Mon 27th January


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Trophy design for the Tour de France

With the Tour de France approaching Yorkshire in the summer, I thought it would be appropriate to feature some of its lesser-known design icons. For the last three years the winners’ commemorative trophies have been designed by Peter Olah of designer Czech glassmakers Lasvit and the designs live up to the company’s formidable reputation.
The three trophies all share a similar form, a geometric hourglass allowing for the trophy to both have substantial weight to the form, whilst being easy to grip by hand. The slanted angle at the top of the trophies allows you to best appreciate the luxurious thickness of the hand-blown glass. Each set of trophies also gets their own particular sense of style through their textured finishes.
The 2013 trophy has a particularly impressive pattern, especially when you realise that each trophy is created by hand. The trophy has an opalescent layer applied, which is then ground away using powerful cutters to reveal the original glass beneath. The result is a striking spiral cross-hatch.
So with the 2014 Grand Départ fast approaching, we wait patiently for this years’ trophy design. In the meantime, check out Lasvit’s other creation on their website.

The Importance of Good Design

Here at Printworks Online, we offer a full design service across all of our products. It may be a little extra cash, but it will work wonders to ensure that what we print for you looks its best. The best design is always about putting communication first and we are always mindful of what a design should achieve when we start creating.

There is more to our design service…

Aside from choosing to have artwork created when you purchase one of our products, we can also offer you a broader range of design services. Our team of designers are on hand to offer you services such as logo design, full rebranding, and even large format work such as banners.

Let us help you develop your idea into reality…

If you’re not sure exactly what product to go for or what the design should be that’s no problem. We’re more than happy to discuss the options that are best for you and come up with design ideas based on what you are looking for.

Looking for that little bit extra…

We regularly go above and beyond with our customers to offer something a little different, from die-cut business cards to luxury foil finishes. Just give us a ring on 0843 538 5025 to see what we can offer.

And if you’re still not sure what our design service can offer you, here are just a couple of examples of what we have done in the past:

Panda Print
Wallpaper leaflet
Printworks PosterGo-Racing-Flyer-Web

Thu 22nd August


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A Beginners Guide to Vector and Raster Images


Vector and Raster are words that are thrown around a lot in design. In essence they are two distinct types of image, but knowing which one to use in any given situation is vital. Here is the Printworks Online guide to Vector vs Raster images.

What’s the Difference?

The difference between these two image types is the way that they are made up. Raster images consist of a series of dots/pixels that together build up the image. They are what most people are familiar with, and if you’ve ever zoomed into an image and seen a ‘pixelated’ appearance, then you’re looking at a raster.

Vectors on the other hand are made up of a series of lines and fill colours, as apposed to pixels. Therefore, they can be infinitely scaled up or down. In essence you could zoom into a Vector as far as you can go, and all the elements will still stay crisp and sharp.

Pros and Cons?

Raster files can have a large amount of complex detail due their pixel-based nature. However this does increase the file size and means they cannot be scaled or resized easily, without a reduction in the quality of the image.

Vector files can be scaled up or down infinitely, and the way that the file is structured makes them much smaller in size than raster images. However, as they are made up of lines and fills the images are less detailed.

Raster v VectorThis image shows you the difference in clarity between raster and vector images. (It is only an example however, as ironically the image above had to be raster-based for the web.)

When to use them?


All photographs are raster images. The dot-based nature of raster files mean they can allow for a photographs complexity.


As you can see from this magnified section, the raster image cannot be enlarged as it creates a fuzzy distortion. However when viewed at the correct size (the main image) it appears completely sharp to the eye. This kind of detail, as seen in photographs, cannot be replicated in vector form.


Logos should always be created as vector files. At a later stage, the images may need to be converted to raster for certain uses such as on the web, but vector files should always be used as the main file. This is because they can be scaled up and down to cover all possible uses of the logo.


For digital illustrations, vectors should always be used to keep the graphics crisp and scalable.


Images on the web are raster, as by their nature websites are viewed on pixel-based screens. All images should be converted to raster copies and saved as the appropriate resolution for use on the web.

Text Based

Any text involved with a design should be saved in a vector format. You can always combine text and raster in designs such as business cards, but the text should never be saved as raster as it will pixelate and become difficult to read at small sizes.

Large Format

For large format graphics it is always best to use vector images to allow for images to be scaled without loss of quality, and to keep the file sizes relatively small and easy to use. Sometimes photographs (so raster) are needed, but make sure they are big enough to stay at a decent quality, and be aware that the file size will be a lot larger.

Which Software?

Adobe Creative Suite is the design standard for image creation so I will use it as a basis for the following suggestions:


Photoshop is raster-based, so is only suitable for photograph manipulation and the conversion of vector images to raster copies for web and screen applications.


As vector software, Illustrator should be used to create vector images, and for resizing vectors.


Indesign is a program that allows you to combine various raster and vector images in one document. The software is perfect for text reliant documents, for example our online business cards.

Follow these simple rules with your images and documents to make sure you always end up with the highest quality results.


