Ed Stokes and Ah T’at, one of Elegance Printing’s leading pressmen, press checking Lee Fook Chee’s Hong Kong.
Press checking, as seen here, aims to ensure that the final printed sheets replicate, or even slightly improve on, the book’s final wet proofs.
Press checking is intense, demanding – and exciting! The decisions made here, with machine time (and so costs) always a factor, critically affect a book’s final appearance. The pressmen and publisher compare the proofs with the test printing sheets for the finest details of reproduction tone, contrast, density and sharpness.
Press checking is the ultimate fine tuning: to the amounts of inking, each ‘colour’ of ink, nudging the plates on the cylinders to improve the registration, and other inter-related factors. Various trade-offs are sometimes a stressful aspect of press checking. Gain more shadow detail here, then we lessen the highlight detail there. Quick comments and judgements flash to and fro between the pressmen and publisher: ‘Should we make this change? Overall, will we gain or lose reproduction quality?’ Once each sheet is perfect, or as close to perfect as technically and visually possible, printing begins.