Artwork guide

Supplying files – or working with our Studio

Some clients like to supply their own artwork but there are a number of considerations to make to ensure that what you see on your screen and on your own proofs is reflected in the product you receive.

Make sure that if you are providing PDF’s (printers prefer PDF’s) fonts are embedded
All images should be at least 150 dpi (dots per inch) at the size you need them. Ideally they should be 300dpi and the higher the resolution the better generally.
Ensure all images are supplied CMYK rather than RGB. A little note on this; if you take a picture using a digital camera or mobile phone it will be automatically set as an RGB (Red, Green, Blue) image as this is how it is displayed on a monitor, however the print process uses CYMK (Cyan, Yellow Magenta, Black). If you don’t supply the files converted then you may experience some unpredictable results. Never use images from social media sites as the resolution is far to low to print with.

We can offer various templates in PDF format for you to use when creating artwork, these will be added soon to our website for you to download.

Our guide below will ensure you receive a high quality printed product.

Bleed and safe zone guide.

How much bleed should I give?

We stick to the industry standard of a 3mm bleed on each edge.

What size should the safe zone be?

Again, for the vast majority of our products, we stick to the industry standard on safe zones which is 3mm in from the finished edge on each side. There are a couple of products which should include a larger safe zone and they are as follows:

  • Perfect Bound Booklets require a 7mm safe zone on each edge
  • PVC Banners require a 36mm safe zone on each edge
  • Calendars require a 9mm safe zone along the binding edge but only 3mm on all other edges

Colour guide.

We don’t check documents for colour set-up, and automatically convert all RGB documents into CMYK. This can cause some variations in colour, so we recommend that you set up your design software in CMYK where possible.

The RGB spectrum is much larger than CMYK. This makes it difficult to create a consistent quality of print within an RGB spectrum, as the variations can also differ between different printing presses (even if they are identical models). CMYK ensures a high standard of print quality, and no variation of colour during the print process.

How to produce artwork in cmyk.

Most major design programmes will allow you to create a canvas in CMYK. Whichever programme you’re using, you should be able to find and adjust the following settings:

  • Colour Mode: CMYK (sometimes called Process Colours);
  • Colour Profile: Forgra 39 (ISO 12647-2:2004);
  • Export as PDF/x01a:2001.

Remember to check your proof before submitting for print and use a colour-calibrated computer monitor, if possible.

Font guide.

Use the following methods to ensure that your fonts will not be substituted when sent over to another computer.

If you have the font license for the font you have used in the design file, when converting into a PDF you will be asked if you would like to embed the fonts in the document. Selecting ‘yes’ packages the fonts with the document information files, so that when opened on another computer it will look exactly the same.

Saving as an image.

You can save a file into a raster format, such as a JPEG, PNG, or TIFF, so that the font becomes part of the image. This means it won’t look any different when opened on any other computer but it does
mean it is much harder to edit at a later date. This method is ideal for final proofing or sending to print,
as every computer will display the same image.

Outline your text.

If you are using Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, you will have the ability to ‘outline’ your text. This will turn your text into a vector shape and ensures that it will not be converted in to another font when you send the file from one computer to another.

Transparency guide.

If transparency on a PDF is not set up correctly for print, this can cause problems. For example, without transparency one object on a top layer will be printed without any transparency, blocking any object on lower layers in the document.

How to avoid transparency issues.

The best way to avoid transparency problems is to ‘flatten’ layers within your PDF, so that a commercial
printing press can read all layers correctly.
You can do this in three different ways:

1) Use flattening tools within the design software such as Adobe InDesign or Photoshop;
2) Save in a certified format – PDF/x1a:2001 – to ensure flattening;
3) Save the file into a raster format such as a JPEG or PNG.

In Photoshop select all layers then right click and select ‘Flatten Image’ this will turn the arwork into one layer.

In Illustrator export artwork and make sure ‘Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities’ is unchecked.

In Indesign make sure to export using the preset – PDF/x1a:2001 – this will ensure flattening.

Compression Guide.