A History of Printing

Early forms of printing can be traced back to Ancient China. During the Han Dynasty designs were printed onto silk using carved wooden blocks. Ink was applied directly onto the wooden blocks before they were transferred onto the material.

Recorded use of block printing also occurred during the T’ang Dynasty between 618 and 906. The Egyptians printed onto papyrus paper even earlier!

Next, came the first flat-bed printing press in Germany. Used by goldsmith Johann Gutenberg in the mid-15th century. The mechanical, movable device applied pressed plates onto an inked surface, resting on the paper or cloth material and transferring the image. Gutenberg’s printing press is credited as the first mass-production printing press. The design soon spread through Europe and the rest of the world, eventually replacing block printing.

printing 1

In 1473, William Caxton printed the first book to be published in English.

By the 1600s, most European cities had printing houses. Early printing houses were run by ‘master printers’ who not only owned the shops, but selected and edited manuscripts, determined the size of a print run and sold the products.

In 1814, German inventor Friedrich Koenig, together with Andreas Bauer, built and patented a high-speed, steam powered printing press. The first issue of ‘The Times’ newspaper printed with the press was published on the 29th November 1814. They later sold their printing press to that very newspaper.

printing 2

Letterpress printing continued into the second half of the 20th century and was widely used to print books and other written materials. It remained one of the most common forms of printing until offset or litho printing technology was developed.

Modern litho printing technology uses a chemical process. The section you do not wish to print on is treated with a water-repelling substance meaning the ink only transfers onto the part of the image which you wish to print on. The litho printing method allows for extremely detailed printing and high volume print runs.

printing 3

The late 20th century saw the arrival of digital printing. Here at Printworks Online we use both litho printing technology and digital printing techniques.

With 3D printers now available to buy on the high-street, the history of printing is certainly far from written!

printing 4

Why Print is Here to Stay

There has been a lot of talk in recent times about how the printed world as we know it is going to become extinct. Printed pages are being replaced by websites and mobile devices. The lure is clear: interactive content. Sound, motion and networking can draw people away from printed formats, but there is life in paper yet.


Not all Printed Formats are Doomed

It is true that previously established print media such as newspapers and magazines are in decline, but the purpose of those formats is that they are the most concise and attainable way of accessing news and current affairs. As technology makes news and information more accessible via the Internet, it is only natural for the world to move in that direction.

Media attention has largely focused on magazines, newspapers and books when it comes to the decline of print, and although these formats are fading in popularity, it is important not to forget the versatility of the print world. Areas such as business stationery, packaging and advertising materials are still popular and you cannot underestimate the brand presence of physical printed material.

Appealing to Your Senses

It is clear that sound and motion are a big attraction of digital formats, but the fact still remains that print can offer you a diverse sensory experience. It is more visually diverse than screen, offering not only flat colours but special finishes such as fluorescents, luminescent, metallic, holographic foils as well as the simple contrast between matt and gloss.


This luxury business card appears like a simple de-bossing in the light, but glows when viewed in the dark.


The iridescent holographic foil gives this business card a sense of motion.


Simple effects like a foil finish can give a luxury look and feel, and metallic cannot be replicated on screen.

The physical nature of print also gives it texture, weight, scent and heat, all of which cannot be created on screen. There is an endless selection of textures in print, from smooth gloss to woven papers all the way to special finishes such as velvet-textured laminates. There is a certain amount of pleasure taken in being able to hold a 3D object that cannot be replicated in the virtual world. Scent in print is usually subtle, such as scented paper but can be used to great effect. Scent is something taken for granted but it is highly associated with atmosphere and emotional reactions and yet again cannot be produced on-screen. Print also has a certain weight, and even heat can be taken into account when you think of special effects such as heat reactive finishes.


This ingenious stationery uses a black thermo-sensitive ink that loses its colour when exposed to heat such as human body heat.


Die cut pages add some interest to a brochure.


Gold or coloured edging, again adds luxury.


Die cutting can let you experiment away from the rectangular.

In short, we will always need print. As we will always need tactile, physical objects for advertising, stationery and packaging amongst other uses. In the end you cannot live solely in a virtual world, and with the vast array of things you can do with print why would you want to?

Mon 20th May

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Printworks IPad Mini Competition Winner

A big thank you to everyone who entered our May 2013 competition.

Congratulations to Dominic Mills of Hampshire who wins a IPad Mini, courtesy of

We hope you enjoy your new IPAD!

Didn’t win this time? Don’t worry! Printworks-Online will be running another competition soon so watch this space.

Facebook Winner 403 x 403

Tue 30th April

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WIN an iPad Mini!

To celebrate the launch of our Brand Spanking new website, we are offering one lucky winner the chance to win an iPad Mini.

Simply use the widget below for 5 unique ways to enter. The more ways you enter the more chances you have to win so get sharing!

We would love to hear your thoughts on the new site, so please let us know what you think and if there is anything else we could do improve it. Click here to drop us a line!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mon 22nd April



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QR Codes in Print 


Definition of QR Code

QR codes (Or Quick Response codes) are in essence a form of barcode. Although they’ve been around for years, the rise of smartphones has given them a new lease of life, allowing you to use your phone to access a wealth of information by scanning a QR code.

