The web is a great way of promoting and showing off your work: it allows you to reach a wide audience with minimal outlay, and putting together a small portfolio site isn't too taxing for any designer. However, many clients and employers still prefer viewing work as hard copies and handling the final printed product.
Whether this is in the form of a hand-made book or simply a few examples of your work that specifically relate to a client's interests, sometimes there's nothing like holding a printed page in your hand and seeing it in the cold light of day. This is especially relevant if your work is made for print anyway (as opposed to web design, made for the screen) because it will give the client a strong idea of the quality of your work, and how it might also look in relation to their own project. For example, if you're pitching for a packaging design job, try printing your previous package designs and logos onto a card that most accurately mimics the client's end product (that is, as thick and glossy as your printer will allow).
So having established that there are times when you'll need to print off work yourself, how do you go about it? In this tutorial we start by looking at the kind of conversations you might have with an external printer. Home printers are these days capable of very high-quality printing, but if you're looking to have work printed up professionally, you may find yourself flicking through Yellow Pages - maybe because you'd like it on a particular paper stock, or want the artwork bound as a limited-edition book at a small publisher.
One of the greatest disappointments in printing work yourself can be in the discrepancy between what you see on the screen and what ends up on paper. Starting with the screen, we'll be looking at monitor calibration, giving us a base point to work from. Then we'll consider paper and the printer settings themselves, because there's nothing more irritating than setting up Photoshop exactly, with your finger poised over Print, to find your hardware isn't ready for the job.
Finally, we move on to Photoshop itself to unravel the mysteries of checking gamut, proofing images on screen, and ICC colour profiles, before looking at the print job itself. Colour management can be a hugely technical and detailed area of design and image reproduction, but over the following pages we'll be picking out the most useful features and everyday areas to soothe your colour-related headaches.