Frequently Asked Questions

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Artwork is a completed design ready for print. Artwork is usually created in the Adobe Creative Suite, Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign, or Corel Draw. This artwork file is converted to a print ready PDF before submitting for print.

A Visual = A Layout

A visual is a preliminary layout that indicates the general design and positioning of elements. A visual can be handy in directing the look & feel of your piece of print. Usually, your visual won’t be your final piece of work, it is your first step towards creating your final piece so don’t fret if elements need to change.

A proof is a printed or digital sample of work to be checked for errors in text, positioning or quality of colour reproduction. A proof is the first step towards your final piece of work.  Think of it as a working draft just waiting to be perfected. 

We provide a digital proof with some of our artwork services. 

PDF Stands For Portable Document Format. 

This is the industry standard for saving files in an acceptable and stable format.  When you supply files for print you will usually be asked to supply them in PDF format. We can accept other formats.

You can save out a design file or word processing file by choosing the “file”>”save as” options.  Remember that you will often need to add crops and bleeds to your files before submitting them for print.

Image resolution refers to the sharpness and quality of an image. The higher the resolution, the better quality the final printed product.

Have you ever created an impressive print design only to find a thin white line at the very edge? If you discover a thin white line at the edge of your print upon receiving it, you must have forgotten to include a printing bleed in your artwork.

 
Bleed

Now, what is bleed for printing? Bleed is the extra space around the outside of your document that will be cut off during production. It is essential in printing almost all types of paper print products including business cards, presentation folders, canvas prints and even banners.

Print documents usually have crop marks which indicate where the cutting machine needs to cut. Although new cutting technology has made it easier to cut print products more accurately, it can’t always cut perfectly.

This results in a slight shift where the machine cuts beyond the intended trim line. If your artwork doesn’t have a bleed, the resulting print would have thin white lines at the very edge.

How do we prevent this from happening? We need to include extra information outside of your design document which we will be cut off. This is the printing bleed.

 
How to set up a bleed?

The print bleed can be created as you set up your file. Find the bleed option in your document setup and create a 3 mm bleed over the document edges. For some large products such as banners and panels we recommend a bleed of 5 mm. This way, there will be no chance of white edges when your product is cut at the trim line.

Creating a bleed is a small, but important step in making stunning print products. Remember to include one in your print document the next time you order a brochure or flyer!

DPI = Dots Per Inch - The More The Merrier For Clarity of Print

DPI refers to “dots per inch” indicating the resolution of an image. The more dots per inch, the higher the resolution and the better quality the image. 

In printing the dpi resolution is very important so that you get the best quality finish you can with no pixellation.  Pixellation is where the image looks grainy and distorted and happens when an image is supplied under the recommended dpi.

What are pixels?

Pixels refer to the tiny dots of colour that make up a digital image; think pointillism for the digital age.  Thanks to really good design platforms like Photoshop, we can edit imagery pixel by pixel.

Digital printing is the process of printing products directly from CMYK print-ready files.  This type of printing is ideal for short runs and fast turnarounds.

Die cutting is the process of cutting bespoke shapes into paper or a board using a die.  This is a common process for custom printed stickers that have a specific shape to them.  A steel cutter chops the board or paper into the desired shape, and you are left with a custom silhouette.

Stock refers to the paper or card to be printed on.

Paper that is made with a coating, such as gloss or silk, which makes the paper appear shinier. A silk coating feels smooth to the touch and has a gentle shine, ideal for displaying colourful images. A gloss coating has a stronger shine and smoother finish, and display colours vibrantly.

Coated paper is commonly used for leaflets and flyers.

We use FSC certified stocks. 

Uncoated paper does not have a coating. It can be written on, and overprinted, so is commonly used for letterheads and compliment slips. Uncoated paper is also referred to as bond or offset paper.

Uncoated paper compares to coated paper, which is made with a coating, such as gloss or silk.

We use FSC certified stocks.

