Print Ready Artwork? CMYK & Vector Drawing & Bleed Lines

Customers new to label printing seem to face a little problem, generating print ready artwork. This can cause some confusion when transferring from using a simple inkjet that doesn’t really mind about file formats, so long as the printer driver works it’s all good.

Now come to printing professionally and you have to consider CMYK and supported our preferred final artwork is submitted in “print optimised PDF” this then can be used on most if not all of our printers with minimal fuss. You can also send Adobe Illustrator (AI) originals if you wish.

Print Ready PDF From Adobe Illustrator

The easiest and one of the most common programs used for printing is Adobe Illustrator that can work in CMYK and be default is a vector based program so not need to do any labour intensive outlining.

Getting to the print optimised file in a program like Adobe Illustrator is not a difficult thing just select export as PDF. The following presumes you have set CMYK as the colour mode already.

Then in the Adobe PDF exporter set the options.

  1. Under general, Adobe PDF Preset: Illustrator Default
  2. Under Compression, In the colour, bitmap and Monochrome the dropdown needs to be “Do Not Downsample”
  3. Under Marks and Bleeds, Check trim marks are enabling this, then type in the width of trim in the “Offset” box.
    1. Tick the “Use Document Bleed Settings”
  4. Click Save, you are done.

PDF Artwork Check List

  • Are documents the correct size
  • Printed objects are centred
  • Multiple page documents in correct running order
  • Colour profile is set as CMYK. No RGB or LAB
  • Bleed – 3mm
  • Add crop marks
  • Safe area – 3mm
  • Resolution – 300dpi (minimum)
  • Fonts – Outlined and embedded

Other Print Ready Artwork Tips

  • Correct image sizes – resizing images will distort it
  • Convert all your text to paths – save a copy of your document with the fonts first
  • Use vector images especially on logos

Bleed Lines & Crop Marks

Bleed lines allow for tolerance of the guillotine, which is used for cutting the labels after printing, printers can’t print right to the edge of paper used so if you want printed colour right up to the edge of the image has to go over the edge of the label size you want.

For example, a 32mm x 64mm label will need to be 6mm wider. So 38mm x 70mm with the bleed lines on the label size. Most professional design programs no have an option so it will all be done for you.

You may also want to consider setting up a “safe zone” or “quiet border” for yourself where mission critical information is placed. On some smaller labels like the example given this is can take up a higher percentage of the label than you want to give up. So this is not enforced on these but is considered best practice on larger labels where space is less of an issue.

Crop Marks

These are small lines in the corner of the artwork document, and make trimming artwork more accurate. These need to be outside the print area.

Artwork From Adobe Photoshop

Photoshop is not a vector program, as such is not suitable for creating a final print version. Photoshop is fantastic at editing already created images. It has lots of effects that alone makes this a great tool for you, just not for final print ready artwork. By all means, use Photoshop for design work, the final layout should be done in AI or similar.

Where possible we avoid making amendments to the artwork. Readability will always look to spot obvious mistakes and advise you and sometimes advise that the design may work better on different materials. Just like we did with the vapouround labels.