Born in NC, raised in Moore County, Dr. Carl Blue is an Associate Professor for the Department of Graphic Communications at Clemson University. He obtained his BS in Communications with a concentration in Graphic Design from Appalachian State University (ASU) in 1985. After undergrad, he worked in newspapers, television, and a photography studio before leaving for three years in the US Peace Corps in Honduras and Uruguay as a teacher and small business trainer. Before returning to graduate school, he worked for seven years in the textile industry producing marketing materials and tradeshows. In 1999 he returned to ASU to complete a Masters in Industrial Arts with a concentration in Technical Communications in digital media. ASU hired him in 2001 as a Computer Consultant II, “Associate Webmaster,” responsible for maintaining university websites, designing department websites, and teaching faculty and staff courses in web development. In 2003 he was recruited by North Carolina State University (NCSU) to pursue an EdD in Technology Education. While at NCSU he was a TA of digital graphics and media communication courses and was an RA on two NSF grants. After graduation from NCSU in 2006, he was hired as Coordinator of Graphic Communication Program and Assistant Professor at the University of Northern Iowa in the Department of Industrial Technology. In 2009 he relocated to Western Illinois University to work in the Department of Engineering Technology as an Assistant Professor in the Graphic Communications Program. In 2011 he transferred to the University of Southern Maine in the Department of Technology teaching in their Technology Management: Information and Communication Tech concentration degree. Received tenure in 2015, and was appointed and served as Department Chair until 2019.

Research On the Effectiveness of Tablet-based Apps for Developing Raster and Vector Print-ready Files for Conventional Printing Processes

Need: There has been an increase in the use of tablet-based platforms in the classroom, demonstrating an increase in students’ interest in these tools that mimic the use of a pencil, inks, and brushes. This progression of use proposes a problem. Are the digital graphics produced print-ready, or does the end-product require additional image management to
develop quality print-ready process color separations, tints, and spot-color jobs, including color- trapping capabilities?

Observations: In recent years, tablet-based raster and vector graphic design apps have made in-roads into the classroom and the hands of students for the creation of print production graphics. On some occasions, students use these powerful devices and accompanying styluses to produce preliminary sketches and thumbnails of their projects. However, more recently, tablet-based products are being submitted as print-ready yet lack the requirements for conventional print production workflows for screen-printing, offset, and flexography applications, for example, color trapping. One objective is to use these tablet applications in tandem with the more traditional computer graphic production applications for conventional process printing. Some tablet-based graphic applications can work in both RGB and CMYK color modes, either in raster or vector formats, including more established Adobe products that offer scaled-down versions of Illustrator and Photoshop as part of their suite of Creative Cloud applications through their licensing. The proliferation of these tablet-based platforms demonstrates students increasing interest in engaging with these tools that mimic the use of a pencil, inks, and brushes, which proposes a problem since they began to show up in the classrooms. Are the digital graphics that these tablet technologies produce print-ready, or does the end-product require additional image management to develop quality print-ready process color separations, tints, and spot-color jobs, including color-trapping capabilities? The goal of this paper and presentation is to identify areas where the tablet-generated graphics demonstrate strengths as a viable design tool and to the extent where there are limitations with the end-product regarding the constraints and requirements for producing print-ready (press-ready) files.

Major points:

  • Is this the demise of the laptop computer and standard graphics applications? As tablets are becoming more comparable to standard computers and the increased capabilities of the available apps for developing graphics, they are becoming a workable choice of graphic designers and students.
  • Are these devices producing the raster and vector files of the standards needed to produce quality pre-press files for production?
  • Explore the possible solutions for enhancing and converting tablet-generated graphic solutions for producing print-ready graphics.
  • Provide examples of where tablet-generated graphics are being produced yet need some adjustments to meet the standards of outputting film for conventional printing processes.
  • Discuss popular tablet apps: Procreate, Adobe Photoshop Sketch, Sketchbook, Adobe Illustrator Draw, and more.