Preparing Your Artwork - what you need to know
The following is a brief explanation of the basics needed to get your designed artwork to a level where it can be printed without fear of things not turning out as expected. The end product can only be as good as the artwork supplied. If you are supplying your artwork you should find this helpfull.
• A PDF file is usually the most suitable, but we can work from JPG, PNG, TIFF, WORD.doc and OFFICE.odt files.
• All artwork should be supplied in CMYK colour space. RGB can be used for short digital print runs but for most print material the colour gamuts will be converted and this will affect the trueness of the colours.
Confused about the difference between RGB and CMYK and what it will mean for your print job?
• All elements of your file should have a minimum resolution of 300dpi.
Ideally, fonts should be embedded. (Disclaimer: Lawfully, we advise you check your end-user license agreement to ensure you are permitted to embed fonts).
• If you have images that are going to bleed off the edge of the paper then you need your artwork to contain an extra 3mm of area around ALL edges. Additionally, no text or image elements should be within 4mm of the cut edge
Images and vector files
All images should be a minimum of 300dpi and should not be scaled up in your artwork by more than 125%. Images taken from the internet will NOT be good enough quality for professional printing as the typical resolution used on the web is 72dpi.
The exception is when ordering large printed products for outdoor use such as banners and signs. Anything larger than A2 size can be sent at 50% size or at a reduced resolution of 150dpi.
Generally Logos and illustrations which are not vector based, should adhere to these rules.
Vector artwork can be scaled as required.
Take care with any compression of images, keep this to a minimum to avoid the printed image appearing degraded when printed.
We recommend that all images, logos and illustrations are converted to CMYK prior to creating the PDF file to avoid unexpected results. Certain colours which may look bright on screen in the RGB colour gamut will simply never print with the same vibrancy when converted to CMYK, this applies particularly to neons, deep blues and bright reds. Digital cameras use RGB colour space and therefore we recommend images are converted to CMYK in photoshop or an equivalent programme with the capability to retouch and enhance the colours if required.
Ensure that all vector files also use the CMYK colour space and do NOT include spot colours or low resolution images. If you have referenced colour swatches such as Pantone, ensure these colours are converted to CMYK in your document.
The document's bleed area is an additional area outside the page size, necessary to ensure even printing of elements that are required to bleed off the edge of your page. This bleed area will be trimmed off the job but it allows for the blade bends of 1-1.5mm on the guillotine when a stack of paper is trimmed. Adding the required bleed to your job will prevent your trimmed page having white borders.
Page 'safe' area: In order to ensure text and important information is not trimmed off your job, we recommend that you do not place items within 4mm of the trimmed edge unless you need them to bleed off.
Document sizes and formatting
There are two ways you can set your document page size: Either set it to reflect the trimmed size of your job, in which case you should specify bleed as 3mm on all edges when creating your pdf and this will then be included on your pdf file automatically. If you are a seasoned or professional designer following this method then obviously you should also set the pdf file to include crop marks.
However, we work frequently from files that have been created with the bleed included in which case crop marks are not necessary as the job will automatically be trimmed to standard print ordered size.
Eg: an A4 document without crop marks but requiring bleed must be supplied at a size of 216 x 303 (3mm bleed all round) - it will automatically be trimmed to 210 x 297
NOTE: If there is NO bleed on your work ie. white paper is all that will be seen within 5mm of every page edge, then just provide a document that is the correct finished page size.
Booklets and multi-page documents
Please send as a continuous multi-page file with all pages in order, DON'T try to impose the page order using print or design spreads such as are supplied with Microsoft Office and other desk-top publishing programmes.
Folded single sheet leaflets
When it is clear that only one folded sheet is required then you CAN impose the individual sides yourself. Eg: an A4 leaflet folded in half to form 4 sides of A5 should be laid out as a double-sided A4 sheet with the A5 sides in correct imposition order.
Common page sizes
A3 297 x 420mm
A4 210 x 297mm
A5 148 x 210mm
A6 105 x 148mm
Creating a PDF file
As well as the above measurement specifications there are one or two other important points in order to get the best result.
If your authoring application allows you to preflight your document prior to conversion to pdf format, we recommend you use this facility as it will highlight all the specifics. If you don't have this feature then most applications will make a reasonable quality PDF straight off the bat as long as your source file mets all the specifications listed above.
When creating your print quality PDF file you must ensure that you use print quality settings, by default the Acrobat PDF Maker in Microsoft Office creates PDF files using standard settings, at the time of writing these do NOT meet the requirements for professional printing. If you are using a PC and do not have a PDF convertor you can download and install PrimoPDF for free.
The industry print standard for a PDF file that you should make is PDF/X