Is your artwork print ready?
There are three main things to bear in mind when supplying your artwork for print…
Does your document contain crop marks?
Did you include bleed?
Is all your important content away from the trim edge?
Crop marks (also known as trim) are used to show us the required print size of your document. Our printers can’t actually print to the very edge of the paper, so instead we print on a larger sheet of paper and then trim it down to the correct size.
The term ‘bleed’ refers to the area around the edge of the artwork that gets cut off in the trimming process. The industry standard is to add 3mm to each edge. Trimming isn’t always 100% accurate, so we need a little wriggle room to account for this.
The safe zone is the area inside the trim that will be kept clear from guillotine blades, any text or logos should be kept within this area. We require a 5mm ‘safe zone’ inside the ‘trim’ on all edges, to prevent important design elements being cut off.
Not all software applications allow you to add bleed to your print file. If your software allows it, add 3mm bleed to your artwork when creating your file. If you can’t add bleed, your file needs to have slightly larger dimensions to print correctly. To work this out, add 6mm to the the length and width of your finished print size. Examples:
A4 print size = 210mm x 297mm. Size including bleed = 216mm x 303mm
A5 print size = 148.5 x 210mm. Size including bleed = 153.5mm x 216mm
You must then insure that all your important content, such as logos and wording, are kept well away from the edges (3mm bleed + 5mm safe margin = 8mm recommended). Extend your background colours and design elements to cover the bleed area / extra space. 3mm will be cropped from each edge once printed.
If you are struggling, feel free to get in touch so we can advise you. We’re happy to help before printing your file.
example of final print-ready page
When sending us your sticker artwork please provide us with a single PDF of your design – our fancy press will lay it out on the page, don’t worry! Use the checklist below to make sure your file is ready for print…
Add Bleed & Crop Marks
Supply your image with 3mm bleed and crop marks
Minimum Font Size - 8pt
Please keep text at 8pt or higher.
Minimum Stroke - 0.5pt
Sharp lines need to be kept at 0.5pt or thicker.
WEB vs PRINT
Screen resolution is measured in PPI (pixels per inch) and print resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch), though the terms are often used interchangeably. Because the entire viewing area on a computer monitor is made up of pixels of a fixed resolution – typically 72 to 100 ppi – any image optimized for that resolution looks fully detailed and natural to the human eye.
But if that same image is printed at full size, its inherent pixel blockiness becomes readily apparent. Another consideration is that the side effects of image compression for smaller web image file sizes (like distortion around edges) can become unsightly.
For professional print graphics, 300 dpi is standard. If you want to use a web image in print, you run into problems. Really the only way to make it work is if you want to print a 72 ppi web image as a tiny inset, which can look fine. But there’s no way to magically generate extra pixels and make a beautiful brochure cover image out of your Facebook cover image.
When you have a choice of image sizes at your disposal, such as from an in-house image library or stock photo site, it’s best to go for the largest image you can get. Any image can be made smaller as needed, but it can’t be sized up without losing quality. When it comes to resolution, bigger really is better.
Get the most from digital
In addition to following the general advice for artwork, there are a few other things that you should consider that are specifically related to our digital printing process. To ensure you get the best printed results, follow this advice…
Total ink limits
Avoid using colours with a total ink limit over 275%. Any colours exceeding this will be re-mapped to their nearest equivalent so there may be a noticeable shift.
Where digital is concerned, bigger IS definitely better – we recommend at least 10mm. Having elements less than 10mm from the edge may be printed with unexpected results.
Where possible, keep the design simple, lots of white space tends to work well. Large areas of flat colour can be problematic, resulting in an uneven solid that can look banded. A large area is defined as larger than 40mm square.
To achieve neutral shades of grey use black only. Best to avoid using grey tints below 20% or over 80%. Large areas of grey can appear patchy and uneven – consider adding a texture. Greys that are multi channel have a tendency to print unevenly with a yellow cast to them.
Gradients and blends
Gradients don’t print well, If you must use them, try adding texture or a low amount of noise to ensure a smoother transition from light to dark. Alternatively, limit blends to less than a 50% tint change. Grey tints are less forgiving than other colours. You’ll get better results if you create your blends in a raster based application such as Photoshop.
Images and scans
Bear in mind that any minor imperfections in images such as specs or scratches may be more obvious due to the difference in technology.
There may be some movement between the front and back of the sheet. This is due to paper stress. A movement of up to 2mm is considered to be within tolerance.