Diving Into Dynamic Print

We’re not shy about our gold medal-worthy skills with dynamic print design.

And while we may not have had the budget to make a Rocky-style montage, we still wanted to give an inside look of how we turn our ideas into heavyweight dimensional paper champions.

Wonderful Work Starts With Wonderful Clients

Our friends at Legacy Retirement Communities definitely fit the bill of wonderful clients. LRC gives us the opportunity to flex our dynamic print design muscles by creating invitations to community events they put on throughout the year. Below you’ll see the process for designing the invitation to one of these events, the Terrace Town Carnival.

It’s always a joy working with LRC because of how much trust they put in our creative process. With the Terrace Town Carnival invitation design, we had a simple design prompt: Make it fun.

Phase 1: Brainstorm

Everyone on the team brought ideas to the table for how to bring this carnival to life in paper form. Ideas ranged from a Ferris wheel to a full-on 3-D carnival tent to a megaphone or paper merry-go-round. This early in a dynamic print brainstorm, no ideas are off limits. In fact, we like to start with some wild, borderline infeasible ideas just to see if they spark any creative offshoot ideas that we can apply to the final product.

As you can see, the invitation started to take shape over the course of many sketches.

Phase 2: Dynamic Engineering

Next, we focused on bringing this idea into reality. The potential shape and materiality of the project came into play as we began to engineer a die line; the customized cut that allows us to print large quantities of any shape we want.

Want to know how challenging this part can be? Go find a dimensional paper or cardboard product like a 6-pack or a pop-up card and carefully take it apart without ripping anything. Once it’s totally disassembled, lie the paper or cardboard down flat and look at the shape.

It’s pretty crazy to think how that shape went from an idea in someone’s head to physical reality, isn’t it?

Phase 3: Mockups

As with all dynamic print designs, we started testing like crazy once we had a clear idea of the piece’s shape and how the user experience would play out. Basically, we consider every possible way that a user could interact with the piece. Dynamic print design, like all good design, should be easy to use and pleasant to engage with. It shouldn’t be confusing, hard to read or unclear how to interact with it.

We’re also constantly thinking about how we can make our dynamic print pieces as engaging as possible. How can we encourage the reader to interact with the piece? How can we design the piece to give them a fun experience as they read, unfold or assemble it? How can we make them want to keep coming back to it—or just make it simply unforgettable?

Building mockups is the best and most effective way to get a true feel for that user experience. It’s also why our paper recycling bin always gets a little fatter on mockup day. Iteration is the lifeblood of good design.

Phase 4: Final Design Mock-up

The concept was totally hammered out and the die line was created. Then it was time to apply the refined graphics and copy. At this final phase, we can make any minor tweaks to the piece that don’t affect the overall user experience.

Next, we sent the piece off to the printer, where a small batch of proofs were made. These proofs let us mock up the final product as it would appear in mailboxes, down to the color of the ink, the paper stock and the assembly. Barring any errors at this stage—design, spelling, experiential or otherwise—the printer moves forward making the full quantity of pieces, assembling them and preparing them for mail.

Having a physical proof proved to be especially important for the Terrace Town Carnival. Since this piece would be particularly thick when assembled, it had the potential to be problematic for the mail house. But having a proof allowed us to mock up an exact replica of the final product and measure its thickness.

Then, it was up to the mail house to get this masterpiece into mailboxes across Lincoln and get people excited about the event.

Phase 5: Dance!