PREPARING FILES FOR PRINT
To your satisfaction, in order to avoid possible errors and to smoothly carry out your order, we recommend you to read our instructions and recommendations before preparing the print files for the first time.
In the following, we provided some basic information to help you prepare your print files technically relevant. Only in this way we can carry out your order without complications and within the agreed deadline.
Some printing products and/or printing technologies require a specific preparation method that can deviate from the general instructions for preparing the printing file. For such products we prepared patterns and instructions for preparation. Product-specific instructions are available with the selected product in the online store and at our sales consultants.
Is the graphic placed on the correct size/dimension with the adequate bleed?
Is the graphic set to scale 1:1 or 1:10? If it is set to scale 1:10, did you mark it adequately?
Are the colors set with CMYK color values?
Is the content far enough away from the edges?
Number of pages
Is the number of pages in the file adequate?
Is the resolution of bitmap images high enough?
Do the thin lines have an adequate thickness?
Is the content impeccable?
Are there any specificities about which we need to be informed, appropriately marked?
Are the fonts converted into curves or are they properly embedded to the document?
Is the file for printing in the correct format – PDF (PDF/X-1a, PDF/X-3), TIFF?
The control list with the basic reference points should serve as the basic guide when preparing the files for print.
Is everything in order? Then you can send the print files to us.
If this list raises more questions than answers, here are a lot of useful tips and examples of good and bad practices.
Technically inadequate files
In some cases, we can print and create the order even when the file is not completely technically adequate, but there is a great chance of printing and manufacturing errors.
In such cases, unfortunately, we cannot take responsibility for any complaints.
It can come to:
- a significant deviation of colour shades from the expected,
- wrong size of finished product,
- wrong font (typography), wrong or missing characters,
- important parts of the content cut off, missing graphic elements,
- white edges…
At the same time, you have the option of ordering Premium print file check and/or Proof Print as an optional service, or you can fully trust us with the design and preparation for print.
We wish you a lot of fun with the preparation.
Programs for creating print-ready files
We recommend using Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign to prepare print-ready files, as you can use these programs to prepare technically relevant files that comply with recommended print standards.
Although you can also prepare technically relevant files with Adobe Photoshop or Corel Draw, due to the specificity and purpose of the program, certain constraints and/or inconsistencies in the preparation of files may occur during the preparation process. Unfortunately, some programs have some “known” errors, which developers, even after several years of development, have not yet resolved for unknown reasons.
Always prepare a print file in scale 1:1.
Exceptionally, you can prepare the file in scale 1:10, but you must inform us about this when submitting the order.
For example, if you order a product of 100 x 100 mm in size, the print file must also be 100 x 100 mm in size and not 10 x 10 mm or 1000 x 1000 mm in size.
In cases where it is not possible to prepare a file in scale 1:1 because of a program limitation, a standard limitation, or a file format limitation, you can prepare a file for the print in scale 1:10, but this must be clearly marked in the file while, at the same time, you must inform us about this when submitting the order.
Bleed and Crop marks
In principle, in the case of less flexible materials (paper, foil, plate materials) and small to medium print formats, a 3 mm bleed on all edges is sufficient.
For more flexible materials, such as textile fabrics, it is necessary to add 20 mm or more bleed on all edges.
For products of square and rectangular shapes, with crop marks, we define the virtual lines for the product to be trimmed to the final measure. The crop marks should be removed from the final dimension of the graphics as far as the bleed is concerned. If the bleed is 3 mm thick, the crop marks should be 3 mm apart and should not interfere with the area of the bleed.
Tolerances must be taken into account when preparing graphics for printing. Different machines (press machines, cutting machines, finishing machines, etc.) have allowed deviations. These depend on the purpose of the machine, the manufacturer, the size of the medium, etc., and can total from a few tens of millimeters to several millimeters.
At the same time, it is necessary to take into account the tolerances of materials – the shrinkage and expansion of materials through the process of producing the final product (temperature changes, mechanical effects). For this purpose, it is necessary to prepare the graphics with appropriate bleeds on all edges. A bleed is a graphic (or usually the background of the graphic), which is prepared in such way so its measure is bigger than the measure of the final product (it goes beyond the outer edges).
A graphic with adequate bleeds is actually bigger than the estimated measure of the final product. 3 mm bleed means that the graphic for printing is 6 mm larger in height and width and in the case of 20 mm bleed 40 mm larger than the estimated measure of the final product.
In the case of specificities regarding how much bleed is needed for specific products, this is stated in the instructions for each product.
