Mystery print

Mystery print
August 11, 2010 Calverts

There's often a certain amount of detective work required in print. We've identified paper described over the phone as "toothy", tracked down suppliers of biodegradable wiro-binding, and investigated modern methods to replicate arcane print techniques. We like a challenge and we usually come up with a solution.

Recently we were commissioned to print a book, or rather to reprint it as the book had been published twice before, once in German and again in French. We were given the original artwork files with translated text + a hard copy of the first edition and a brief to reproduce it, exactly as the original.

At a glance, the book – heavily illustrated with large areas of flat graphics in spot colours – appears to have been litho printed using a traditional screening method. Under an eyeglass however, there is almost a continuous tone running through the images which suggests stochastic screening has been used. There's also some surface picking on one particular colour which indicates a high ink tack – further evidence of stochastic screening due to the thinner film of ink required in this process. But there is a slight dot in there and this dot, however subtle, points to another screening or output method.

We know the original artist/author liked to experiment, having etched an entire illustrated book directly onto film, so it's not unreasonable to think the artist has created some strange  hand-screening hybrid. To further complicate matters, the German printer of the first edition appears not to have a website or any contact details at all so we can't ask the right questions to the right people. We won't rest until we will find them and what it is they've done to bend the laws of print.

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