Stages of Production Part II: Prepress Lasers

By Carol Hinz
Editorial Director, Millbrook Press

Did you read all about art lasers last week? All right then, we’re ready for prepress lasers.

Journey prepress 2(Journey into the Deep prepress lasers; click to enlarge)

Once art lasers are final, the layout goes to the prepress department. Many publishers don’t have in-house prepress departments, but we really appreciate having our prepress operators right in the office. They actually prepare the file for the printer. The high-resolution photos (or art files—whether scanned or created digitally) all go to the prepress department. For the majority of our books, the prepress operator replaces the low-res images in the art lasers with the final high-res images.

The prepress operator also makes changes to images. For example, we may want an image “knocked out” or cut out from the original background that was in the photo. Sometimes we may want part of an image faded. We may need to change hair color or the color of a shirt in a photo or piece of art. The prepress operators are pros at all these kinds of changes—typically made in Photoshop.

Journey prepress 4 (The designer made a note about changing the fade on an image of water.)

At about this time, for the series we publish there is also a “spec check” in which someone in the prepress department checks the layout against the series specs to make sure that the design elements are consistent from book to book. Things to check include making sure the captions, chapter titles, etc., are all set in the correct typeface and point size.Journey prepress 5

(Sometimes when an image is knocked out, we lose a little chunk of it! Luckily, this can be fixed.)

Changes to prepress lasers usually have to do more with visual elements than the text, though sometimes we do catch things in the text we should have seen at art laser stage. After this point, making changes is notably less desirable and more costly. Check back next week for part three: 43-wides.