Now, before you think this is a personal post, or one steered at those who may feel insecure about their print knowledge, this post is about one of the simplest and easiest tools at a printer’s fingertips: paper dummies.
Paper dummies, or mock-ups, are beneficial tools in the print process, primarily at the estimating, design, and project planning stages. Paper dummies are ordered using the actual paper being specified, which allows the designer and the printer to learn the characteristics of the paper, the thickness and show-through of the paper, and if the project has some special binding, the thickness of the spine. They can be very simple to order. Most of the paper re-sellers like Spicers Paper or Vertiv (formerly Xpedx and Unisource) have sample departments, and if you call early enough in the day and order what you need, they can manufacture what you ask for and have it to you next day via FedEx or priority mail. As a rule, I always order two of each variation, since I give one to the client and then keep one for Production.
Another type of dummy is called a white sample, and this type of dummy is more based on a structural piece, such as packaging or a POP display. These, too, are manufactured on the actual paper to be used, and can either be hand-cut and assembled, or CAD-cut using the actual Illustrator file, and then assembled. The value of this is that it provides the client the tactile feel of the finished product, and allows them to visualize how the piece will assemble together.
No matter what, even for something as simple as a 4-pager, generating a paper dummy or white sample can insure the success of a print project. Paper companies are very willing to assist both the print buyer and the print services provider in manufacturing dummies, so don’t hesitate to call or email them with your request.