Design Reproduction Technology (DRT)

DRT At a Glance

  • Links design with technology
  • Understands the language and job functions of the graphic designer, print provider and web developer
  • Understands how to take a conceptual design and turn it into a finished product


DRT In Depth

Design reproduction technology links design and technology, but it is not the study or practice of graphic design. It involves ensuring that a design is produced and then manipulated in ways that are optimal for its application. Repurposing is an important part of this process. Repurposing means taking a particular piece of artwork and converting it to suit the medium for which it is going to be used. For example, the technical characteristics of a piece of artwork will be different if the artwork is going to be used for a print brochure than if it will be displayed on a web site. The technical characteristics for print and computer or television monitors are very different. They also differ for printing on standard paper as opposed to inkjet photo paper, or newsprint. The difference is related to things such as resolution, screen rulings, color gamut, and more. Design reproduction technology takes into account such considerations before an image or design is moved to the medium on which it will ultimately appear.

DRT links design and technology. It frees the graphic designer to focus on the aesthetic and creative facets of design rather than on the technology, which has become the job of the design reproduction technologist. This design technologist understands the language and role of the graphic designer as well as the roles of those involved in reproducing design in print and and web. The design reproduction technologist understands how to take a conceptual design and turn it into a finished product.

Design reproduction technologists require an understanding of design principles as well as a high level of computer skills. They either develop a design for the client, or the client gives them the design and they make it production-ready for print or electronic media. Hence, it is vital that design reproduction technologists be familiar with the different types of printing processes as well as the processes involved in creating web sites, DVDs, and related media.

Today design and artwork are produced on computers using software. Software packages are available for all major operating platforms such as Windows and Macintosh. Design reproduction technologists must be versed in each major platform, though Macintosh presently dominates the graphic arts industry. These platforms and related software are used for color and type selection, sizing, retouching, pagination, and more. The work of the design reproduction technologist in making images ready for production and reproduction can lead to high-resolution hard proofs produced on color printers or to images on a computer monitor for soft proofing or final imaging. In some cases the finished image can go directly to a printing plate or directly to a printing press cylinder.

In any event, the final work of the design reproduction technologist must precisely meet the expectations of the client. This is achieved by working closely with the creative people involved in the design phase of the project and with the technical staff involved in its final reproduction or distribution. Employment prospects for qualified design reproduction technologists are very strong. The most dramatic growth in employment opportunities over the next decade will be in the areas of digital printing and in non-print electronic imaging such as web design and production.

In sum, the design reproduction technologist focuses on "graphic thinking" and understanding the principles of design and technology as they relate to advertising and publication production, packaging, commercial printing, and other media. Additionally, the focus is on manipulating designs through the use of digital cameras and scanners and preparing designs for print or web using the latest trends and computer applications. The design technologist also understands the technical limitations and production requirements for print and non-print production and distribution.

Advertising agencies, publishing companies, and any other industry segments that combine art, design, and technology in producing a final product engage the services of a design reproduction technologist.

Examples of DRT Work

DRT focuses on:

  • Design with the reproduction process in mind
  • Design for both print and web
  • Design technology and principles
  • Advertising and publication production and design
  • Typography for print and web
  • Technical limitations and production requirements
  • Software knowledge for design and production

DRT Career Opportunities

  • Print Buyer
  • Production Artist
  • Advertising and Packaging
  • Project Manager
  • Book & Magazine Publishing
  • Prepress and Production
  • Digital Design
  • Web Design and Development

DRT Coordinator

For More information about the DRT concentration contact Donna Templeton

Lorraine Donegan

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