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Printing General up to 2010

Mostly about quality issues for major events, and the work flow required to achieve the best result. Home printers too. Make current contributions to Printing - General which covers from 2011.

Related categories: Course marking (as that software often produces the printer-ready files) and Layout (as inclusion of bitmap logos sometimes affects the printing). There are also specific printing topics for Paper, and for some events which had particular problems.

MT: Michael Posted: 6 March 2008, 4:18 PM

Anyone had any recent experience with digital offset. As I understand it the file is used to make CMY and K plates within the machine and it is said to be superior to digital printing. It has a setup cost, and because it is ink (not fused toner?) there's an extra day involved. Over a certain number its cheaper.

I've got some dollar numbers from some printers but looking for assurance that it really is at least as good as digital. A tiny mis-registration of the CMYK dots would make a fine line like a contour fuzzy. And by definition they can't do a one-off proof!

MT: Martin Posted: 6 March 2008, 5:34 PM

from memory IOF still requires offset printing for major events

MT: Greg Posted: 6 March 2008, 5:49 PM

from the ISOM2000 via the IOF rules

“3.5 Printing An orienteering map must be printed on good, possibly water resistant, paper (weight 80-120 g/m ). Spot colour printing is recommended for IOF events. Other printing methods may be used, if colours and line width have the same quality as printing with spot colours. Legibility depends on the correct choice of colours.”

further down

“3.5.3 Alternative printing methods Colour copiers, printers and other digital printing equipment are not yet suitable for printing orienteering maps for high level competitions. It is very difficult to achieve the line quality, legibility and colour appearance of traditional spot colour printed maps using this kind of equipment. It is expected that the continuing development of computer technology will lead to the possibility of using alternative printing methods with quality suitable for large competitions.”

These are form 2000, I'd say that technology has greatly improved in the last 8 years of digital printing.

MT: Michael Posted: 14 March 2008, 6:27 PM

Probably going to stay with digital - at least quality is known. Sounds like digital offset becomes viable over about ca.1000 X A3. Unclear whether this can be made up of different files, but I suspect it might have to be 1000 of the same, or perhaps 500 each of two files, or something simple like that. So a big rogaine or something like that, not an orienteering event with 13 courses. Need to be on the lookout for a suitable opportunity.

MT: Michael Posted: 23 April 2008, 10:29 AM

I've always used “Export EPS” to send files to the printshop but have heard that others use “Export PDF”. Was just trying a pdf to send a draft for checking to someone without OCAD, and the stony ground is not rendered properly, bands of light and dark dots, and it looks even worse on-screen. Guess its a moire fringe type effect. There's a “compress” option but unchecking that produces the same result. Any other experience out there?

MT: Michael Posted: 22 May 2008, 10:06 AM

New issue: digital printing glitch. After literally tens of thousands of copies at our regular printer, I found 65 faulty prints out of a run of 400. Colour had not properly fused, splodges had come off part of the map, were deposited on another part. “This cannot happen” said the printer. Of course, “It would always be picked up,” says the conventional wisdom, with several days after printing for the controller to check every single print. Wouldn't it…

MT: Michael Posted: 27 March 2009, 3:51 PM

WOC and OHV use a gray version of symbol 527.1 for urban areas (thin gray stripes). Our printer doesn't render it too well, with intensity coming and going across the page, effectively we get light and dark stripes. Probably an interaction between the spacing and dot spacing on the machine. Strangely it can be OK on a cheap home printer.

Anyone else get this with a stripy symbol? Any solutions?

MT: The Map Guy Posted: 27 March 2009, 4:25 PM

I remember this happening a number of years ago when we first started using laser copied maps - in this case it was green stripe. The printer at the time was Visual Impact in Invercargill. I seem to recall the “solution” was to increase the gaps between the lines. Roger Bee may have a better memory than me.

You could try a different printer (model) - not all printers print the same.

MT: Michael Posted: 30 March 2009, 8:34 PM

Thanks Map Guy. Pursuing your hint, the maps I've had trouble with were printed at 1:15,000. Maps at 1:10,000 have the line spacing 50% larger and I surmise that this gets above the problem level for the printer. Maybe in the days of Visual Impact (is he still printing for you SOC?) we were doing more 1:15,000 prints and/or the machine resolution wasn't so good.

Now that we've started to put park maps on the web in pdf form, I've been experimenting with using pdf's (rather than eps's) to send our maps to the printer. It seems to make little difference. The banding of stripey symbols is still there, though the bands are in different places! I can't detect any difference in the way that colours come out. Would appreciate any comment about pdf's vs eps's before changing something that OCAD seemed to favour, and which has worked for me for 15 years.

MT: Greg Posted: 30 March 2009, 8:44 PM

For sending to a printer, apparently (according to Claire the freelance graphic designer ) there should not be any difference if you send a pdf or a eps, the only thing being a eps could be edited where a pdf cant.

