Variable Data Printing Tutorial

VDP with CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2018 - By Roger Wambolt, Senior Product Trainer, Corel
CorelDRAW® Graphics Suite 2018 is a powerful application that allows Variable Data Printing (VDP). In this tutorial, we’re going to explore the process of using CorelDRAW as part of your VDP workflow for creating student ID cards.
The power of VDP lies in its ability to perform a print merge that automates the process of bringing together various elements such as images, text, and barcodes into a common template.

Before we get started with the tutorial, it’s essential to note that when using a file for VDP, there are a few simple rules that must be followed for a successful output:

1. The RIP you’re using must be able to support Variable Data;
2. The design needs to have frames or containers where the data will be inserted and these containers must be created using spot colours that have specific names;
3. The spreadsheet with the data must have column headers that match the colour names.

As mentioned, VDP is only possible when using a compatible RIP. For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using Roland VersaWorks Dual that’s included in CorelDRAW 2018.

First, let’s start with a quick look at the spreadsheet where we’re hosting our student ID data. In this case, there are three columns: “VDP_BARCODE” where I have used the student ID number that we’ll print with a barcode font; “VDP_NAME” which lists the students’ names; and “VDP_PHOTO” which is a listing of the path to each corresponding headshot.
Please note, photos must be one of the following formats; JPEG, TIFF, EPS, PDF, or PS. To create the list of photos showing the required full path, head to Windows and from a Command Prompt in the Photo directory, type the following command and pipe it to a text document: dir/s/b *.jpg > student_list.txt. This will create a txt file that you can copy and paste into the spreadsheet.

Now, it’s time to create a custom colour palette within CorelDRAW. Go to Windows>Color Palettes>Color Palette Manager. Then navigate under Palette Libraries>Spot>Roland and select Roland VersaWorks. From the flyout at the top of this palette, select Palette > Save as and give your new palette a name. I called mine “VDP_Printing.”
Next, from the Windows menu go to Color Palettes > Palette Editor. Here, we’ll leave the CutContour colour alone, but will change the names of the other colours listed. While in the Palette Editor, we’re also going to change the colours to something easy to see on the document. When making these changes, it’s important to ensure that you select only spot colours and that the colour names reflect the element in the spreadsheet each will represent. For example, we’ll name the colour that indicates where the photo will be placed “VDP_PHOTO.” As you go through this process, it’s also important to ensure that all colour names begin with “VDP_” and are all in caps. The final step is to make the colour names visible, by clicking on the flyout icon at the top of the Color Palette and selecting Show Color Names. This will make it easier to select the desired colours for the correct objects.

Once you’ve finished the design, it’s time to change the colour of the VDP frames using the appropriate colours from your customised palette. Then export the file as an EPS. Note, as you’re doing this step, Convert spot colors to should not be selected.

In VersaWorks Dual, drag your EPS file into the Job List and click the settings icon (bottom left corner). Then in the Job Settings, click on Variable Data in the lower left corner. Enable the check box above the Variable Data Settings and then bring in the CSV spreadsheet file with your data by clicking on the yellow folder within Variable Data Settings.
Select the column label to format how the element will appear on the card. In the Attributes panel, you can edit text, change fonts, and make a number of other formatting changes.

Once you’ve formatted all the columns, click on the Layout icon in the top left corner to configure the media, scaling, and print properties. Once all this is done, it’s just a matter of clicking Print.
If you’ve put a cutline around your ID card template, once the printing is completed, the printer will go ahead and cut the cards.

As we explored in this tutorial, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2018 is an ideal tool for speeding up and simplifying your VDP workflow. To learn more about the new features in the suite, please download the free 15-day trial from www.coreldraw.com .

Roger Wambolt is Senior Product trainer with Corel. For more information about CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, please visit www.coreldraw.com