How'd They Print That? A Panoramic View

After seeing examples of panoramic binding—where individual spreads are scored, folded, and glued front to back, creating a lay-flat book without image-gobbling gutters—Rich Pauptit, president of Flash Reproductions (Etobicoke, Onatario) and his team decided to test the limits of the technique. Pauptit sought partners to complement his business’ printing capabilities and help conceptualize an interesting project. The Toronto-based team consisted of Specialties Graphics Finishers, a renowned bindery; Up Inc., a branding, design, and communications firm; and photographer Sandy Nicholson. Together, they arrived at “0to100”, a delightful, 216-page book featuring Nicholson’s portraits of 100 individuals, aged exactly 0 to 100 years old.

The elevator pitch sounds simple, yet the ride was anything but.

The first milestone was agreeing on the biggest benefit of panoramic binding: no gutters, with images running fully across the spread. Or, as Pauptit calls it, “a book that consists entirely of center spreads!” From there, they arrived at the idea of showing people’s faces with their nose dead center in the gutter: a nightmare situation in either a perfect bound book or saddle-stitched brochure. Originally conceived as a large-format book that would open to 24x18 inches, the project had to be downsized because the paper was curling too much. But what they lost in width and height they made up for in thickness, with the final book measuring 5.5 inches wide by 10 inches high and two inches thick.

Sticky problem

The next challenge was gluing the pages together so the spreads stacked up correctly and did not shift. This meant searching for the right paper—found with Huge Paper which supplied Nice Matte, a 115-pound coated text sheet with plenty of tooth to react properly with the glue that was applied in minimal quantities and had to be left sitting three or four days before handling. The body is printed offset in CMYK with a pearlescent metallic spot for the portrait backgrounds, giving them a subtle bronze sheen. Forms were set 6-up on 23x35 inch sheets so that the pages could be folded against the grain. That may seem counterintuitive but, because any potential cracking could be hidden with the spine, this set up allowed for the best use of the sheet.

Once printed, stacked, and aligned, the book could be trimmed. And at two inches thick, it trimmed like a sophisticated brick. To expose the binding, the book features a cloth spine that does not adhere to the body, giving it remarkable flexibility that allows it to open up to a full 360 degrees. The spine is sandwiched between two extra-heavy pieces of chipboard, and both are silkscreened—the spine with a brown spot color and the cover with a pearlescent gloss—providing a raw contrast to the otherwise smooth presentation. Each book takes an average of 45 to 60 minutes to put together, in contrast to the 1,500 units that can be assembled via perfect binding in less than an hour.

Every minute is worth it, for sure. The result serves as a wonderful delivery for Nicholson’s superbly detailed and personal portraits as well as for Up Inc.’s understated design, The Gas Company’s (another Toronto partner) photo retouching, and, of course, Flash Reproduction’s printing. Each of the project’s partners got a share from the 1,000 print run of “0to100”, and they each use and distribute it on their own. The project is available online at and as a free iPad application worth downloading—you don’t have to worry about gutters with it! PN

Editor’s note: After a 15-month hiatus, Cygnus Graphics Media is excited that “How’d They Print That?” is back! For years, the wildly popular page graced the inside back cover of the now-defunct Graphic Arts Monthly magazine. Printing News has resurrected the print lab of sorts under the editorial eye of Mark Vruno. So if you know of a particularly cool sample you’d like to see featured here, email

About the author: Born and raised in Mexico City, Armin Vit is a graphic designer and writer now living in Austin, TX. Vit is co-founder and principal of UnderConsideration, a graphic design firm and publishing enterprise all rolled into one. Among the handful of design industry blogs he runs is FPO (For Print Only), celebrating the reality that print is not dead by showcasing the most compelling printed projects.