MT: Michael Posted: 30 March 2009, 10:22 PM

Thanks Greg and Claire. But just on a hunch I had a look at what you can import to OCAD and in version 9 you can import a pdf and edit it!!! I always thought a pdf couldn't be changed. Well except by hacker-type experts.

Even if not many people outside the orienteering fraternity will have OCAD version 9, it calls into question making maps available as pdfs. I don't think we want to give away something that can be changed. If it can be changed by OCAD then maybe by other software?

MT: mick finn Posted: 30 March 2009, 10:33 PM

PDFs can be edited if you have Acrobat Professional but it's not practical editing, you can replace text or delete bits but you can't redraw them. You can also import them into illustrator as you can an eps (same file structure postscript ps) and edit in that but it gets messy with lots of grouped vectors, particularly the contours which aren't on separate layers etc. Jpegs are the best way to remove any editability albeit giving you much larger files.

MT: Michael Posted: 30 March 2009, 11:34 PM

Based on that I tried some serious editing of a pdf in OCAD. Yes you wouldn't call it practical editing, the objects are not assigned to OCAD symbols, every dash of a dashed line is a separate object, each tick of a fence ditto, distinctive trees are just circular green lines, text is a black object in the shape of letters etc. HOWEVER it may be quite easy to for example remove the club's logo and that legal wording we're fine-tuning. Hmmm.

MT: Norm Posted: 30 March 2009, 11:50 PM

There are PDFs and PDFs… A number of word processors for example may let you make a pdf file. eg there is an add-in for Microsoft Office 2007, which lets you save as a pdf.

However if you make a file in some piece of software, say Word, but then “print” it, using Adobe Acrobat 9, then the author has at the time of making the pdf file, a number of security options that can be incorporated into the pdf.

These can be: A password to enable someone to even be able to open the file; Specifying what others can do with your file, such as copying, printing resolution, commenting, or editing.

You can have a play and try it out - download a free 30-day trial of Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional from

Then, take a file in say OCAD, Choose “Print” - (using Adobe PDF), change the pdf properties/settings, email it to yourself, and see what you then can and (more importantly!) can't do with the file.

Viewing a low resolution pdf on a monitor at 72 dpi will look fine, but if you print the map on paper to use it out in the big wide world, it will look rubbish.

MT: Claire Paterson Posted: 31 March 2009, 7:45 PM

Just to be clear, when Greg asked me quickly the difference between the two files (eps and pdf), and I replied briefly, he got me slightly wrong. Yes, pdfs are still editable, but as discussed above, not as easily as an eps. I work with both files regularly, but not with OCAD, rather with adobe illustrator.

In a design capacity, an eps is saved as file that will be edited again at a later date, whereas i would only save a pdf to send a proof to a client or to send to a printer. In both cases I usually go through all the options carefully, for example unchecking the editable part so that it basically 'flattens' the file, discarding layer information etc (as I understand). By doing this it is vertially impossible to successfully edit the file. I also save as screen resolution (72dpi) for sending to a client so that it will not print well, and is just for them to view on screen to check. Most printing should be done at high resolution (300dpi).

I dont know if this has helped at all, I see Norm and Mick also said similar things… But basically, if you provide a low resolution pdf online, and save it the right way with certain options disabled, it will not be able to printed successfully so it should be pretty safe from editing. In saying that, Mick mentioned jpegs - if you have a good image compressing program such as photoshop or fireworks, you can decrease the size of a jpeg significantly without decreasing the on-screen clarity (again - it will print pretty badly).

MT: The Map Guy Posted: 1 April 2009, 12:16 AM

I agree with what Claire has written above. I have used OCAD in conjunction with Adobe Illustrator. AI is used to add high resolution photographs on maps. It is possible to add small graphic images and print them from your home printer, but with larger images they don't print. If you are not using Adobe Illustrator you can print the map plus graphics from a EPS or PDF file exported from OCAD (versions 9 or 10). OCAD8 only allows EPS.

Graphic images are embedded into the EPS or PDF files. OCAD9 prints better than OCAD8 when it comes to printing graphic images, especially if they have gradient screens in them. Well, that is my experience off-set printing (using CMYK colours).

It is far easier/quicker to edit the files in OCAD then re-export them as EPS or PDF than trying to do it from Adobe Illustrator.

When it comes to exporting JPEG images from OCAD, although you may specify 300dpi, they are NOT when imported into AI - they are 72dpi. I have found that importing the alleged 300dpi image into other graphic manipulation software (I use the one which came with my scanner, but I expect PhotoShop will do it) then re-saving it at 300dpi it seems to work OK. The file size increases markedly on the re-save which reflects the higher resolution image.

BTW I have just had a map off-set printed for the 2009 Oxfam Trailwalker. It was printed using CMYK colours - not the conventional spot colours. The contours are great - if there are any problems on the map they are my making, not the printer. Not sure why the IOF has a hangup about CMYK printing as the modern printers are great at registration these days. I have had many maps off-set printed using CMYK process in the last 5 years (not all have contours but coloured text which must have accurate registration). All maps have been fantastic. I have used both EPS and PDF files which I have given to the printer. Many printers prefer PDF files to print from.

