Our talented artists have no problem working on imperfect files when necessary but we all know that time is precious and fixing less-than-ideal files can use up a lot of it! To ensure that you are starting your label on the best foot, follow these helpful guidelines when creating or preparing your artwork. By the end of this article you will learn many powerful industry tips that will allow you to properly format your work and look like a pro doing it. So, with no further ado, I'd like to welcome you to the wonderful world of Pre-Press-Preparation!
There is a lot of image editing and design software out on the market today but Adobe Illustrator is the industry standard and our professional preference here at Tri-Flex Label. While other software, such as QuarkXpress and InDesign, is acceptable, files created in these applications need conversion before they are sent to press. This conversion, in some cases, can result in massive design/art glitches that require extra time to correct. We discourage the use of Adobe Photoshop, though it is a powerful image editting software, it is more suited for screen-rendered art rather than printed art.
Our artists can convert your RGB document to CMYK for you. A proof of any changes will be issued before the job goes to press.
The document shown in the screenshot above was a real label we created for a client. You can tell that the document was sent in the correct color space by checking the document's title bar.
The RGB color space (Red, Green and Blue) is used to produce colors for display on screen. At the moment, while you read this article on our website, you are experiencing RGB at work! The CMYK color space (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) is used in all printing applications. When a label job calls for complex color schemes or full color images we use CMYK, or Process, printing. Though CMYK can achieve a wide variety of colors, RGB has a greater color space and can display more vivid and vibrant colors, this leaves some colors possible with RGB but impossible with CMYK. To ensure that you are choosing colors that are possible to print, it is helpful to start creating your artwork in CMYK.
Every computer contains a list of available fonts. Many run standard and can be found on nearly all devices (i.e. Arial, Times New Roman, etc...) while others are rare and require additional attention. When a customer sends Tri-Flex artwork conating a unique font, the text that was originally styled in that font is converted to a substitute font, changing the original look of the label. This happens because our computer doesn't know what to do with the foreign font. To avoid this problem, you have a few options:
Let's look at the same document from earlier...
In the screenshot shown above, the text has been styled in a font named ITC Stone Sans : a unique font. You can tell that the type is still live, edittable text because, when you select it, Illustrator displays Type in the upper left-hand corner, prompts you with Text Formatting options along the top toolbar and underlines the selected text.
Because your text will no longer be edittable once you convert it to outlines, save two copies of your document: one with live type and a second as outlined text.
To convert this live text to outlines, you right click the selection (ctl+click) and choose Create Outlines.
Once you select Create Outlines, the selected text will now be displayed with a fine outline and curve points (anchors) around each letter. You will also see that Illustrator switches from Type to Group (or Compound Path) in the upper left-hand corner and prompts you with the Path/Object editting toolbar across the top.
Follow the directions below to learn how to send Font Suitcase files...
Color Trapping is a technique used in printing when two or more colors overlap or otherwise meet. To ensure color fidelity, we don't actually print these colors one on top of another, instead, we "knock-out" the underlying color in the exact shape of the top-most color. Once this is done, the two+ colors' edges run flush with eachother, leaving perfect registration durring printing near impossible. To aid the registration process, our artists add Trapping in the form of a thin bleed of the underlying (or lighter) color in order to give our pressman a bit of wiggle room.
We applaud anyone who makes our job easier but you don't have to worry about trapping your artwork; our highly skilled pre-press artists are trained to follow stringent trapping standards to ensure high-quality printing!
To flatten or rasterize is to convert visual imformation (i.e. text, objects, shapes, etc...) into pixels for screen display or low-quality printing. By doing this to your label art, you are handing over documents that have a much lower probablity of turning out beautiful, high-quality labels. Flattening and resterizing text leaves it unedittable and hard to decipher at small point faces. It also leaves graphics unedittable, unable to be enlarged and decreases clearity when reduced in size.
If you have created your artwork in Adobe Photoshop, do not flatten your document! Though Photoshop is not one of our preferred design softwares, our artists can make your file work if all layers remain intact. Don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Sometimes clients want to use images, photographs or rasterized graphics on their label. With high quality process printing, this is completely doable at Tri-Flex Label. BUT, one of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing such graphics is Resolution.
The easiest way I can explain resolution is to say that more resolution means an image displays more detail (or is capable of displaying more detail). Higher DPI means higher resolution. Resolution is not “size”, but it’s often confused with it because higher resolution images are often bigger, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.
Abbreviation of Dots Per Inch, which indicates the resolution of images created by ink dots layed down in a single square inch. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution. Ideal resolution for print is 300 dpi or greater. Sometimes 150 dpi is acceptable but, the higher the resolution, the better the final output. Screen resolution is usually somewhere around 72 ppi (pixels per inch). Graphics that are set for screen resolution cannot be reset to higher resolutions and will not print high-quality.
In printing, a Bleed is when the background color or image is brought beyond the trim/dieline to ensure a clean cut and help with on-press registration. In ideal situations, we like our bleed to go between 1/8" to 1/4" beyond the dieline. This is more easily seen in the label example used throughout this article...
In the screenshot shown above, the label is set to be 3.5" x 3.5" as it's final size. Since the client wanted a border around the entire label, we needed to set a bleed. The label's dieline is indicated by the pink line. As you can see, the bleed has been taken 1/4" beyond the final dieline, makeing the artwork now 4" x 4".
Though, in this example, the bleed is a solid color, this technique is also used when an image or graphic meets the dieline. To ensure a clean cut and beautiful registration, be sure to use graphics that are larger than your label. Please don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Once you've done all of the above, be sure to save your perfect document in the correct file format. I cringe when a client sends artwork in a file format that isn't meant for high-quality graphics and printing: It's terrible! Consult this list of do's and don'ts and all your hard work won't be for naught...