Help with File Formats

If you have created your own artwork for a print job and want to send it to us, to professionally print and finish, this advice may be useful.

Here at Artisan we are able to accept a large number of file types and formats, which can be supplied by e-mail, memory stick, or CD.

The ideal format to supply finished artwork is Adobe's PDF (portable document format). A press ready PDF will have all its fonts embedded, have bleed (if required) and trim marks (see below). PDFs can be created from most software apps, including Adobe's Creative Suite, Apple's Pages, Quark Express and Microsoft Word & Publisher.

Please contact us if you have any questions, or if you want some advice on creating and supplying a print job digitally. With over 20 years experience in digital desk top publishing, we are more than happy to help.

Top Tip!
"If you save an image as a JPEG aways choose the best quality (lowest compression) setting, the size in megabytes doesn't matter, from our point of view, the more megabytes the better. In Photoshop the best quality setting is 12."


Understanding Bleed and Trim Marks

When an image or text is printed up to the edge of the sheet it's known in the printing world as bleed, or is said to 'bleed off the sheet'. Image 1 is an example of a finished, unfolded greetings card where the illustration prints to the edge of the sheet on three edges. To produce a design like the greetings card, it has to be printed on a sheet of card larger than the finished size, have the image larger than finished size (bleed) and when printed, trimmed on a guillotine.

Greetings Card with printing up to the edge of the sheet
Greetings Card with bleed and trim marks.

The main reason is, pretty much all commercial printing machines both Litho and Digital are unable to print right up to the edge of the sheet. Also, even with the accuracy of modern machinery there's a margin of error regarding the position of a printed image relative to the edge of the sheet. Coupled with the fact that paper expands and contracts due to the humidity of the air, bleed is required to allow for these margins of error.

To illustrate this, click on image 2 to see how the greetings card looks when it's printed, but before it's trimmed. The design has 3mm of bleed all the way round it and standard trim marks to show where the card should be guillotined.

The standard amount of bleed added to print jobs is 3mm, though 2mm and 4mm is acceptable. Bleeding an image off the edge of the sheet can give a flyer or poster a modern eye catching look, but from a design point of view when creating a job with bleed, thought has to be given to the 3mm of an image or text that will be trimmed off. Look at image 3 and see how the design, though losing some of the illustration for bleed, it has not affected the overall design of the card.

Greetings Card with bleed and trim

The Curse of JPEG Artifacts

The images below have the same resolution, size and bit depth, yet the quality of each is very different. Just by saving the file as JPEGs with different quality settings it has resulted in the image on the right being unfit for print reproduction. The JPEG quality setting determines how much an image is compressed. The lower the quality setting the higher the compression ratio, resulting in small file sizes (kilobytes and megabytes) but much inferior image quality. In this age of huge hard drives, broadband and cloud file storage there is no need to over compress files to produce small file sizes. We would always prefer JPEGs that are saved at the highest quality with their original resolution.

High quality JPEG
High Quality JPEG

Resolution - 360 x 344 pixels 72 ppi Saved in PhotoShop at the highest quality setting.

Low quality JPEG
Low Quality JPEG

Resolution - 360 x 344 pixels 72 ppi Saved in PhotoShop at the lowest quality setting.

Top Tip!
"Always open and check your PDF after you've created it. It's very easy to forget to include bleed or trim marks."

Top Tip!
"The ideal resolution for photographs and images for print, is 300dpi at same size. Enlarging an image effectively reduces the resolution. This isn't a problem if you only enlarge your image by a few percent, but you will start to see a pixelated image once you enlarge an image more than 200%."

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