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Print Artwork GuideUpdated 8 months ago


File Set Up

A properly formatted document is the first of several essential steps in creating a design that is ready to go straight to print! While you're preparing your artwork for submission, there are a couple of important considerations to keep in mind:

Document Size

Creating your document in scale to the product you're ordering is possibly the most critical step for setting yourself up for success. If your design will be extending beyond the trim size, make sure to include a "bleed" to make sure that none of the bare cardstock will be visible when it's been cropped.

Color Mode & Profile

Most design applications allow for you to work in two possible Color Modes: RGB and CMYK, each with its own intended uses. RGB is intended for creating color on light-based digital displays (ie. for web design), whereas CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) represents the core four colors used in physical print. Their color gamuts are not equal (with RBG being much larger), so to ensure the closest match between the colors used in your file and what we print, we require files to be in CMYK Color Mode. 

  • Set Color Mode to CMYK: Navigate to File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color.
  • Set Color Profile To GRACoL 2006: Navigate to Edit > Color Settings (Ctrl + Shift + K) then select Uncoated GRACoL 2006 from the Working Spaces > CMYK option.

Specialty Inks

If you would like to use Specialty Ink in your project, we require vector artwork in labeled color swatches of specific CMYK values.

  • Create Specialty Ink Swatches: Navigate to Window > Swatches to open the swatch panel, then click the + icon to create a new swatch, set the Color Type to "Spot Color", then populate the name and CMYK values based on the table below
Swatch NameCMYK Value
White InkC: 0 M:100 Y:0 K:0

We are currently working on providing you more specialty ink options.

Artwork Guidelines

The most effective way to set your project up for the most beautiful results is to consciously design with the following recommended guidelines in mind:

Bleeds

As previously explained, bleeds are crucial to proper file setup. Bleeds allow for the extension of all-over designs so no unprinted cardstock edges are visible when your print has been trimmed to its final dimensions. 

Safety

All important text (names, dates, addresses, etc.)  and central artwork elements should be kept well within these margins. We use this to ensure that none of your essential information is removed during the trimming process. 

Fonts

When designing, you should be using legible and appropriate fonts, and paying attention to your kerning. Keep in mind, while you may feel your fonts are legible on-screen, this can completely contradict how your text finally appears when printed. When you're ready to save, create vector outlines of any of your used fonts to guarantee that we are receiving your designs as they appear to you. (Pro tip: try to avoid starting and abandoning live text while you're designing, as this leaves active fonts in your files, even if you can't see them.) 

If you're using Adobe Illustrator, fonts can be converted to vector outlines by selecting the text and choosing Type > Create Outlines in the menu bar.

Strokes

Best practice is to be cautious of the thickness of lines or strokes that you're utilizing in your design, as especially thin lines can result in a lower-quality reproduction.

Raster Images

When selecting raster images to incorporate into your designs for print, we strongly recommend using JPEGs over PNGs, based on their color mode. PNG file formats are created using the RGB color model, whereas JPEGs are natively in CMYK color mode.

For stellar prints, you should be using the highest-resolution images possible. Scaling impacts the quality of raster images, so working with a greater initial number of pixels will set you up for a headache-free and less restricted design process, and also create the clearest results!

To Check Your Image Specs: Navigate to Window > Document Info, and change your selection to "Embedded Images". When selecting these types of images in your design, this panel will provide essential information about your dimensions and resolution!

It's also important to note, any sourced stock photos or illustrations you're planning on using for your project should be properly licensed.

File Preparation

Once you've created your overall design and layout, and are ready to save, we have a couple of essential steps and checks to ensure your file is ready for production:

Embed Images

To prevent any issues with file transfer or printing errors, you should embed any linked images in your file. This way, any images you have intentionally included will be delivered to our Production Artists when they are preparing your order for print!

Outline Text

Convert all active fonts and unexpanded strokes to make sure we're receiving your files as you have designed them. While there's a chance we may have your font in our Library, this is not guaranteed, and converting your text to vector outlines is the best way to avoid possible delays or print errors. 

Hide Template Guides and Crop Marks

Right before saving, please hide any of the template guides or rulers used to position your design on your artboards. You don't have to add crop or printer's marks to your file, as our Production Artists will add these as necessary while preparing your artwork file for print!

Save Your File For Print

For the easiest file preparation process, please save each of the designs in your order as a separate file. Double-sided designs can be saved as a single file .pdf with two pages.  To save artwork in a print-ready format:

  • Save As PDF/X-4:2008: Navigate to File > Save As and set "Save As Type:" to "Adobe PDF" then in the Save Adobe PDF dialog box change "Adobe PDF Preset" to "PDF/X-4:2008" then click "Save PDF"

Using the tips, steps and considerations in this guide will prepare you to create a production-ready design for the highest-quality print results with the fastest timelines. 

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