Creating Artwork for Print

10th April, 2008

We have many clients who have their own in-house designers but use Nexus for our production and print management skills. However, there are many occasions where we have to go back to the client as the artwork is not what we would call 'print-ready'.

Whilst we are always happy to help out and amend a client's artwork for them here are some simple tips to save you incurring any additional charges:

  • Next time that you are creating a design think about how many colours are actually needed. It is cheaper to print in 2 colours rather than 4 colours so try not to add extra colours if the design doesn't need it. Tints of colours can give the appearance of many colours at no extra cost.
  • Make sure all images are created at 300dpi. Increasing the dpi in Photoshop or other programmes will increase the size of the image but will significantly decrease the quality making it impossible to use in the printing process. Images should be saved as close to actual finished size as a tiff or eps. Be careful when you blow up a raster image (like Photoshop) in your layout programme (like Quark or Indesign) as this will lower the image resolution. Vector (Illustrator) files can be blown up without any loss to the image quality as they are not resolution dependent. If you have taken images from the web you may find that they are only 72dpi and these are rarely good enough to use in print.
  • If you are creating a job to be printed in 4 colour process, make sure that your images are set to CMYK and not RGB (CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black - although I never understood how black became K). CMYK are the colours that we use in the printing process. Combinations of these colours are used to make up all the different colours in the finished print job.
  • If you have a full colour design make sure that if you have any spot colours that they are converted and split into 4 colour process otherwise you will make your artwork a 5 colour print job and this will increase the print costs considerably.
  • When setting up a job only using Pantone Colours;Â ensure that these colours are all named correctly i.e. never mix coated and uncoated colours in the same job. If you fail to do this the colours will display correctly on screen but incorrectly or sometimes not at all on the finished print job.
  • If your design is to be printed edge to edge, allow a 3mm bleed on your document. Bleed is the amount of image or solid colour that displays beyond the trim lines. This prevents any white showing at the edge and compensates for any minute movement of the job whilst on the press or during the trimming process. Conversely always allow a 5mm safe print area for any text within the trim lines.
  • We usually prefer print-ready artwork in PDF format but you must remember to include crop marks.
  • If you are using an Illustrator eps with text within it please ensure that you convert the text to outline. Simply highlight the text to be outlined, go to text on the menu bar and click 'Text to Outlines' and this will prevent any missing font issues.
  • Get someone to check your spelling, addresses and telephone numbers and then check it again. Sometimes when you have been working on the same job for hours on end it can be difficult to spot errors. Get someone else to check it before you send it to us to print. You'd be surprised how many jobs that we have to reprint because the client-supplied artwork had a name spelt incorrectly or had wrong telephone numbers, postcodes etc.
  • Supply a printed run-out of your artwork so that we can see what you expect to be printed.

Follow these simple guidelines and we can process you print requirements on time and on budget. If you have any queries when preparing artwork that Nexus will be printing then do not hesitate to contact me or one of the studio team.

Claudine Young

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