Supplying artwork

We hope the following advice will help ensure your artwork is printed correctly and as expected so that you do not have any unpleasant surprises when you collect the finished job. There are a number of things to be considered in order to produce print-ready artwork and these are outlined in the following paragraphs.

We usually cut large format work down by hand so the following will probably not apply to anything larger than A3. However for anything A3 size or smaller, please read on.

If you would like your finished work to have any ink coverage right up to the edge of the page, it will need to be printed onto paper or card larger than the finished size and then cut down to size on the guillotine afterwards. It would be almost impossible to cut through a stack of paper and be so accurate as to hit every sheet exactly on the print edge without leaving any white edges. Because of this you will need to include bleed and, if possible, crop marks on your artwork.

Bleed basically means extending the printed area by a small amount (usually 3mm on each side) so that we can cut into this without danger of leaving any of the white edges mentioned above. For example, if you would like us to print a business card with a finished size of 85mm x 55mm and a solid red background, we would need the artwork to be supplied with a solid red area of 91mm x 61mm. The 3mm bleed would then be lost when cut down leaving the finished cards at the desired size of 85mm x 55mm. It may seem rather stupid but the bleed area is essentially added in order to be removed. Therefore, any important content or text should be kept well away from the bleed area.

If your software allows, you should always include crop marks where bleed is required. Crop marks are small lines that indicate where the page ends and the bleed begins. On the guillotine, the crop mark is where the cut will be made to ensure the finished prints are the correct size. When adding crop marks you must make sure they are placed away from the edge of the finished page size so that there is no chance of them being seen on the prints once cut down. This is called ‘offset’ and we would usually suggest setting this amount to 3mm so that they do not enter the bleed area.

If you need any help with setting up your artwork to include bleed and crop marks, please do not hesitate to get in touch. If you are unable to supply artwork with bleed and crop marks, we will always be more than happy to amend your artwork to include them whenever possible for a small artwork charge.

For reasons of aesthetics, we would always suggest making sure text is kept a reasonable distance away from the finished page edge. Also, there is always a certain amount of movement from one sheet to the next involved in printing, especially when printing digitally. We would therefore suggest setting this distance (known as margins) as no less than 5mm wherever possible. The general rule is that as the print size increases, so should the margin size. For example, a 5mm margin would look fine on a business card but would make the text look very close to the page edge on an A0 size poster.

Ratios It may not always be convenient to set artwork up at the size it is to be printed. For example, you may prefer to supply artwork for an A0 poster as an A4 document. This is no problem at all as we can usually scale supplied artwork up or down by any percentage required. The important thing to remember is that the supplied artwork needs to have the same width to height ratio as the required print size. If using standard ‘A’ sizes this will be fine as all A sizes have the same width to height ratios. If using non-standard sizes, you can easily work out the width-height ratio bysimply dividing the width by the height. For example, if you would like us to print a banner 1200mm wide x 400mm high, you could supply your artwork at 300mm wide x 100mm high as the width-height ratio for both is 3:1.

If you do supply artwork with a different width-height ratio to the print size you require, it will usually result in the final print having white borders at either the top and bottom or left and right edges. If this is not acceptable, we will usually be able to adjust your artwork to fit the required size better for a small additional artwork charge.

It is important to remember that the colours you see on your computer screen when creating artwork are not an exact representation of the colours you can expect too see when printed.

Each monitor will display colour differently to the next and not all printing methods will give the same result. When viewed on a screen, colours are represented by thousands of red, green and blue lights. When they are all fully on, you see white and when they are all off, you see black. This is referred to as the RGB spectrum.

When colours are printed, they are usually made up of percentages of cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink. This is referred to as the CMYK colour model. Before supplying artwork for print, you should convert all colours from RGB to CMYK where possible, to avoid any unpleasant surprises when you collect the finished items. If your artwork contains large solid areas of black, adding cyan, magenta and yellow to the black will give a much darker, deeper black. This is known as ‘rich black’ and we would advise using the following breakdown: C:60, M:40, Y:40, K:100.

