Print Production course at Sessions College

Print Production

3 credits

DES 205: Print Production

Learn how to execute print production jobs

For a novice designer, sending a job to the printer is a mysterious (and expensive) process of trial and error. To manage a print job effectively, you must understand how print shops work, how to communicate with them, and how to identify the best design solution for your budget. In this online print production course, you can learn the fundamentals of producing professional-looking print publications. Working with an expert instructor, you'll learn to choose papers and Pantone inks, modify your materials and processes based on a budget, use Adobe InDesign to prepare designs for print, manage the phases of the production workflow, and most importantly produce high-quality work.

Course At A Glance

Course Features

  • 100% online
  • Project-based
  • Instructor-led
  • Credit-bearing: 3 Credits
  • Classes start January, April, and August


The course is taught by the following instructor(s):

Course developed by: Paul Halupka

Take this course as a standalone or as part of the following program(s):

Course Projects

    1. Welcome to the Land of Print

      Any time you work with a printer, you've just landed two jobs: designer and production manager. What's required? The class begins with a thorough overview of the print production process. You'll look at the steps for communicating print jobs from a client to a designer to a printer. You'll also gain a foundation in the materials and techniques used in print jobs, from basic paper and inks to offset lithography and a step-by-step look at prepress and finishing.

    2. Software and Materials

      Now that you have a foundation in printing processes, this week's class takes you deeper into the techniques and materials used to create dazzling print jobs. You'll learn how and when InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop fit in to the process and you'll walk through a project that puts them all together. Special printing methods, such as digital offset and letterpress, are defined, as are methods of assembling and binding multi-page documents. Finally, you'll take a close look at papers and their specifications and methods of selecting spot colors, process colors, and varnishes.

    3. Designer as Communicator

      The designer is the shepherd of the entire print production process. In this session, the client-designer-printer triangle is explored in depth, detailing the creation of creative briefs, print specs, and the all-important budget. You'll learn how to tie quality, budget, and time together for an efficient and attractive product and how to choose the right printer for the job.

    4. Designing Within Your Specs

      Your creative brief and print specs get you nowhere without good design to back them up. This week's class focuses on translating your specs into real design using InDesign swatches, budget-friendly spot color tints, and image prep techniques in Photoshop. You will also explore some of the printing effects that can make a project really special, like embossing. You'll wrap up with a detailed case study of specs put into action for a budget- and eco-conscious annual report.

    5. Problem Solving and Tweaking

      Print designers are flexible folk with good tolerance for change. This week, common types of changes in a print job are defined, including budgetary changes and editorial changes. You will learn how to manage a print estimate and adjust for budget cuts, and you'll explore a creative case study that managed the budget effectively. You will also learn InDesign techniques for scrutinizing and polishing document text.

    6. Sending Your Design to Print

      All done? Not until you prepare your print job for final production. The final lecture covers the detail-intensive world of the preflight check and file preparation. You'll learn what items to examine and revise for hand-off to your printer, and you'll learn how to prepare a press-quality PDF and InDesign file package to send to print. The prepress and proofing processes are covered in detail so you'll know just what to look for in finalizing your jobs.

Sample Student Work

63-ccarreon by Cecile Carreon

Course Outcomes

What Are The Course Projects?

Hands-on creative projects including brochure, mailer and invitation design guide you through the print production process.

What Software or Supplies Do I Need?
  • Computer with Internet connection.
  • Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator required. Adobe Acrobat recommended.
  • Basic experience in graphic design and the above software.
What Will I Learn?

Students in this course can expect to learn to:

  • Identify the roles involved in print production and the step-by-step processes in managing a print project.
  • Identify steps of printing a commercial project using offset lithography.
  • Use InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop to effectively manage files in a print document.
  • Identify and select appropriate options for binding, inks, paper, varnishes, and special printing processes.
  • Choose spot colors, simulate spot colors with CMYK, and create color tints and mixed inks.
  • Write effective creative briefs and print specs that reflect client goals, printing requirements, scheduling, and budget constraints.
  • Locate and select appropriate local printers and online printers and solicit a print estimate.
  • Translate print specifications into a complete design using PANTONE swatches, color management, photo preparation, and print techniques including special effects.
  • Address client changes to the budget and to the content of a print job.
  • Reduce the cost of a print job by adjusting colors or materials.
  • Finalize text content using InDesign typography and character techniques.
  • Preflight a print project, checking for and resolving issues with color, files, and resolution.
  • Create packages and PDFs of print jobs to send to a printer.
  • Identify steps in the prepress, proofing, and press check processes involved in completing a print job.

Getting Started

Course Registration

  • Classes start January, April, and August
  • 3 Credit Course
  • Project-Based: Exercises, Discussions, and Critiques

Course Tuition and Fees
Registration Fee* $200
Total Course Price $1730

Registration fees are nonrefundable after 5 days from enrollment. All tuition includes a digital materials fee for course content.

Course Registration Form

To register for this course, use the form below to enter your information and desired start date. An Admissions Advisor will contact you to arrange payment and provide you with an Enrollment Agreement.

PD: Course Registration

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)


What Are The Courses Like?

Our courses are project-based. In each course you’ll enjoy a series of lectures, projects, discussions, and critiques designed to stretch your creative skills, earning college credit for your completed course.

How Much Time Do I Need?

Classes start January, April, and August, and this course can be completed in a 15-week term. College credit from this course can be applied to a range of degree and certificate level programs at Sessions College.

Who Are The Instructors?

Our courses are developed and taught by our faculty of professional artists, designers, and photographers. This means that you’ll learn in-demand skills, get feedback on your work, and build a portfolio of creative work.

Is Sessions College accredited?

Yes. Since 2001, Sessions College has been accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a recognized accrediting agency and is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).