A laminate is a thin, transparent, plastic sheet that is applied as a coating to printed items. They prevent solid blocks of ink from cracking, as well as offering additional protection against wear and tear, and spills. Laminations can be single or double sided, and are recommended for use on thicker paper stocks and items intended for regular use, such as book covers, postcards, and business cards.

Self-cover is when the cover of a booklet uses the same paper as the inside pages.

Crop marks are lines near the edges of an image indicating the area of print to be reproduced. The area outside of these lines may be cut off during guillotining. Crop marks are also known as cutting marks and tick marks.

CMYK is an abbreviation of cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black). These are the four process colours commonly used when printing.

We highly recommend using CMYK images as RGB images will be converted to CMYK in our workflow, and this may result in a small colour shift.

Colour settings are easy to change within the design package.

Wire binding is a form of binding where a continuous series of wire loops are run through punched slots along one side of a booklet.

Spiral binding is a type of binding where a plastic spiral is looped through holes punched into the pages of a booklet. It is also known as comb or coil binding.

Saddle stitching is a type of binding where pages are stapled together where they fold at the spine.

Perfect binding is a type of binding where pages are held together at the binding edge by a glue or synthetic adhesive. We use a PUR adhesive which gives a bond 60% stronger than other adhesives typically used in perfect binding.

Comb binding is a form of document binding where a plastic comb is used to grip the spine edge of a book.

Case binding is a form of document binding used to create hardback books. The pages are covered with a stiff outer cover and are often covered with an outer cloth, vinyl or leather.

Landscape is a page orientation where the width of the artwork is greater than the height. This is the opposite of portrait orientation.

Landscape is a common choice for business cards and compliment slips.

Portrait is a page orientation where the height of the artwork is greater than the width. This is the opposite of landscape orientation.

Portrait is a common choice for booklets and posters.

Personalisation is where data elements are unique to an individual piece, such as numbering on event tickets and NCR jobs, or adding addresses to a leaflet.

A watermark is a translucent logo on a sheet of paper. It is created during the manufacturing process, by slightly embossing the page with a dandy roll while the paper is still approximately 90 percent water.

Other most commonly cost effective method used is to print 5%-7% tint of black color in the background to create watermarks effect. 

Watermarks are excellent for copyright protection whilst being transparent enough not to ruin the work.  

CMYK = Cyan Magenta Yellow & Black These Are The Colours Used In Traditional Printing

CMYK is an abbreviation of cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black – yes, we know it should be CMYB in that case).  These are the four process colours commonly used when printing.

RGB refers to red, green, blue (yes, this abbreviation is sensible) and is used in online design.

Top tip - We highly recommend using CMYK images in your designs and setting up any documents as CMYK documents.  You can use RGB but any artwork provided in RGB format will automatically be converted to CMYK in our workflow, and this may result in a small colour shift.  You might want to think about getting a proof.

Colour settings are easy to change within the design platforms you use. For Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator, you can change the colour setting in the proof set up menu, under view.  For other design platforms, simply check the document settings.

Colour challenges giving you a headache?  This is why your printed colours are not matching when you use RGB formats: Learn more about how different color formats affect your print. 

Other colour terminology you might come across:

 
What are HEX codes?

A hex code is the number following a hashtag which tells you very specifically which colour you are using.  It might look like this #2b2b2b and you can find it when you pick or pipette colours within a design platform.  They are used in digital design for web set to RGB rather than CMYK design.

 
What are Pantone®colours?

A pantone is a standardised colour matching system specifically for the print industry to identify ink colours.  They are used to best match the colours within a design, so the print is a true reflection of the proof.

 
What are colour swatches

Colour swatches are swatches of specific colours, tints, or gradients that you are using in your design piece.  Many design platforms keep a record of the most common colours, but you can create your own.  Colour swatches come in very handy when you have specific brand guidelines to follow.

 
What is CIELAB l* a* b*?

This is another way of managing colour and this particular colour profiling approximates to the best match for the human eye.

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