You can never be totally sure of how a colour will look when printed so requesting to see a physical proof of your job is always a good idea if time permits.

You should always make sure that any fonts you have used to create your artwork are either supplied or embedded. The easiest way to do this is by saving your artwork in PDF format. There will be different options for font handling depending on the software you are using but you should look out for anything that mentions font embedding and make sure you have that option turned on. If you supply artwork without either embedding the fonts or supplying the fonts to us, the printed job will probably not look how you expected it to as any text created using the missing fonts will be rendered using substituted fonts.

Digital images can be either be vector or raster graphics. Vector means that the graphic is made up of lines and curves which can be enlarged to any size without losing any quality. Logos are often created as vector graphics as whether printing the logo small scale on a business card or huge onto the side of a bus, the same file could be used. Raster means that the graphic is made up of small squares or pixels which become more visible as the image is enlarged, resulting in a lack of quality. Digital photographs are saved as raster images and the better the quality of the image, the more pixels per inch (ppi) it will have. This is known as the image’s resolution and the higher the resolution, the more it can be enlarged without a noticeable lack of quality.

In order that your artwork looks sharp and of high quality when printed we recommend using vector graphics wherever possible or, if raster images are used, observing the following guidelines.Industry advice usually recommends images have a resolution of 300 ppi for printing and this should be adhered to for artwork up to A4 size. The larger the print however, the further it is generally viewed from so this means lower resolution artwork can be acceptable. Also, an A0 poster for example, with a resolution of 300 ppi would have a very large file size which could hinder the printing process. A general rule of thumb is that if artwork has a resolution of 300 ppi at A4 size, it can be enlarged to any size without noticing too much degradation in quality. Therefore, starting with an A4 at 300 ppi, A3 artwork could be supplied at around 213 ppi, A2 at 150 ppi, A1 at 105 ppi, A0 at 75 ppi and so on.

If you have no choice but to supply artwork with too low a resolution, there are steps that can be taken such as blurring to get the best results possible and we would be happy to carry out this work if required for a small additional artwork charge.

We usually recommend that artwork is supplied as a high resolution print-ready PDF file. Using the PDF or Portable Document Format to save your artwork is the safest way to ensure that your work will be printed as expected with no unpleasant surprises. The only time we would rather receive ‘native’ files ie those supplied in the same format they were created in would be for Adobe Indesign files that you would like us to make changes to. In this case, you would need to supply packaged artwork containing all fonts and images used. If you supply Microsoft Word or Powerpoint files, there is a danger that missing fonts may be substituted as mentioned above and the layout may also change depending on the version of the software and settings. This is why we would always strongly advise saving your work as pdf files and supplying those to us rather than the original Microsoft files.

When supplying artwork for printing booklets, the number of pages needs to be divisible by 4. This is because each sheet of paper making up the booklet has 2 sides and is then folded to give 4 pages. Think of a birthday card as a 4 page booklet – 2 birthday cards, one inside the other would be an 8 page booklet, 3 birthday cards, one inside the other would be a 12 page booklet and so on. If your page total is not divisible by 4, blank pages will need to be added where appropriate to remedy this.

Your software may allow you to produce booklet artwork as either reader’s spreads or printer’s spreads. Readers spreads is when booklet artwork is displayed in the order it will be read once printed ie. Page 2 on the left and page 3 on the right. When printed, this is not the order in which the pages should be placed, instead, page 2 would be on the left with the inside back page on the right of the sheet. This is known as a printer’s spread. This can be clearly seen by separating the pages of a newspaper.

We always ask that booklet artwork is supplied not as reader’s spreads or printer’s spreads but as single pages. This means we are able to fine tune the positions of the pages on the sheet if required. For example, if a booklet contains a large number of pages, the thickness of all the sheets effects the alignment of the pages of the finished book. The space between the pages can be adjusted to counteract this and this is what is known as ‘creep’. For this reason it is also best to make sure each single page is supplied with 3mm bleed on all sides and crop marks as mentioned above.

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