One of the Linked In groups “Creative Design Pros” had a discussion topic called, “Original Files – to send or not to send?” Source files or Original files are the building blocks of the final design. These source files are the different layers/filters the designer uses to create the design using programs such as Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator. Many designers flatten the files, minimizing the file size before sending to the client.
This topic was of particular interest from two different viewpoints, procurement and the printer. To summarize the viewpoints one group of designers believes the client only is paying for final art. They also believe that if the client asks for source or original files they are trying to dump the designer and go to someone cheaper, such as the following quote;
“So fine, you want working files at this point you would like to end our working relationship anyway… here is the cost for the working files requested.” http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=52738803&gid=122872&commentID=78905582&goback=.amf_122872_51511760&trk=NUS_DISC_Q-subject#commentID_78905582
The other view point is to work with the client and give the client what they have paid for, such as the following quote;
“My policy is, once they have paid the contracted/invoiced price set for the project they own the rights and therefore should have the files.” http://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers=&discussionID=52738803&gid=122872&commentID=78905582&goback=.amf_122872_51511760&trk=NUS_DISC_Q-subject#commentID_78905582
As a former print production planner I have experienced the extra cost in time, materials, and effort to fix client’s files because they didn’t furnish original or source files. The following are several reasons designers should provide source files.
- When clients hire a designer to create/develop design files and flattened files are provided, it’s like purchasing a car without a motor.
- From concept to completed files, information within the document may need to be changed. When copy is part of photos and the files are flattened, the job will be delayed waiting for the source files [which will increase the cost of the job to prepare new files] or added costs for the printer to perform magic on your files.
- Many times designers haven’t properly prepared the furnished files for printing. Some of the issues are:
- Bleeds within the document weren’t ideal or non-existent
- Images that were not trapping properly
- Copy to close to the trim
- Page or panel sizes not built to the correct size
- Type alignment issues
- Glue tabs or pocket folders not built properly
- Shadows built in four color instead of black
- Low resolution images
- Imbedded fonts
- Files were not built consistently
- Color-corrected images needing to replace print file image
These are a several examples why the printer needs source files.
As procurement professionals, our job is to purchase the best product/job at the lowest total cost for our client. Knowing that no one is perfect, and some designers don’t know how to properly build press ready files, for purchasing not to request source files would be doing the client/company a disservice.
If you are in procurement or marketing and need print files, always ask your designer to provide source files, proof [phaser], folding dummy and a final PDF. The source files allow the printer to make changes or corrections easily. The proof provides a physical view. The folding dummy confirms what pages back each other up, and how the piece folds. The final PDF will illustrate how the source files will print and easy to electronically send to the printer. Problems happen in printing, such as type breaking differently from the designer because the printer may be using a different version of software for example. Before securing a designer, read the designer’s contract and ask for modifications as needed.