How To Prepare Your Artwork For Press

Posted by
Kayla 6 Jan Posted in Instructional

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!

—Enter fireworks—

  • Use Adobe Illustrator

    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.

  • Create with CMYK

    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.

    Screen shot showing CMYK marker in Illustrator

    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.

  • Outline Text

    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:

    1. Convert all live-type to outlined text. This allows the uniquely styled text to display on our computer exactly as it does on yours. The only hiccup is that the type is now static, meaning it cannot be changed in any way, leaving editting/altering impossible.

      Let's look at the same document from earlier...

      Screen shot showing live text

      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.

      Screen shot showing the Create Outlines command

      To convert this live text to outlines, you right click the selection (ctl+click) and choose Create Outlines.

      Screen shot showing text as an outlined path

      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.

    2. Send the orginal artwork, complete with type styled in a rare/unique font, plus the actual font's Font Suitcase file. Your computer knows what that font looks like because the font's file tells it so. By sending the necessary files, we can teach our computer how to display it too. Once the font file is loaded onto our hard drive we can keep your original file edittable ; allowing infinite changes and alterations to the text at any time.

      Follow the directions below to learn how to send Font Suitcase files...

      1. Create a folder on your desktop for all of the files associated with your label. Save copies of all necessary files inside (i.e. master artwork, purchase order, any and everything you want to send to us). If you wish to create this folder somewhere else in your computer, make sure it is accessable by your email provider (if you intend to send us your files via email).
      2. Locate the file in your computer:
        For Mac Users - Open your Finder window, go to Library then to Fonts and scroll until you see the necessary font. If your font isn't in this folder, you can search your hard drive for the file by typing it's name in your Finder window Search box.
        For PC Users - Click on Start, go to Control Panel and locate the Font folder. In Windows Vista click Classic View and find the Font folder. For Windows XP and older versions go to Start, Setting, Control Panel and find the Font folder. Once you're in the Font folder, scroll until you see the necessary font.
      3. Copy the font file and place it in your job folder:
        For Mac Users - Select the necessary font and copy it by either right-clicking (ctl+click) and selecting Copy "Font Name" or by going to Edit in the Finder application bar and selecting Copy "Font Name" and paste the file into the folder you created on your desktop. You can also copy & paste by holding down the Alt/Option key and dragging the file to the job folder.
        For PC Users - Select the necessary font and copy it by right-clicking and choosing Copy then paste it by locating your job folder and choosing paste.
      4. Open your email account and create a new message. Use the Add Attachment tool, locate the job folder and select all of it's contents... Wah-Lah!
    3. Send all three: the orginal artwork file, another with all live-type converted to outlined text plus the necessary font files. This covers all bases, ensuring your label looks exactly as you planned it and remains edittable.

  • Do Not Trap

    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!

  • Do Not Flatten or Rasterize

    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.

  • Is The Resolution 300 dpi or Greater?

    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.

    res • o • lu • tion /,rezəooSHən/noun

    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.

    D • P • I • /,dpī/noun

    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.

  • Include a Bleed

    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...

    Screen shot showing bleed

    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.

  • Save As...

    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...

    • .ai
    • .eps
    • .pdf
    • .psd
    • .jpg
    • .bmp
    • .tiff
    • .png
    • .gif
    Though you never want to save your final master art file in any format listed in this red box, you can, however save internal image/graphic files as such.
Tag Icon
Let's get down to business:Request a Free Quote, Free Samples or even more Information about us...