Posts Tagged ‘printing’

The printing revolution in India

April 13, 2017

early printing in India explored

Anindita Ghosh explores the ‘Renaissance’ that came about through the medium of print in India

BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting the first in a series celebrating India’s independence in 1947 with a programme about the effect of the first wooden printing press being brought to Kalkota by the British in 1799.

In Printing a Nation, Anindita Ghosh from the University of Manchester argues that print was far more important than the railways in shaping the Indian nation. The setting up of the first presses by missionaries led to a search for a putative ‘Indian’ identity – the Bengal Renaissance – that was shaped through the exchange of ideas via printed texts.

This was particularly because of the sea of Indian-run presses, printing in local languages, that furthered ‘a cacophonous print revolution’. By the end of the nineteenth century, ‘more titles were produced in India than in France during the Age of Enlightenment’.

 

Gravure printing at The Telegraph – 3 days on the presses

December 30, 2016
The first of the DailyTelegraph's colour magazines in 1964

The first of the Daily Telegraph’s colour magazines in 1964

The Daily Telegraph launched its colour supplement on 25 September 1964. It was christened the Weekend Telegraph, and came out with the Friday paper. By 1968 it was printing 1.5 million copies a week. The supplement was first called The Weekend Telegraph and later The Daily Telegraph Magazine.

Of course, it was not the first of the 1960s newspaper supplements, The Sunday Times having led the way with its colour section in 1962, but September 1964 was a busy month with The Observer launching its version on Sunday, the 6th. The Observer‘s supplement launch can be seen in the context of the launch of The Sunday Telegraph, which had hit the streets on February 5, 1961, though it had no magazine and would not get one until the 1970s. The aim of these supplements was to enable the papers to offer colour advertising across the nation – and it was a strategy that damaged revenues at magazines.

The Telegraph‘s printing was handled by Eric Bemrose in Aintree, Liverpool, on gravure presses. This was a massive operation, producing magazines of up to 80 pages, 60 of which could be printed in four colours.

The Daily Telegraph produced a 1968 book written by Otto Lilien, its printing consultant, which described the process in depth. A diagram at the heart of the volume shows a press configuration of 13 units, with each unit printing one colour on one side of a massive ‘web’ of paper. There were two of these giant ‘toilet rolls’ feeding paper into the presses.

Each gravure printing cylinder was 70 inches wide, with a circumference of 42in, meaning it could carry the engraving of five pages across and four pages round – 20 pages in all.

The press configuration used five units on one web. This  printed black only on one side of the paper and four colours on the other (4/1 or ‘four back one’ printing). The second web used eight cylinders to produce four colours on both sides of the web (4/4).

Once up to speed, the presses produced 18,000 copies an hour. So it would take about 83 hours – more than three days of the presses running round the clock – to print the whole run.

The issues were ‘self-cover’, so the covers were printed on the same paper as part of the same run. Once the two webs, each printing 40 pages, had gone through the presses, they came together and were folded, trimmed and ‘saddle-stitched’ (stapled) to make an 80-page issue. The binding machines operated at 20,000 copies an hour.

 

 

More genius of colour printing – Vogue cover

June 20, 2015

 

The 'London Babes' cover from Vogue in December 1993

The ‘London Babes’ cover from Vogue in December 1993

This is a great issue of Vogue, with Danish fashion model Helena Christensen on the cover photographed by Nick Knight (his second Vogue cover, the first being the month before). Inside, is Steven Meisel’s ‘London Babes’ photoshoot styled by Isabella Blow. From a printing point of view, the cover is interesting for several reasons. The Blighty colour cover I discussed last week was printed colour letterpress. That technique produces quite a crude result compared with modern-day offset lithograph printing, which is used for most magazines today, including this 1993 Vogue. Nick Knight is renowned for his digital manipulation of photographs and as a proponent of its ‘extremely exciting’ possibilities.

