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Basic File Set Up!

Bleeds Die Lines File Set up

Today we are going to tackle file set up! There isn’t a one-size-fits-all for setting up your file for print.  There are always exceptions to the rules, but we will address the basic and most common guidelines.

Color Mode:

In the past all print files needed be set up in CMYK, but now with digital printers adding more color options such as light magenta, light cyan, light blacks and various other color inks, RGB is now becoming an acceptable file format for print. Making your file in CMYK is going to give you more predictable results with the final print product.  Colors will likely match what you see on screen (there will always be a variance between the screen and paper). RGB will give you a wide variance of colors to work with, but can result in some color shifts happening during the print, or colors not as bright as expected. For example, the bright neon green color on your screen is not going to be as bright and glowing when printed, but on the other hand, your rich, saturated red will come out nice and vibrant.

If you are designing for screen printing, be sure to use RGB, especially if you are doing full color graphics. RGB will enable you to get better color contrasts and variations in your gradients since you will have a wider color gamut. Screen printing uses different pigments for inks - not just CMYK - so a wider color gamut is achievable.

In the end, we can print either RGB or CMYK files,  these are just things to keep that in mind.

Bleeds and safe areas:

For most print jobs there is going to be some sort of cutting involved, whether it be a complicated die cut or just cut down business cards. While machines are doing all the cutting, they aren’t always perfect.  This is where bleeds come in handy. Bleeds are the area of your background colors or images are extend past the cut size of your finished piece. By creating a bleed, you are ensuring that if the cutter is a slight bit off you won’t see a white edge peeking out. For almost all products an ⅛” bleed all around is plenty to ensure your cards or stickers end up looking great and you won’t have a pesky white line on the front of your all black business cards. On the flip side, you also want to keep all important images and text inside a safe zone in your design. Generally, this is at least ⅛” away from the finished edge of your design. This will prevent any words or letters from being lost in the cutting process.

If you are designing a banner, you will want to keep your text at least 1.5” away from the edge, due to hemming and grommetting. You don’t want a grommet to be placed right in the middle of your words. 



Once you are happy with your design, you are certain everything is correctly spelled and in the right place and the right size, you will want to convert your font to outlines (Illustrator) or rasterize your text (Photoshop). Performing either of these steps will take your font and turn the letters into shapes instead of editable type. This ensures that when you send a file to us, we won’t have to contact you because we don’t have the font that you use and delay getting you your order, or worst case scenario, we can’t tell that your terrific font selections have been converted to a basic system font by default and the job is sent to print.   

Converting text is an easy process

First, save a copy of your file with the fonts still intact just in case you need to edit something later.

Next, on the final version that you plan to send to us, highlight all of your text, go to Type>Create Outlines (Illustrator)

or select your type layers, right click and select Rasterize Type (Photoshop).


There you have it! Just follow these basics and your job should turn out looking great every time!




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