Preparation is the key to success!
Due to slight shifting that occurs during printing and trimming, any artwork that is designed too close to the final trim edge is at risk of being cut off or may show inconsistent margins. We encourage any artwork that is not meant to reach the edge of the final print be roughly 3/8 inch away from the trim edge. This is considered the safe area. For smaller size projects such as a postcard, we recommend no lower than a 1/4 inch margin. Business card margins may be reduced as low as 3/16 inch.
The lack of bleed is a common issue encountered by prepress operators. Although some printers will go ahead and print the file anyway, we do try to fix the file as best we can if a client is unable.
What is bleed !?
Bleed is the concept of extending artwork past the edge of the final trim line. When a document has bleed, it must be printed on a larger sheet of paper and then trimmed down to the finished size. Now why would I need extra artwork that gets cut off anyways? Well, printing and trimming will never be 100% perfect. That being said, we work diligently to stay within a 1/32 inch tolerance. But without bleed,
any artwork that’s meant to be printed to the edge of the page is at risk of showing slivers of white border or it might be undercut, taking off artwork that you do want shown.
To ensure that you design with bleeds, follow the steps below based of the appropriate program.
Illustrator / InDesign
1. File > New > Document...
2. Bleed and Slug > Bleed: .125 in
3. Click OK
There should be a red border around your artboard. Any artwork that reaches to the edge of the page should extend past the black line all the way to this red bleed line.
Photoshop / Word / Publisher
Photoshop and non-design programs such as Word or Publisher, unfortunately, do not provide the addition of bleed settings to the artboard itself.
To adjust for this, create your file size 1/4 inch larger than the desired finished print size. For example:
1. An 8.5x11 flyer will need designed at 8.75x11.25.
2. All important artwork should then be 1/2 inch from the edge to make up for bleed and margin.
• 1/8 inch will be cut off on each side for bleed.
• 3/8 inch is for margin (safe area).
*If you’re unable to change the size, that's okay! Just be sure to push any important text or artwork inward far enough so we can adjust for bleeds on our end.
Your document page size should be set to match the finished print size with the exception of bleeds.
A common misconception of the standard sizes of paper (5.5x8.5, 8.5x11, 11x17) is that they do not scale 50% of each other regardless that they're half the size when folded.
For example, a handbook that's set up at 8.5x11
will not scale proportionately to print as a
5.5x8.5 booklet. Likewise, a 8.5x11 flyer is not
comparable to an 11x17 poster.
The picture on the left represents the original
8.5x11 size of a flyer or handbook page. The
picture on the right shows what they would look
like after having to stretch the artwork to fit the
finished print size of 5.5x8.5 or 11x17.
*If the document size does not match the desired finished print size, the artwork will be distorted unless given further instructions to recreate internally.
Another issue we run into is receiving imposed files such as multiple up on a page or booklet spreads. Imposition refers to the process of arranging pages on a press sheet, in order to obtain faster printing, simplify binding and reduce paper waste. Conveniently, we have programs that allow
for appropriate impositions. To clarify the process of imposition here are a couple examples:
MULTIPLE UP ON A PRESS SHEET
A flyer, depending on the details of the project, can be imposed in many ways.
8-PAGE BOOKLET SPREAD
The single pages of a book are automatically arranged so that after printed, folded and trimmed,
the pages will appear in their respective order. See how page 2 and 3 are NOT printed on the same
sheet of paper. Yet, once it's bound together, the pages will then be adjacent once again.
*NOTE: SADDLE STITCHED BOOKLETS MUST BE DIVISIBLE BY FOUR
There's a lot of variables that go into deciding how a project is printed, so to save time and confusion, it's best to send finished size, single page documents and we'll take care of the rest!!
RGB colors are strictly used to generate images on a computer screen or a digital camera. This is the default setting for many software programs, but is not suitable for printing purposes. Therefore, all artwork and images should be converted and/or designed in CMYK color mode or with spot colors.
*Please note that RGB colors seen on a computer screen are not an accurate representation of the color on printed paper.
Used in both digital and offset printing, 4-color process printing combines percentages of four colors (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) to produce a complete printed image. This is the standard printing process you find in all full color printed materials.
Colored artwork or images are broken down into four separate layers (CMYK). The four colors are printed on top of one another using tiny dots to reproduce the colored image onto the page.
*For projects designed in full color, we suggest to convert all RGB and Pantone spot colors to CMYK color mode.
Spot Colors / PMS (Pantone Matching System)
Spot colors are simply colored inks (similar to house paint). They are utilized when a specific color needs to be met. They are known for their precision and consistency in reproducing color. Instead of artwork being printed with the four layers of CMYK, it only uses one layer of ink to produce the appropriate color.
Spot colors are referred to as Pantone or PMS colors. PMS (Pantone Matching System) is a color
system based upon over one thousand standardized inks which are specified by a number. When selecting a specific Pantone color we recommend using our Pantone books as colors may vary from
one book to another.
Spot colors can only be reproduced on an offset printer. When printed digitally, your project prints as a 4-color process. If you're looking to match a Pantone color for a certain element in your design, we will make every effort to match that color as close as possible using CMYK values.
Black vs. Rich Black
Believe it or not there are two types of black:
Standard black (made up of black ink only) and Rich Black (made up of all CMYK colors)
The two might look the same on your screen, but they won’t on paper. Since rich black contains all colors it will result in a deeper/darker black. Be sure to check the values for each color in all your blacks for consistency.
On a black and white digital printer it’s easy to convert color objects to grayscale images.
(Because it only prints black ink!) However, it’s not that easy with offset printing. When designing with black or grayscale elements be sure that:
1. Any black/white images are converted to grayscale color mode (not CMYK or RGB gray).
2. Any black or gray objects consists of black only (not CMYK black).
3. Any black or gray text consists of black only (not CMYK black).
Due to fine lines, it’s difficult to keep registration.