QR codes are great for printed material such as business cards as they act like a link would on a website, making print interactive.

QR codes can link to a variety of file types:

  • HTML Code
  • PNG File
  • Tiff File
  • SVG
  • EPS

How to Create a QR Code

QR codes can be created simply online. There are many free QR code generators available, allowing you to upload or link your content to create you code. Sites I would recommend include:

To create simpler codes less information is a must, so consider using a URL shortener for web addresses (included on

Make sure when adding QR codes to your printed work, not to distort the code in terms of pixelation or ratio. You can also add colour to your QR code, just make sure that the contrast is still high and the colour is solid. You can also add a small amount of embellishment to your code, up to 30% of a code can be obscured and it will still scan.

The most important thing to remember is to test your codes on a quality proof before they go to print. Online printers such as us will provide you with a proof (usually on screen) at your request.

Don’t be afraid to use your QR creatively and if you’re stuck for ideas here are some great examples of creative QR codes:


A clever use of the code, hailed by Guinness as the first “product activated” QR code.


A garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, the QR code garden merged horticulture with the digital age.


A more playful approach to constructing the code can be to make it out of existing materials.


Business cards, with their limited space, are perfect for QR codes to boost the amount of information they can carry.

Tue 16th April


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From Proof to Print: How your job is produced

Have you ever wondered what happens to your order?  Your work goes through a number of processes here at Printworks before you receive the finished article. There are different stages depending on whether your work is large format or not, so here is a guide to the journey of an online business card.

Stage One – Checking the Artwork

With all of our artwork, we take great care in checking its specification so that it’s ready to print. We will check:

  • The resolution is 300dpi
  • All elements of the design are set up in the correct colour, either CMYK or spot (Pantone)
  • Any special finishes are included as part of the artwork
  • The document is the correct size and number of pages as specified
  • The document has bleed
  • The correct overprint settings are used if required
  • All black text is set to 100% black (i.e one solid black and not a mix of all four CMYK colours)

If any of these checks bring up a problem we will either ask you to edit the artwork accordingly, or we will correct the artwork in the studio.

Stage Two – Setting up the Artwork for Print

Now that the artwork is ready for printing we create an imposition. An imposition is where we position the artwork on a sheet that can then be made into plates for the printing press. Online business cards, for example, would be laid out and tessellated to fit a sheet, using specific rules for positioning depending on whether the documents have more then one side as well as number of pages. This sheet will include all cutting marks and a colour bar to allow accurate colour matching at the press.

Stage Three – Creating a Colour Proof

When the artwork is set up for print we produce a colour proof on our high quality Epson digital printer. This printer is colour calibrated to our press so that what is printed will colour match the finished work to within a high degree of colour accuracy. This way we can check the colour of your finished print before it even reaches the printing press.

It is important to note that for spot colour work, i.e.  Pantone, we do not need this stage as Pantone inks are already guaranteed for colour consistency.

Stage Four – A Second Round of Checks

The imposition is ready to go and we have an Epson colour proof, the next stage is for all the printouts to go to our proof-reader for thorough checking. They check the printing sheet against the approved artwork to check that all the details and design match, ensuring that nothing has corrupted or changed during setting up for print.

Stage Five – Printing

Now the artwork is ready to be put on the printing press. One of our experienced press technicians will take the sheet artwork and create plates that can be used on the press. For CMYK work the artwork will be split into its four constituent parts (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Keyline black) and a plate will be created for each. (For Pantone work, the job is split into the specified colours)

These plates are then loaded into our press. Our print technician will use the Epson colour proof as a colour accuracy reference during printing. In the simplest terms the press works by inking up each plate in its corresponding ink and as the paper is fed through the machine it is pressed against each plate in turn to build up the full design, leaving the press as the complete printed sheet. In most cases there is also fifth plate which puts a thin laminate layer over the entire printed sheet, you will see this as the protective matt finish on a matt laminated business card for example.

Stage Six – Finishing and Packing

The printed sheets are now ready to be made into the finished article. In the case of an online business card this would simply be cutting down and packing securely for shipping. However for some products this could also include folding, drilling, numbering, die-cutting or attaching multiple sheets together either by glue binding or stitching.

In the case of the card below, the card is die-cut to shape for its rounded corners.

And that’s it, a printer’s six degrees of separation from screen to finished product.

Mon 8th April


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Sophisticated and Stylish Spot UV Business Cards


Your business cards are your first impression to your customers, so making sure it’s memorable is important. Adding a spot varnish to your card is a great way to grab attention, as the varnish catching the light helps give the card some movement and depth.

The following ten examples are of business cards that utilise spot varnishes in a variety of different ways, from simply varnishing the logo, to creating pattern and texture as well as adding a varnished design over blank card to create a more subtle look.×386.jpg


If you feel that a spot varnish is something you want to incorporate into your business cards, contact us and we would be happy to discuss your ideas further.