How to prepare Artwork for Print
1. Program and file type
We recommend using Adobe Illustrator or InDesign to finalise your artwork.
Export as PDF, or vector (.ai .eps) if it may need resizing.
2. Colour (RGB vs CMYK)
Remember that colours look different on screen compared with when printed. As well as this, different screens can show differences.
When you prepare artwork for printing, always use CMYK.
Resolution is measured in DPI (dots per inch). DPI is the number of dots, or pixels, that would fit into an inch if the image was printed unscaled. The higher the DPI number, the higher the resolution. In general, 300DPI is the minimum you’d need but with large format printing likely to be viewed from a distance, 150DPI should be fine.
4. Bleed and Trim
Add a bleed. Adding a bleed is essential for any method of printing and most printing requires a 2mm to 4mm bleed but some pieces, either particularly large or with folds may require much larger bleeds, you can discuss this with your printer.
In the printing process, the artwork is printed onto a larger paper stock than the finished piece, then cutting machines will trim the printed image to your specifications. If you haven’t left a bleed this cutting will leave a noticeable white line and look unprofessional.
The trim box will tell the printers where your artwork needs to be cut to. This will be smaller than the bleed area and the same size as the final print measurements. It’s wise to have all important visuals or information within a safe area, roughly 4mm smaller than the trim box on each side.
With less simple printing, such as packaging or banners, you may be more comfortable with a template for you to add your artwork into. Your printer can provide this.
5. Embed all fonts or convert to vector paths.
This ensures any fonts you have used which may be on your machine but not your printers won’t revert to a default and ruin the look of our artwork.
Printers will usually send back a digital proof for you to check, to ensure that your file hasn’t been changed by the systems we use.
If you are doing a very long print run, a very large piece of work or it’s just extremely important, print proofs can be supplied so you can see a sample of the work in the flesh. Going back to the RGB vs CMYK point earlier, you will notice the colours don’t look right at all when printed if you have supplied an image in RGB.
For more advice on preparing artwork for print, you can contact an expert printer like Inspired Print Solutions.