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Variable Print SetupUpdated 8 months ago

Step 1 - Available Templates 

Before ordering, we recommend taking a look at our website for all of the instructional and preparatory resources we have available for download. On Artisaire Studio, we have downloadable templates for all of our Digital Print products which are eligible for variable print options. These templates can be downloaded in PDF format or Adobe Illustrator file format (.AI), which is our preferred vector-based graphics program of choice. These are made in CMYK colour mode and include a viewable layer for visualizing the crop and bleed, basic instructions for file preparation, and a variable print layer, which can be expanded to as many are needed for your order. 

For ordering Variable Print, we also recommend reading our general instructional guide on How to Prepare Files for Digital Print, which is available here and has more tips on linework thickness recommendations and required text sizes to ensure successful printing! 

Import your template by selecting File > Open and selecting the file, or by directly dragging and dropping the file into your Adobe Illustrator window. 

Step 2 - Placing Your Static Artwork

Our Print Templates measure 1/4" greater in height and width than the shape and size of the selected product, creating a 1/8" bleed around each side(viewable on Layer 2 of the template, indicated by a transparent grey fill),  for designs which carry outside the red trim line of the card edge. This would mean that an A7 (5" by 7") card would be placed on a 5.25" by 7.25" template. We recommend using our prepared templates, as they come with a brief set of instructions as well as previewable production boundaries, however, using an original layout is fine if you're conscious of the required dimensions and their impact on the ultimate scaling and cropping of your design. Per standard practice, we prefer variable data layers organized above fixed artwork. 

Once you've opened the correct Variable Data Print Template in your graphics software, you should immediately be able to view a set of directions on Layer 3. After reading, you can hide Layer 2 and 3 (these layers, as well as the Variable Print layer should initially be locked). Place the background design elements of your product which will remain the same for all versions (fixed artwork) on Layer 1 and view Layer 2 to check your scale and positioning. 

If your design involves no static artwork elements, feel free to leave Layer 1 blank or delete this layer. These templates also include a layer for specialty colors (titled "Spot"), but this can also be left blank or deleted if strictly digital CMYK printing is ordered. 

Step 3 - Placing Variable Artwork

When you're satisfied with the layout of your static artwork, begin assigning the design elements of your alternate prints on respective, numbered layers (ie. Variable Print 3, Variable Print 4, etc.) Do not merge these layers; we recommend locking all layers which you are not actively preparing to prevent any accidents.

After each layer you can view Layer 2 to preview how your design will appear when cropped. 

Step 4 - Vector Outline Your Fonts

Before you've reached the export stage, it is very important to double check that any text in your design file has been converted to vector outlines (embedded, or flattened). This is one of the most essential steps in preparing your file, because unembedded fonts often cause text to appear incorrectly in graphics programs, which can affect the final appearance of your order. We also recommend not creating and abandoning live text as well, as these still register active fonts and cause delays or errors, even if they aren't visible. 

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

Step 5 - Exporting Your File

When you're in the final stages of preparing your file for export, hide (or delete) Layers 2 and 3 of your template artboard, and view Layer 1 as well as any Variable Print layers. It's fine if these overlap, as long as they are not merged. You're ready for export!

For Variable Print orders we require files to be submitted in a .PDF file format, as these types of files are capable of housing both raster and vector data you've used in your design, without compressing vectors into a raster format. Vectors will appear smooth even if you zoom all of the way into the artwork, but rasters will show visible pixels and are distorted by scaling. 

When you're exporting, make sure if you are preparing using a template with multiple artboards (for example, the front and back side of an A6 Flat Card), that you are exporting these boards to their own independent PDF files. We strongly recommend avoiding the export of multiple artboards in a single combined file to prevent any possible order delays or errors at import. 

Pre-Submission File Checklist:

Dimensions - Is the file the recommended size? If not, will this affect the scale of the artwork and how it is cropped?

Color Space - Is the file in the right print-standard color model (CMYK)? 

Layout - Has the content been placed in the correct position for printing? 

Bleed - Has the bleed been correctly utilized? Is any content in the bleed which should not be cropped?

Art Format and Resolution - Do I have any artwork which could be vectorized? Are all raster images in a resolution of at least 300ppi? 

Layers - Have all objects been assigned to their correct layers? Has all static artwork been placed on Layer 1? Has all variable artwork been assigned to a number of Variable Print Layers? Are all specialty ink objects placed on the labelled "Spot" layer (if applicable?) Are these layers unmerged?

Fonts - Have all fonts been converted to vector outlines?

Content - Does the artwork follow recommended thicknesses and size standards? Are there any spelling mistakes? 

Tips for Successful Variable Data Digital Printing

Why Not SVGs?

While SVG file formats are able to store vector data, which creates the best quality results, these files are unable to display individual layers, and instead compress all artwork onto a single layer on your artboard. For your Variable Data Digital Print orders our Production Artists require access to separate layers for putting together production files, so if these specific layers aren't available, we aren't able to process your designs final print. 

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