Good Graphic Design does not just depend on creative visual communications, fancy software and computer skills. A professional designer must be proficient in the technical processes that regulate printing. It is only with a combination of all of the above that good design becomes excellent printing…
We understand however that some of our clients may not feel the need to engage with a professional graphic designer to prepare their publications. In order to avoid some common problems when preparing artwork for printing, we are including below some useful tips on preparing artwork for printing:
BLEED & CROP MARKS
If your artwork runs to the edge of a page it will need a bleed. This means the artwork will need to run over the edge of the paper (usually around 3-5mm). When the artwork is printed, it’s printed on a larger oversized sheet then trimmed down to the right size. If you don’t allow for a bleed your artwork might end up not running to edge of the page and have a white gap on the edge of the publication. Include crop marks when you save you file, this will show the printers where your bleed is and where they should trim the document.
READ MORE ABOUT BLEED AND CROP MARKS
Printers use CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) inks on paper/card, whereas on screen we use RGB (Red, Green, Blue) light beams to represent colour. You need to ensure your document is set up in CMYK, otherwise your print could come back not how you expected. When you convert your image from RGB to CMYK it may appear duller, you may have to brighten up the colours to compensate.
READ MORE ABOUT CMYK COLOUR
CONVERT FONTS TO OUTLINES
It’s important that when you send a document to print you convert the fonts to outlines. This basically means that rather that the type being an editable font, you change it into a shape layer. This will stop any font issues occurring at the printer’s side. In Adobe Illustrator it’s as simple as selecting all your type and then clicking Type > Create Outlines. If your software does not offer the option to outline fonts, you need to ensure you forward the font files used in your artwork to the printer. Another good alternative is to fonts such as Google Fonts that can be freely downloaded by the printers.
READ MORE ABOUT FONTS
On screen we view images at around 72dpi, however printing requires a much larger resolution, usually about 300dpi for full lithographic printing. This means you can’t use low resolution images as they will appear pixelated, you will need a larger image file. You can check the image resolution in Photoshop by selecting Image>Image Size.
READ MORE ABOUT IMAGE RESOLUTION
SUPPLY YOUR FILE AS A PDF
You can create a PDF file from most programs now, and it’s easiest file for the printers to use. When saving your PDF you can select to include crop marks and a bleed. If you are designing a brochure, supply the PDF as separate pages, your printers will pair-up the pages of your publication using their imposition software.