slower. So a Blue White sheet appears to be visually brighter than a yellow white sheet because your eyes actually "see" it first!

Finally it's time to talk about Grain. We all know paper is made from trees, so it would stand to reason that if wood has a grain, so should paper!  In order to make paper, all these trees are ground down into fibers and mixed with water, resin and other stuff (which altogether is known as pulp) and run through huge paper machines that form them into large rolls. Between the speed these machines run and the process the paper pulp goes through, the fibers naturally all tend to line up in the same direction which is the grain direction.  Paper is then cut down, and can be either long grain or short grain. Long grain means the grain direction runs with the longest side, and short grain means it runs along the shortest side.  

The grain direction of your paper can play a very critical role in your project. You've likely heard the expression "going against the grain."  All paper is flexible, but it's always more flexible along the direction of the grain. This is important when thinking about folding projects. When you fold against the grain, the fibers break and crack, which appear ragged and less crisp.  This can easily be addressed by scoring a piece, which pre-creases the sheet and breaks down the fibers in a more controlled way.

Fortunately, we never expect our clients to know everything there is to know about paper.  If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.  We also get to work with some wonderful paper vendors that are always willing to assist with answering questions or providing samples of any paper you can imagine. 

 

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Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, direct mail, poster printing

Choosing Paper for Your Printing Project... Part 1

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Jan 28, 2011 @ 12:30 PM

Paper comes in all colors, weights, and finishes; and sometimes our customers know EXACTLY what paper they want. More likely, we'll take in a project where the client won't have a clue what they want, or even need.

When choosing paper, we need to know some paper lingo. Let's start with the surface of the paper. Is it Coated or Uncoated? There are different types of coating, based on how shiny it is. Gloss is the smoothest and most reflective. It’s perfect for photos or flyers; anything that needs a quick visual POP. Matte is on the other end of the scale. It reflects very little light, so it’s easier on the eyes when reading text. Paper companies don’t have any rules for how they categorize coatings. There are a lot of in-between terms – Silk, Satin, Dull – but each is still coated and takes ink very well. Some papers are coated on one side and uncoated on the other, called C1S (for “coated 1 side”). With both sides coated it would be C2S, but it's generally just called Coated.

Uncoated sheets have different surfaces called Finish. Most common are Smooth, Vellum, Felt and Embossed. Again, some paper companies like to be fancy and come up names like “Super Smooth” or “Laser” to describe the finish of their paper. Ink lays down well on most of them, but you’ll want to be careful when using toner-based printers or copiers. This is especially true with Embossed papers like Linen (cross-hatched like fabric) or Laid (similar to corduroy) since the toner won’t sink into the deeper crevices of the paper.

Once you know what the surface is, you’ll want to figure out the thickness. This can get VERY confusing, since it involves three aspects: Caliper, Weight and Bulk.

Caliper is the actual thickness measured in mils (1/1000”) or points.  Paper that measures 0.010” thick is 10pt, 0.014” thick is 14pt, and so on.

Weight is the “basis weight,” which is how much 500 sheets weigh at a specific sheet size: 25” x 38” for text weights, and 20” x 26” for cover weights. If 500 sheets of 25”x38” paper weighs 80 lbs, that would be 80lb text and 500 sheets of 20”x26” cover weighing 100 lbs. would be 100lb cover. Often “lbs” is replaced with the “#” symbol, so 100 lbs = 100#. Get the idea? Good! Let’s move on.

Bulk is the overall density of the paper. Like how the metric system measures “mass” instead of weight (on the moon you would weigh less, but your mass still takes up the same amount of space.) It’s a formula that considers Caliper and Weight.  In simple terms, thicker sheets have more bulk. Also, coated sheets have less bulk then uncoated sheets, which helps explain why 100# coated cover feels much thinner and less stable than 100# uncoated cover.

Next, paper is classified into two categories: Text and Bond. Cardstock has more categories: Bristol, Index, Cover and Board. Bond or Writing is your general multipurpose paper. It ranges from copier-grade 20# bond all the way up to nice fancy resume-type papers like 28# writing. Text is what’s often used for books, newsletters, flyers, etc. Here’s where confusion starts… in terms of thickness 50# text is equal to 20# bond, 60# text equals 24# bond, 70# text equals 28# bond, and so on.

Bristol, also called Vellum Bristol, is a lightweight cardstock. The surface is a little rougher since it isn’t compressed when it gets made. It feels a little thicker, even though it’s not as dense. This makes it less expensive and is often used for mailers and single-use pieces. Index is smoother and feels thinner and is often used for tabs, file folders – and you guessed it – Index Cards!

Cover is the general usage term for most cardstock weights. It’s usually made to match their companion text weights, so it is usually used for newsletters and books so all the text and cover sheets in the same piece would match. Board is used mostly for display pieces, pocket folders, posters, etc. Unlike other stocks, which are listed by weight, Board is generally selected by thickness (10pt, 12 pt, etc.)

There are so many paper choices available and every single one of them is just waiting for a printer like us to start slapping some  ink on them. We love paper – we love, love, love it. If you need help picking paper for your project, please contact our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They’ll be more than happy to get you started.

Also check out Part 2: Opacity, Brightness, Shade and Grain.

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, direct mail, poster printing

Yeah... our Proportion Calculator ROCKS!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Dec 03, 2010 @ 11:32 AM

By now most people know that Universal Printing is proud of the services we offer, the products we produce, and the level of our commitment to our customers, our community, and the environment.  

Apparently, we also have some very cool tools on our website.  Sure, WE knew they were awesome... that's why we put them there in the first place.  But a lot of OTHER people think they are awesome too! In fact, we have hundreds and hundreds of other folks linking to the tools and resources available on our site.

Of all the resources available, clearly the most popular is our Proportion Calculator. Some of you might remember those neat little Proportion Scales.  They were pretty much two spinny discs with a bunch of tiny numbers, but they could calculate all sorts of enlargements and reductions.  We thought our clients might like an online resource that works pretty much same way.

Who knew that some simple coding on our website would become so popular?  It's crazy!  Anywhere in the world, you can search Google for Proportion Calculator and there we are...
Top 2... Right behind an algebra tutoring site (which really is okay with us because helping kids succeed in school is very cool and we won't complain!)

Old School Proportion Scale

The point is...

We're excited about the success of our site and the warm appreciation that our tools and resources have been getting. So to celebrate, and show OUR appreciation, we're offering a Web Special through our Proportion Calculator page.  We figure if all those people are calculating enlargements and reductions, we should offer REDUCTIONS on ENLARGEMENTS! 

For a limited time, we'll be offering 50% OFF large format posters and banners.  For more details just visit our Proportion Calculator and click the Web Special button. Also, feel free to leave a comment below and tell us what you think of the Proportion Calculator and also our Exclusive Web Special.

Tags: printing services, business solutions, poster printing, wide format printing, banners