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Bleed

Bleeds refer to print that extend past the edge of a page. To accommodate a bleed, we must print the bleed area larger than the final trim size. The printed image extending beyond the bleed area is then trimmed off so that the printed area extends to the edge of the sheet. Jobs with bleed sometimes require more paper and therefore can sometimes incur additional cost – but not in most cases. 

The standard bleed area is .125 inches or 1/8th of an inch. Adobe software will make it easy to adjust this area.

Layout

The layout of your project can impact your job in many, sometimes hard to foresee, ways. How much paper will be used? How long will it take to run the job? Are there design elements that need to be considered when the job is finished? These layout decisions can both change the price of your job and especially alter the time in which you receive it if a job has certain design elements that can be challenging (Friday afternoon comes fast if you are ordering a brochure with solid dark blue coverage on an uncoated paper on Wednesday afternoon).

When creating things like a book it is good to know how the pages will layout. Something to keep in mind when sending these types of files is that it is better send the file with each page on its own art-board, not in spreads. It may be easier to read thru on the computer but when working on the file it will be easier for printers to work with your file as individual pages.

It is always beast to reach out to your printer early in a project if you have any questions about layout and design considerations, the more we know going into a project, the better we can prepare you for how those decisions will affect your cost and turnaround time for your project. 

Size 

This one is very easily overlooked, especially if you are new to designing for print. If you are creating a business card, let’s say, the final dimensions for a standard card are 3.5″ x 2″. Microsoft Word defaults to 8.5″ x 11″ which would create the wrong size image for the desired outcome. Keep your artwork area within the final dimensions that the job requires, it will create less headache later (and if you are designing for print, we highly recommend having a quality design suite of software like Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.).

Resolution

For offset and digital print, we recommend 300 dpi images minimum. This will give the best outcome, especially when using photos as images. These “dots per inch” refer to the ink dots per inch of paper, just as pixels are to a screen resolution. For large format prints that will be viewed at a distance, we recommend minimum 150 DPI images. When we refer to resolution – we are referring to the native resolution of the image. If you have a very small 72 dpi image that you captured from your company website, then take that image into Photoshop and blow it up 600% and change the resolution to 600 dpi, you are just going to have a very large file that looks as bad as the original. There are some tools out there for improving the resolution for poor images, but for the most part, just increasing the resolution in Photoshop will not improve the image quality in your final print. This can be challenging, but investing in or creating hi resolution photos will really help with a finished job you will be proud of. Also watch out for placing images into word processing software such as Microsoft Word, this will often reduce the quality of your image. 

File Formats

Print ready PDF files are by far the most common for print today. This option will cause the least amount of issues when sending to the shop. The default Adobe settings for high quality print usually work pretty well, but there are exceptions. If you are unsure about your file prep, the best-case scenario is send us everything. If we have problems with your print ready PDF file, it is helpful to have the native supporting files including any linked images or artwork and fonts. This is usually not necessary but in some cases it can be, especially if we need to make any corrections or alterations to your art. If unsure, send us everything, and a print ready PDF for reference. And as always, if you have any hesitation, ask us early – we are happy to evaluate your files ahead of time, even if you are still finishing edits, to make sure your job will go through the shop smoothly. 

Color

The topic of color theory is basically a master’s degree. So, without taking up too much time (and no tuition), we will try to give the quick run-down. These are more like color tips but if you want a more advanced color theory, let us know and we will write about it! 

  • Pure violets, greens and oranges are very difficult to match using four-color process printing. To achieve vibrant colors, a fifth spot color or 6-color high-fidelity printing can be used.
  • Fluorescent and metallic colors cannot be achieved by using four-color process printing. A spot color is necessary for printing the fluorescent and metallic colors.
  • For a rich black, use a mixture of 40%C, 30%M, 30%Y, & 100%K instead of just 100% black. The combination of these colors will create a black with a darker appearance.
  • Only 50% of the PANTONE colors can be very closely simulated using four-color process printing, but nearly 90% can be simulated with the use of high-fidelity printing.
  • Pantone colors in desktop software are not always the same. Always check the built-in percentages.
  • Use the prebuilt colors in your software’s swatch books rather than creating custom colors using your color sliders or by using your eyedropper tool on an image (more to come on this topic in the future)
  • Never trust the color on the monitor. It is always best to use the color values and percentages.
  • Banding can occur in gradient blends (vignettes). Banding is the visible lines between the color changes in the gradient. To help eliminate banding, limit the change in a color to no more than 75% from end to end. For example, instead of going from 0% cyan to 100% cyan, start at 10% and end at 80%. If you are using Photoshop to create the gradient, try adding a pixel or two of noise from the noise filter

https://voomgroup.com/six-print-ready-basics/