Week of Grossness—Day 2: Q&A with an Itchy Prepress Operator

By Carol Hinz
Editorial Director, Millbrook Press

Sue Marquis was the prepress operator for the book Itch & Ooze: Gross Stuff on Your Skin. She got more than she bargained for on this book!Itch and Ooze cover

Q: When a final layout of a book (especially a Gross Body Science book) is ready, what kind of work do prepress operators need to do?

A: We check to make sure the pages are formatted correctly, we replace low-res images with high-res images, and we also do a lot of Photoshop work. We “knock out” images from their original backgrounds, and anything with fur or hair takes a lot of time to make it look real. Sometimes we have to change the color of an image or just certain parts of an image. I added armpit stains to the shirt of one girl in Itch & Ooze. That was fun.

After we have checked to make sure we have everything done, we make a PDF that gets proofed so we can see how the book will look, and when everything is OK, we send the PDF to the printer.

Q: Why was the mosquito in Itch & Ooze so tricky to knock out?

A: You want to have an image blown up at least 200% on your computer screen when you outline an image, but the mosquito had so many fine hairs, I had it blown up to about 500%. There was a clump of squiggly hairs at the bottom that took a lot of time too.

Q: Before you worked on this book, did you know that Itch_32mosquitoes had little hairs on their legs?

A: I most certainly did not, that was a surprise to me. I had the image so large on my computer screen to outline around it that I thought it was a spider because of those hairs!

Q: Did working photos of mosquitoes, lice, ticks, poison ivy, etc., make you start to feel itchy?

A: Yes, especially the ticks and the lice—ew!

Are you still itching for more? To read about mosquitoes’ amazing legs and feet, check this out!