If you ever do any off-set printing using the CMYK process, cover your back in writing by specifying accurate registration, because if one or more colours is out the result is disasterous.

MT: Michael Posted: 1 April 2009, 1:06 AM

Thanks for all this about pdf's. It seems that we may need Acrobat Professional - but that this would help with two issues.

A little while ago I was wanting to make maps look good on the screen but bad on paper. Then we decided that we wanted SOME maps to be downloaded specifically for printing, so we've been following down that track. However in neither case do we want the map to be edited. You're saying the Acrobat Prof will give us that control.

There's just one more thing (isn't there always?) A teacher who downloads one of our (edit-protected) maps is going to want to put some circles on the map. Hmmm.

MT: Linley Posted: 2 April 2009, 1:51 PM

Some cartographers do go to bed early! Michael, going back to your urban area grey problems. We used to have that with our professional road maps so we changed the urban areas to a soft eggshell colour which looked much more appealing than the darker grey. Used 10Y 5C and 5M or something like that - however my memory might be a bit hazy. Regarding .pdf and .eps I sent half my recent event maps to the print in one format and half in the other to test the system. Couldn't tell the difference when I picked up the results. It was a 1:10 000 standard Foot O map of Orton Bradley.

MT: Michael Posted: 2 April 2009, 2:53 PM

Thanks for that Linley. Tried it and it does come out grey! Will do some more experiments, one of the criteria is that when I paint a blob of yellow over the top (which might be pale for rough open) or light green (which I use for passable forest in these maps) the distinction needs to be clear. Another criterion is to use a standard orienteering symbol if possible.

I too have found no significant differences with maps printed commercially from pdf so unless something comes up will now use them to send to the printer. Two advantages, we can eyeball them before hitting send. And (if the map is on our “free” list) that same file can go onto the web. We'll worry about people editing pdf's later.

Do you know about the IOF test file, it's an OCAD “map” with a patch of every area symbol and some of the difficult combinations such as marshes and green stripes over the various yellows, and some fine lines with very small gaps. I did some test prints from that via pdf and eps. I've also got an offset print from this file to use as a benchmark - very illuminating!

MT: The Map Guy Posted: 3 April 2009, 12:44 AM

Have you got a link for downloading the IOF test file Michael?

MT: Michael Posted: 3 April 2009, 1:31 AM

Yes isn't the IOF website a delight!

You go looking in the document library, get as far as mapping standards, and draw a blank. You have to click on “IOF”, “Commissions”, “Support Commissions”, “Map Commission”, “Documents”, and then you think, oh its the same list of mapping standards I got to before. But lurking down the bottom of the list is “IOF Map Commission Info Centre”.

But we're not there yet. It's not among the documents on the front page of the IOFMCIC (which looks suspiciously like a badly-formatted version of the same list of mapping standards you've been to twice already). You have to look in “Ongoing Projects” for the “PrintTech Project”. And then you have to look right down the bottom to find a link to the test file in OCAD8 format.

Probably fine if you were raised on Doom.

MT: Paul I Posted: 23 April 2010, 3:45 PM

Of all the digitally printed maps that i have run on i find the clearest, sharpest, truest coloured maps to have been Sprint the bay HBOC, closely followed by Oceania 2009 PAPO and next DOC's 2010, appart from the relays! (ever so slightly more coarse, and registration not quite perfect, and let down by a strange rendering of gray bare rock - not that we used those rock bits). What i do notice in common though is that all those map files appear to have been made using condes.

It would be handy to know what issues clubs have had and discovered in their hunt for the best digital printing.

MT: The Map Guy Posted: 23 April 2010, 4:19 PM

I have had quite a bit of experience getting maps printed (off-set) using PDF files. This is the format printers want these days, not EPS. I have used several printers and that was the format they preferred. To date, I have had excellent results with contour lines and coloured text being nice and sharp when they were off-set printed.

When OCAD9 was released the OCAD team changed how the software handles the printing. I can print certain maps with OCAD8 but can't with OCAD9 (non orienteering maps so don't worry folks).

OCAD10 allows large background maps (templates, or logos) to be printed, whereas earlier OCAD versions would only print the OCAD part and ignored the template. To get round this problem of printing directly from OCAD (with OCAD 8 and 9) I have to use a PDF file. Remember OCAD8 can't generate PDF files, so it has to be imported into OCAD9.

EPS and PDF files are both vector images and can be scaled without pixels showing up (as in JPG, TIFF, or BMP which are raster images). They are usually imported into Adobe software for further processing prior to printing (i.e. generating “plates”).

Commercial and CopyShop printing is usually done at higher resolution than what you use on your home printer. Every different model of laser printer seems to produce its own specific result.

Don't use Phaser printers for printing maps - they look terrible (oily and fuzzy).

mapping/printinggen2010.txt · Last modified: 12:50pm Tue 25 October 2022 by