Ed #10 Prepress


In case their younger colleagues don’t already know it, the senior graphic designers they’re working with today came from a different place. Most began their careers at drawing boards, with an X-Acto® knife and a jar of rubber cement. Working as keyliners or mechanical artists, often the first step in a design career, they glued or waxed photostatic prints and columns of type supplied by a typesetter onto illustration boards. The boards and any color art were photographed using special cameras to produce separations. If retouching was required, it was performed with an airbrush, bleach or by etching the dots on the separation films. Film strippers combined line art and separations to assemble the final film.

Then, in the 1980s, everything changed. The first electronic typesetters, which used lasers to produce type on film, evolved into imagesetters that could electronically reproduce both type and images. Soon, “desk-top” publishing systems allowed anyone with a computer to take over much of the work of keyliners, typesetters, film strippers and retouchers, whose jobs changed beyond recognition or were eliminated entirely. The revolution continued as prepress processes became almost completely electronic, with projects rarely touching paper until they were printed.

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