Artwork Guide

Fonts

It’s important when preparing your artwork that fonts are embedded or flattened, as not embedding or flattening your fonts can lead to problems reading your artwork. When a view of a document is created it is done so using the fonts installed on the computer that is viewing it. If this file is opened on another computer, fonts may be substituted with replacements which are installed, meaning the document’s formatting can be affected. If you’ve used unusual fonts in your design, this is more likely to be a problem.

Embedding your fonts

The best way to avoid font problems is to make them part of your document through embedding, flattening or converting them to outlines. You can do this via a number of methods:

  1. Saving as an image. If you save your file into a raster format such as jpeg, png, or tiff, the fonts become part of the image and font files become irrelevant. This will make those fonts harder to edit at a later date, so it is advisable to save a copy of your document before making this edit.
  2. Embedding. This can be dependent on your font’s licensing restrictions, but most software packages will embed fonts into PDF files by default. Otherwise, you should double check that you have ticked the relevant options for your software package. This ensures that the fonts are packaged into the document and can be opened on another computer accurately.
  3. Converting to Outlines. In many design software packages, the option exists to convert your fonts from using their font files into pure vectors, and will always ensure that your fonts remain as you intend. It does make the fonts more difficult to edit at a later date.

Do always thoroughly check over your artwork before uploading it to ensure your fonts have been embedded and will appear as intended. While our team will notify you if we find any problems with your fonts, the more effective way to be sure is to carry out one of the three options above.

Bleed

Bleed is one of the most important elements in making your artwork print-ready. Here we’ll explain what bleed is and why it’s necessary – and how to add it on to a design.

What Is Bleed?

On your home inkjet printer it’s rare that you’ll be able to print edge-to-edge – there will always be some ‘margin’ where the print head cannot reach the edge of the paper. On a commercial printing press that’s exactly the same, but the problem is solved by using a document’s bleed, ensuring you have stunning colour from edge-to-edge. This is achieved by printing more than you intend ever to be seen on your design, and then cutting that extra area off to leave you with your finished document size.

For example, an A6 flyer has a finished size of 105mm x 148mm. A file with 3mm of bleed will make that final file 111mm x 154mm. We will print 111mm x 15mcm of artwork, and then trim off 3mm from each edge, leaving you with your 105mm x 148mm flyer.

This means that you should not have anything in your bleed which you intend to be seen on your final design, as it will never appear.

The bleed also serves a second purpose. It’s almost impossible to ensure your design is always cut precisely aligned with how you intend – there is always around a 1-2mm margin of error. With 3mm of bleed added on (which is the industry standard) this ensures that even if your product is cut within that margin of error, no white lines or borders will have a chance of appearing on your design.

Safety

Because of this margin of error, it’s advisable that you also include an area known as a ‘safety’ margin around the edge of your document. This is part of your design that your intend to appear but that does not contain any important details or text which you wish to appear. This margin should be on the inside of your document bounds.

Therefore, on a 105mm x 148mm A6 flyer, your important details and integral visual elements should sit within a 99mm x 142mm area.

Examples of Common Mistakes
Below are some common and easy mistakes to make, as well as the best solutions for correcting them!

1. No Bleed or White Bleed
Problem – If a document has no bleed or no colour in the bleed, then printing the file will result in random white lines on edges as we cannot account for the minimum margins of error.
Solution – Simple! Extend the background into the bleed area or move text in by 3mm and expand the entire image to allow for a bleed area.

2. Text is in the Bleed and Safety
Problem – If a document has a bleed area and safe zone but there is text inside either area, that text is likely to be cut off during trimming.
Solution – Move the text inward until it’s within the perimeter of the safety. Should be a minimum of 6mm from the edge of the artwork.

3. Text is in the Safety
Problem – The document has a bleed and safety however there is text inside the safety. If printed the text in the safety could be cut.
Solution – Move text inward.

4. The Bleed is a Different Colour to the Edge of the Design
Problem – The document has a bleed but it is not a continuation of the main design, or elements of it. If printed there are likely to be random lines of the outside colour on the edges of the finished product.
Solution – Make the bleed a continuation of the background design and all its elements – for example, a red box that runs to the edge of the design should run to the edge of the bleed as well.

5. Not Enough Bleed
Problem – The design does not have enough bleed. If printed there may be random white lines around the edges of the finished product.
Solution – Either extend the background image to fill the bleed or move the text and objects on the document in by 3mm to create more bleed.

What should I do if I am unable to correct the artwork?
If you are unable to correct your document there are two options.