Detail of Helena Christensen's eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

Detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the cover of Vogue in December 1993

The detail of Helena Christensen’s eye from the Vogue cover demonstrates several things. First, the skin tones are purely made up of magenta dots. Compared with the Blighty cover, the dots are finer – more like 300 lines per inch than the 150 of the 1950s. Click on the images here to see them at a larger size. Notice how much blue there is in and around the eye – this looks to me as if a blue shadow has been added in Photoshop. Similarly with the blue highlights in the eyebrows and hair.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's lips from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christensen’s lips from the Vogue cover

This close focus on Christensen’s lips shows a much higher density of the magenta, a tinge of yellow at the centre of the mouth and then a shadow of cyan, which becomes heavier moving to the right. Below is a a magnified image of the whole face, with the bottom of the G from the title across the forehead. This is printed in solid magenta.

Detail of Helena Christiansen's face from the Vogue cover

Detail of Helena Christiansen’s face from the Vogue cover

JUST OUT – British Magazine Design, a highly illustrated hardback history from the Victoria & Albert Museum

The genius of colour printing

June 19, 2015
Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men's weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Blighty pin-up cover for the popular men’s weekly by MB Tompkins in 1958 (16 August)

Colour printing has always seemed to me to be a bit of a miracle – seemingly every colour under the sun can be printed from just four colours, cyan (sky blue), magenta (a pinky red) yellow and black. The colours are abbreviated as CMYK – with K being black, the ‘key’ colour. In theory, the black is not necessary because the other three should merge to black, but in practice, the result is a bit washed out, more a murky brown.

In the 1950s, when this cover was printed, the colour painting of the glamorous dancer would have been photographed through a filter and a metal screen to produce a sheet of printing film for each colour. The screen would be a metal screen capable of showing 150 lines to the inch. The film would taped on to the other pieces of film of each colour for the rest of the page and then paired up with its partner page – the back cover in this case – and that assembled film used to make a printing plate for each colour. Each plate would have been wrapped around its cylinder on a four-unit press. When the paper is run through the press, each colour ink in its turn would have been passed from the printing plate on to the paper. The overprinting of the colours builds up the image.

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958

Detail showing dots of printed ink from the lower face of Blighty magazine cover in 1958, Click on the picture to see it in more detail.

Look at the magnified detail here and you can see individual dots for each colour. In the bottom left, there are dots of pure cyan. You can see that the dots are in regular lines at an angle of about 10 degrees to the horizontal. In the darker blue areas, you can see black dots among the cyan. The skin tones are mainly magenta with yellow highlights. The red lips are a combination of magenta and yellow. The teeth are simply the white paper. You can make out some of all the colours in the black areas.

Blighty was a popular men’s weekly magazine published by City Magazines at 64 Fleet St, but it was printed 200 miles away by Eric Bemrose in Long Lane, Liverpool. The Long Lane plant closed down in 1991. The illustration was by MB Tompkins, an artist about whom I only know that he produced Blighty covers in 1958, and some pulp book covers.

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958

MB Tompkins signature from Blighty magazine cover in 1958

 

Ronald Searle explains printer’s jargon

December 22, 2014
Ronald Searle's cartoon glossary to printers' jargon

Ronald Searle’s cartoon glossary to printers’ jargon

Ronald Searle is known for his St Trinians cartoons, but his scratchy style – developed while he was a prisoner of war under the Japanese – brought him fame across the world. This ‘Layman’s guide to the Printer’s Anatomy’ is his take on the jargon of the pressman’s world done for the Inky Way in 1951.

The Inky Way was published by WPN, the company behind World’s Press News and Advertisers Review – the weekly trade paper that was bought up by Michael Heseltine’s Haymarket in 1968 and relaunched, with a focus on the advertising industry because journalists didn’t have any money, as Campaign.   

Searle has no room for ‘nut’ and ‘mutton’, or printer’s lice, but what is a ‘swelled rule’ when it’s out?