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Full Color Printing Design File Preparation Checklist

Printing Experts:

This entire section of our web site is being designed so you can learn about the printing process and how your orders are produced from start to finish. Use this section as source of reference, if you have any artwork issues or concerns you can always come back and learn about the many tips and tricks that we have encountered in our 34 years of experience. Articles will be updated as new advice is available.

Three Points to Remember

Those of you who need few quick answers to the three most common printing issues please read below. We receive hundreds of files every month,now and then we will receive a file which is of low quality simply because of the way it was designed. Clear & true to color printing can only be guaranteed when file properties are accurate.

1) Creating your artwork with bleeds - include 1/8th (.125) of an inch on every side

Anytime you see a printed image which extends from end to end on postcards, brochures, etc, it has been created with a bleed. A bleed is basically an extension of the image which will be cut off.
The image to the right is one of our own postcards. When printed, it is actually cut to a 11 x 6" size. However, the file size is really 11.250 x 6.250". The extra 1/8 inch (.125) per side, is needed so our bindery department can trim the excess and leave a clean centered image without a border. Be sure to create your artwork at least an 1/8 inch (.125) larger per side, than the actual printed size for the best quality. Crops and Bleed Marks

2) RGB & CMYK Color Pallet Explained - The english version

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood truths when printing in color. The 2 acronyms above refer to the color palette which is used in graphic design. By default, most art programs will use the RGB color palette because many photos and web graphics will be using this standard palette. When setting up your files for printing however, you must convert the color palette from RGB to CMYK as all commercial printing presses use 4 base colors referred to as CMYK printing.
When you request printing in 4 colors, the different hues and shades of color are all derived from a combination of 4 base colors, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black. Many printers will simply convert the color pallet for you before they print your order. Unfortunately, when you convert the color pallet to CMYK sometimes the color looks different than what you see on your monitor. This is the cause of all the horror stories you hear about when customers complain "My brochure doesn't look the way I wanted it to". The safest way to achieve color printing accuracy is to create your artwork using the CMYK pallet from the start. Doing this will give you a better idea of how your colors will look when printed. (Example Below)

RGB & CMYK Color PaletteImportant: Most printing companies will convert your graphics to CMYK in order to print. However if you convert your image yourself you will have a better representation of how the finished product will look.

If you do not convert the files to CMYK yourself, you run the risk of your job looking different than expected because the conversion was not made. Supplying files in CMYK format is the responsibility of the graphic designer

3) Printing in high resolution and understanding D.P.I. -

Lets be clear on thisDPI is the measurement used within the printing and graphics design industry to determine how sharp an image is. Web graphics, online pics, etc. are normally created at 72dpi (dots per inch), this low resolution is great for the web because the images look excellent on a computer monitor and the file sizes are very small. When designing graphics for printing purposes, your images should be 300dpi or better. Essentially what this is doing is displaying more information (or dots) for every square inch of the image you are viewing. The more dots used, the sharper the image, it's really that simple. Color printing will look blurry if a 72dpi artwork is used, make sure you have your images at 300dpi before you submit your files