1. Print with a border – We would be able to print your document with a 6mm white border (or any colour you prefer). We use 6mm is to ensure even borders on each edge.
2. Have the design professionally rebuilt – a professional graphic designer would be able to create a new design for you with a correct bleed area and safe zone.
3. Pay for our Bleed Correction service – on most single-page documents we can add bleed for you for an additional charge for £10.00 +VAT. On complex or long documents there may have to be additional charges.

Table Showing Sizes and Resolutions
The table below is based on printing a portrait document at 300 dots per inch which will print at high quality. The following two pages, we have provided a size chart for both flyers and posters, which will show you the proportional difference in size based on an A4 page (standard paper 29.7cm x 21.0cm).

Size Name Size in cm (without bleed area) Size in pixels 300dpi (without bleed area) Size in cm (with bleed area) Size in pixels 300dpi (with bleed area)
Business Card 8.5 x 5.5 cm 1004 x 650 9.1 x 6.1 cm 1075 x 720
DL / Comp Slip 9.9 x 21.0 cm 1169 x 2480 10.5 x 21.6 cm 1240 x 2551
A6 14.8 x 10.5 cm 1748 x 1240 15.4 x 11.1 cm 1819 x 1311
A5 21.0 x 14.8 cm 2480 x 1748 21.6 x 15.4 cm 2551 x 1819
A4 29.7 x 21.0 cm 3508 x 2480 30.3 x 21.6 cm 3579 x 2551
A3 42.0 x 29.7 cm 4961 x 3605 42.6 x 30.3 cm 5031 x 3579
A2 59.4 x 42.0 cm 7016 x 4961 60.0 x 42.6 cm 7087 x 5031
A1 84.1 x 59.4 cm 9933 x 7016 84.7 x 60.0 cm 10004 x 7087
A0 118.9 x 84.1 cm 14043 x 9933 119.5 x 84.7 cm 14114 x 10004

Proof Checking

While we’re certain you’ll already have checked over your document carefully, it’s important to look at it from a design & print perspective as well as doing your normal proofreading. It is important to check all elements of the proof as AmbiPrint can’t be held responsible for errors that appear in the final product if your proof has been approved.

Checking Proofs
Before we can print any job it must first be approved by you. Without this stage it is impossible to ensure that the document will print as you expect. We’ve suggested important areas to look at in the list below and we recommend (if you can) that you have a friend or colleague to give it a check as well; a fresh set of eyes are often much better at spotting mistakes.

Key Areas to check:

  • Spelling (and grammar)
  • Details (Phone numbers, email addresses, dates and times)
  • Size of document (A6 is a lot smaller than A4)
  • Pictures and Logos (are they sharp enough?)

Spelling

Very often a designer will retype information supplied when creating artwork. For this reason all elements must be checked for spelling and grammar – this also includes phone numbers, email addresses and dates.

Size
Is everything on the artwork going to print the size that you’re hoping? A common mistake is to view a business card on the screen at 200% zoom; in this instance the text will be displayed much larger than the final product. It is worth viewing the proof at the final printed size to check that the text is fully legible.

Pictures and Logos
If you have supplied us with your own picture or logo it is worth checking that it will print clearly. As a typical monitor/screen displays at 72dpi (dots per inch) and commercial print is produced at 300dpi it’s advisable to zoom in to check logos and pictures. If at this level elements look distorted you may wish to supply higher resolution elements.

If you are happy for us to proceed to print based on your proof, please approve online or send us an email to confirm that we can go ahead. We are unable to transfer a job to production until we have this confirmation from you.

Colour Guide

When ordering with AmbiPrint please note that we do not check your artwork’s colour settings and our submission process automatically converts all colours to CMYK. In certain cases this can cause noticeable colour variation.

Colour Models
Understanding RGB and CMYK and the differences between them is important for working with printed documents.

RGB stands for Red, Green, Blue and these are the colours that make up visual light. As such, all of what you see on a screen is made up of a combination of red, green and blue colour values, (if you have a camera with a macro setting you can see these values literally at work). This is what is known as an additive colour model – the more of each colour value you have, the closer you get to the full colour spectrum – i.e. white.

CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (the reason for K is that black is the Key printing plate with which the others are aligned). This is a subtractive colour model – the canvas starts white, and you add colours in order to block out parts of the colour spectrum.