Programs such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, CorelDraw, etc., allow you to set the bleed area and the crop marks before starting to prepare the graphic, or to turn on this feature when you export to PDF.
The crop marks serve, among other things, as visual control in the process of preparing for the print, in the process of the printing itself and in the process of completion (cutting) of the product.
For products with custom contour cut (any shape, triangular shape, circle, etc.) you can specify this with a vector contour – more about the custom contour cutting below. In this case, no crop marks are required.
Likewise, crop marks are not required on some products that are prepared with our graphic templates/patterns. Graphic templates/patterns are available for each product in the online store, along with the specificities and specific instructions for the preparation for the selected product.
Safe printing area
Text, images, logos, and other graphic elements that you want to be fully visible should be removed from the edges of the final format:
- at least 3 mm on less flexible materials (e.g. papers, foils, plate materials) and small to medium print formats
- at least 20 mm on more flexible materials (e.g. textile fabrics) and larger print formats
We recommend that you do not place graphic elements that are important to be fully visible (texts and logos) in a safe area. In the case of cutting to the final size, due to the tolerances of the cutting machines and the shrinking/stretching of materials, the cut may not take place precisely according to the crop marks. This way, you will avoid cutting or delimitting the text or logo.
The safe area is shown in the figure between the white line, which indicates the final size and shape of the product and the yellow line. Size or the thickness of this area should be at least 3 mm in smaller to medium formats and at least 20 mm in larger formats.
For graphics in scale 1:1, we recommend the following resolutions for bitmap images:
- mega format – mega graphics on the skyscrapers – 10-50 dpi
- bigger formats – jumbo posters, billboards, canvases, etc. – 50-70 dpi
- medium format – boards, bigger posters, banners, goods vehicle graphics, etc. – 70-100 dpi
- smaller format – posters, citylight posters, graphics on vehicles, smaller boards, etc. – 100-250 dpi
- small format – stickers, flyers, business cards, catalogs, etc. – 250-300 dpi
Graphics in scale 1:10 or 1: 100 should have 10x or 100x higher resolution, since in case of scale increase to 1:1 the resolution decreases proportionally.
For a high-quality end-product, bitmap images must have an adequate resolution. We recommend avoiding the use of line art images (monochrome bitmap images) and replacing them with vector graphics.
The recommended resolutions for a specific product are specified in the instructions for preparing each product.
If you are in doubts, somewhat higher resolution of bitmap images is better than the recommended one. Note, however, that higher resolution means a larger amount of data and consequently larger files, therefore avoid unreasonably high resolution.
The print file should be prepared in CMYK color space – all colors should be set with CMYK values. This includes both fonts and vector elements, like bitmap images.
Always set black font/text color as 100% black, with no added colors (C=0%, M=0%, Y=0%, K=100%). This ensures optimum sharpness and readability of the text.
In digital printing, we use CMYK color space, because we print in four basic colors: CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW, BLACK.
The use of Pantone colors is allowed, but we can print only the approximations of these colors in digital printing.
All colors that are not set with CMYK values (RGB, Pantone, etc.) are automatically converted to CMYK before printing. This can lead to deviations between the printed and the desired color.
For optimal control over color reproduction, we recommend using only CMYK color values.
Printing white color
The vector graphic element you want to print in white must be set instead of the CMYK value with the SPOT color you name White. You need to include OVERPRINT for this element.
If you want to print white in a bitmap image, use an additional channel, named White.
If you order one of our standard products, in principle, an underprint or overprint is already defined with the selected product and/or the preparation instructions for the selected product.
If you order a custom print, you need to especially tell us and be clear about whether you want to print the white color UNDER or OVER the basic printing.
Some printing technologies enable additional white printing. Since this is an additional color, it is necessary to prepare the print file adequately.
The white color can be printed completely independently or it can be printed UNDER or OVER primary CMYK print.
Templates/patterns for standard products
For specific products, it is necessary to follow the recommendations for preparation and/or a graphic template/pattern for the selected product. Graphic templates/patterns are available for each product in the online store, along with the specificities and specific instructions for the preparation for the selected product.
Fonts and typography
The font size should not be less than 6 pt. For easy reading of a wider text, we recommend using a font size of at least 12 pt and in some cases even more.
Fonts must be converted into curves or adequately attached to print files.
Always set black font/text color as 100% black, with no added colors (C=0%, M=0%, Y=0%, K=100%). This ensures optimum sharpness and readability of the text.
Larger font size is preferable for larger product formats/dimensions. The 6 pt font is acceptable and still readable on the business card, but not on a poster, a banner, a jumbo poster, etc. Different printing technologies are printed in different resolutions. Also, different materials have different minimum resolutions in which the printed character is still recognizable.