What files types can I upload?

The best file types to send us are PDFs and JPEGs but we can also accept files from Adobe design programmes, including InDesign, Illustrator and Photoshop.

Unfortunately we cannot accept design files from non-Adobe programmes like Quark and Coral. This is because the system we use is unable to even open these files. We also cannot accept files from Microsoft Office programmes, such as PowerPoint, Word and Publisher as these are incompatible with our proofing tool. In order to send us your artwork, your file needs to be smaller than 200mb. Follow these step-by-step guides to understand how compress your files using Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, or Photoshop.

Indesign PDF
Go to File > Export, choose PDF as the ‘Save As Type’ option. In the pop-up, select ‘Compression’ and
amend the settings to the below

Indesign JPEG
Go to File > Export, Choose JPEG as the ‘Save As Type’ option. In the pop-up, choose ‘Compression’ and
amend the settings to the below

Illustrator PDF

Go to File > Save As, Choose PDF as the ‘Save As Type’ option, In the pop-up, select ‘Compression’ and
amend the settings to the below.

Illustrator JPG

Go to File > Export, Choose JPEG as the ‘Save As Type’ option, In the pop-up, choose ‘Compression’ and
amend the settings to the below

Photoshop PDF

• Go to File > Save As, Choose PDF as the ‘Save As Type’ option, In the pop-up, select ‘Compression’ and
amend the settings to the below.

Photoshop JPG

• Go to File >Save As, Choose JPEG as the ‘Save As Type’ option, In the pop-up amend the settings to the below.

If you don’t have access to your original design file, you’ll have a PDF version which may also need compressing. You can do this using Adobe InDesign by creating a new document and inserting the PDF. You then follow the instructions above to compress the file.

How to check the resolution of your compressed file.

Within your compressed PDF document, you can zoom in to the artwork. This will show the true resolution, even taking into account that your computer screen will have a lower resolution than a commercial printer.

The general rule of thumb is to zoom in on your image by 300-400% to gain a good idea of how the
image will look when printed.

What if my artwork looks pixelated when I zoom in?

Try to revisit the steps above and check that your compression settings are the same as in the screenshots.

If the original file has pixelated artwork, this will also result in a fuzzy compressed file. Check your original artwork using the zoom in conversion table above to make sure the resolution is suitable before compression.

You can also check the resolution of a JPEG in Photoshop by going to File > Image > Image Size. This shows you the file size and resolution.

Resolution guide.

You will need to prepare your artwork to certain DPIs depending on which products you are planning to print.

  • For digital and litho printing we require 300 DPI
  • For large format printing, we require at least 150 DPI
  • And for hemmed banners, we require at least 150 DPI

Spot uv guide.

Spot UV can be quite tricky to get right. When setting up your artwork, you must signal to the printer that certain elements of the design are not created using the normal CMYK inks and are instead created using the spot UV gel. Below are instructions on how you can do this using Adobe InDesign and Illustrator.

  1. Create a Unique Spot Colour in Your Design Programme

i. Create a new colour swatch in the swatches panel
ii. Change the ‘Colour Type’ to ‘Spot’
iii. Create a new colour value (we recommend using a bright colour to distinguish your spot colour from the colours you’re actually using in your design – we use 50% Magenta and 100% Yellow)
iv. Name this new colour swatch “Spot UV” – this is very important because our system has been set up to recognise the name Spot UV

Spot uv guide
  1. Design Your Spot UV Layer

i. Create a second layer for your design (you might like to rename this layer to make things easier
when you switch between the two)
ii. Toggle your viewing setting so that you can see what’s on the layer underneath
iii. Copy elements from your first layer that you want to be emphasised by spot UV and paste them into your second layer – or, design completely new elements in the second layer. (Note: these elements should be vectorised shapes for best quality)
iv. Recolour all elements in the second layer with your unique ‘Spot UV’ colour

3. Save as a PDF and send to print

We hope you found this guide use full, if you have any questions or require some advice on how to prepare your artwork please do feel free to contact us.

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