Why does print artwork need to be in CMYK?
The RGB colour spectrum is much larger than the CMYK spectrum. This means there are colours that can be created in RGB that are not available CMYK. This problem is most obvious with colours at the brightest end of the spectrum – e.g. flourescent green or yellow. Commercial presses print onto white paper using CMYK inks, so artwork should be prepared with this in mind. Transparency has a particular impact on RGB/CMYK performance, so care should be taken when working with a large amount of layers in Photoshop that colours are converted before print. Using Photoshop and other image editing software, it is possible to readjust the colour balance after conversion to more closely match the intended colour output.

 

Other Settings
If you’re a designer aiming for colour-perfect results, please export your artwrk with the following settings; CMYK (or ‘process’ colours). Colour profile: Fogra 39 (ISO 12647-2:2004). Where possible export as a PDF/x-1a:2001.

Finally…
Last but not least, a couple of final pointers for that perfect, flawless output.

  • Do use printed CMYK colour swatches to check colours if unsure.
  • Do check proofs on screen using a colour calibrated monitor (if possible). Uncalibrated screens will mean colours vary from monitor to monitor.
  • Do print samples using a commercial proof printer with output profile set to Fogra39.
  • Do use Acrobat pro output preview tool to check colours when output to Fogra39.
  • Don’t check colours against desktop printer samples as their profiles will generally try to emulate RGB colours as opposed to printing the true CMYK colours.

Resolution

A common issue with printing can be pixelation – when there is not enough information in small images, meaning images look low quality. This guide should help you to understand the concept for printing and some of the terms involved.

What is resolution?

Quite often, people tell us ‘it looks fine on screen, why won’t it print ok?’. The answer to this is that most screens will only ever display a document at 72dpi – when printed you will see 300dpi. dpi (or ppi) stands for dots per inch or pixels per inch. An image made from dots is called a raster image. The alternative to raster images is vector images, these are graphics made from lines and equations and will not lose quality at any size. It is technically impossible to increase the resolution of an image – to improve it you will need to go back to the software that you have used to create the design.

How to Check the Resolution of a Document
The easiest method of checking the resolution of a document is to view the image on a screen at around 400% of the final size that it will be printed. When viewing artwork for print on screen, if you zoom in to 300-400% this should give a good idea of the quality visible when printed.

How to Create High Resolution Documents (or Fix Documents)

The table in the ‘bleed’ section is based on printing a portrait document at 300 pixels per inch which will give a professional quality result. When measuring a digital image there is no easy way to define its size in cm or inches – this is instead determined by the dpi. For example an image that is 1748 x 1240 pixels would be A6 size at 300dpi or A4 size at 150dpi – an A4 document being twice the height and twice the width of an A6.

 

Normally a document that is of poor resolution will fit into one of three categories. By using the 400% rule trick above you should be able to identify which category yours is in.

Certain Parts of the Document Are Low Resolution

  1. Replace: The best solution is to replace the low resolution items with elements that are of a higher resolution, or vectored. If you’re looking for better resolution logo files you can ask your designer, any proofs from printers, or electronic versions of corporate documents that have been professionally produced. Stock photography websites such as iStockphoto or Shutterstock also have all of their images in high resolution.
  2. Re-size: If you reduce the size of the image or logo in question you can reduce its pixelation.
  3. Rebuild: If there is no original file and you need to rebuild a decent quality logo from scratch, you will need to commission our design team to create this for you. This can be very expensive and time consuming to do, but in instances where old files have been lost or you don’t have access to high resolution imagery, it is often the only option.

Part of the Document Is Vectored and the Rest Is Low Resolution

This problem suggests that you may have used incorrect settings in your software when saving as a jpeg or pdf. Common examples of this are having the export settings in an InDesign document incorrectly configured or exporting directly to a pdf from a MS Word document, which will not create a print-ready file.

Generally this problem can be solved by changing the attributes given when saving to a pdf or jpg. The resolution should always be set to a minimum of 300dpi and when using software that allows compression settings, these should be on maximum. If you are unsure of where you can find these settings please feel free to call us and one of our team will talk you through the process. If when checking the images in your chosen design software using the 4 zoom rule of thumb the images appear to be low resolutionyou may need to take one of the three options above.

The Whole Document Is Low Resolution
This problem can be caused by a variety of reasons which will normally depend on the software that you have used to create the file. Please feel free to call us and one of our team will talk you through fixing the problem.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can AmbiPrint improve my artwork’s resolution?
A: Unfortunately this is technically impossible; this would have to be done in the design software that you have used to create the design. Our design team can quote you for the cost of doing so, but they will also need access to the full editable files.

Q: If I can’t improve the resolution of my design what are my options?
A: You could either commission a new design from a professional designer, print the document “as is” (though we would not recommend this for the reasons outlined above), or print it at a lower physical size than you had hoped.

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