For example, with a small format printing technology, a 6 pt text can easily be printed on the 300 g SILK paper (suitable for printing business cards), because both the printing technology and the material provide a high enough print resolution.
On the other hand, when printing with large format printing technology for outdoor use, a 6 pt text will not be readable on a MESH material (intended for mega graphics and banners), as this is not provided neither by the resolution of the print nor by the resolution transferred by the material. In the concrete case, this would make sense for a minimum font size of 30 pt.
In cases where fonts are not converted into curves or adequately embedded to print files, problems with incorrect typography (font format), size, and design layout, which can be completely “broken” when typography is changed, often occur.
Avoid using HAIRLINE thickness lines. These are too thin to be properly printed. When it comes to lines use a thickness of at least 0.22 pt.
Custom contour cutting
The custom contour trimming/cutting file should be prepared in such way so the graphic is 3 mm larger than the finished product. This graphic must contain a vector contour with the SPOT color set with the name Cut (or another name that clearly indicates the purpose of the operation). The contour determines the final shape of the product.
The shape of the contour should not contain too many sharp edges at a small distance and as few nodes as possible. The text should be at least 5 mm off the edge of the contour. If you prepare graphic for contour cutting according to our pre-prepared template on which black dots are used for cutting calibration, these dots must remain in exactly the same position.
Graphic frames as part of design
We do not recommend the use of “thin” frames (less than 20 mm) along the outer edges of the graphic as part of the design (thin passe-partout), as there are deviations due to machine tolerances when cutting to final measure.
Consequently, the frame around the graphic is uneven and as such does not give the desired aesthetic result.
Orthography, content, composition
By no means do we review print files spelling, content, design, or composition.
For many-sided prints and folded prints, review that the graphic layout is properly prepared in the binding areas and aligned with the fold lines.
Before submitting the file for printing, we recommend that you review the content and composition carefully, and correct any possible spelling, content, design, and composition errors.
Preparing/exporting files for printing
We only accept PDF and TIFF file formats.
Save PDF files in PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-3 standard. Additionally, we recommend selecting the “compatibility 1.3” option. Before using, find out what are the advantages and disadvantages of PDF/X-1a and PDF/X-3 standards.
Save TIFF files without layers, combined in the background and with the “LZW compression” option turned on.
When preparing a file, please note:
- color space: CMYK
- resolution: 300 dpi (depending on the individual product and/or size)
- quality: maximal
Name the files reasonably.
Word, Excel and PowerPoint are not programs for technically adequate preparation of PDF and TIFF files.
PDF files that were prepared in CorelDRAW occasionally cause problems because CorelDRAW does not create PDF files that would fully meet PDF standards for printing.
If creating PDF and TIFF files in Photoshop, they should be created in such way so all the layers are flatten into the background.
All colors that are not prepared in CMYK (except colors for white printing and colors for finishing operations – contour cut, etc.) will be automatically converted to CMYK before printing. Deviations from the desired color may occur.
We recommend that you send one file for one product. If there are multiple files, mark them in such a way that it will be completely clear for which product they are intended, page number, sequence…
Print file check
Taking over a file always covers Standard print file check, which includes:
- whether the file is in the correct format (TIFF, PDF) – we inform you if the format is not correct
- colors that are not in CMYK will be automatically converted to CMYK – color deviations may occur
As an additional service, we offer a Premium print file check (it is charged on the day of providing the service with a valid price list), which, along with the Standard print file check, includes a following review:
- correct graphic size or dimension
- adequate resolution
- correct color values (CMYK)
- correct number of pages
- adequate bleed
- adequate offset from the edges (safe area)
- whether the perforation is marked and possible
- the graphic position corresponds to the perforation and/or hinges
- compliance with PDF/X-1a or PDF/X-3 standard
- whether the layers are merged into the background
- properly set special colors (overprint or underprint of white color)
In case of deviations from the guidelines and instructions for preparation, and in case of technical errors in the file, we cannot take responsibility for any complaints. In order to avoid these types of errors, we offer an additional service Premium print file check.
If you order a Premium print file check, we will notify you in case of stated errors and deviations. This will help you to correct the print file properly.
By no means do we review print files spelling, content, design or composition.
Design and preparation with a web application
When ordering through an online store, you can design and prepare some of the simpler products with our online application.
The app link is available within the selected product in the online store. Click on the link to open the web application with the corresponding graphic templates and patterns.
The application does not provide accurate reproduction of color shades. For better control over color shades, use professional file preparation programs.