Everybody and their grandmother is a designer these days. Heck give a two year old an iPad with free design software and the result could be the next iconic logo. In fact, design software is so easily accessible these days, with tools like Wix and Canva, you could probably design your company’s corporate identity and website in the amount of time it would take you to read this article, and it would be good too, right? I mean, sure, the logo is only recognizable in a large format but does not translate well on mobile, desktop and your business card, but since when was responsiveness ever a factor?

At the end of the day, why should you waste money and time, waiting for a “qualified” or “professional” designer to create your artwork, when you’re more than capable of creating it yourself? Besides, the designer’s work will either not be “creative” enough, or far too “artistic”. Additionally, why on earth would you want background shapes or images to stretch beyond the edge of the page? The paper is going to be cut regardless. Bleed, to be frank, is a waste of time, material, and effort.

Don’t even get me started on this CMYK rubbish. If your artwork looks good on screen, why should the printed document look any different? It’s obviously a machine calibration issue.

And so what if you’re being advised that the images you’ve used in your artwork are low resolution? On CSI they just click ‘enhance’ and hey presto! Sorted. Maybe your printer’s technology is outdated.

All sarcasm aside, these can be make or break factors when ordering with Printulu. No one wants to receive a product that doesn’t meet their expectations – and when you put your design work in the hands of your nephew, regardless of how much Jimmy used to draw in high school, you run the risk of receiving just that – a sub par product. This isn’t to say that Jimmy doesn’t know what he’s doing. We’ve all seen people with degrees in a certain field excel in the areas you’d least expect. However, beyond being genuinely good at what they do, qualified designers are highly proficient in one thing that sets them apart from your part-time scribblers – best industry practice.

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” – Steve Jobs

What is “Best Practice”?

Best practice for designers, particularly when it comes to print, means adhering to a specific set of rules that ensure you receive the expected and optimum printed version of your artwork. So what exactly are these practices?

CMYK vs RGB

In a nut shell, RGB (Red, Green, Blue) is the colour profile used for screen. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) is the colour profile used for print. All printers use the CMYK colour profile, and if you had to open up your printer right now, you’d find that these are the inks within. If one had to, for instance, print a document that was set up in RGB, the printer would attempt to translate these colours into their CMYK breakdowns. Often, the conversion isn’t accurate, and you end up with a document that looks nothing like the way it did on screen.

Bleed

Bleed is essentially an additional amount of space, usually 3 mm, around your artwork. Bleed is incredibly important, as cutting is usually done in bulk, so having a small amount of bleed (letting background imagery and shapes fall off the edge of the page) allows the cutter at least slight room for error, meaning that even if the cut is 1 mm off, the finished product will still look fantastic.

Fonts Converted to Paths

Type, when it comes to printing, can be worrisome. This is because once an artwork goes to print, if the machine does not recognize the font used, it will simply refuse to print that text. This is easily solved by converting text to paths. Doing this changes the font from type, to a vector graphic. The machine will then read the text as a graphic element, and thus it won’t be dropped.

Embedding Images & Using High Res Imagery

High res imagery and logos are absolutely essential when creating a print document. Having low res images on your pamphlet or flyer not only looks unappealing, but cheap. Always ensure that the imagery you’re using is 300dpi at the desired size. If you import a 300dpi image, double its size, you’re left with a 150dpi image. In this case, bigger is always better. You’re far better off shrinking images than scaling them up.

Embedding these images basically means that they are now native to the document, and cannot be lost upon transferal.

Conclusion

Printulu uses an automatic preflight system that assesses your artwork, and warns you if it is not ready for print. However, this system only checks  for basic errors and it can miss more complex errors. We do our darnedest to make sure you receive the product you order and this is why it is essential to follow our artwork guidelines. If incorrect artwork is submitted, we cannot guarantee that our system will pick up on the mistake. If you are unsure, we do offer design services in house at impressively competitive rates, as well as proofs. We are here for you, so go ahead and make use of all the various services we offer, or have a chat with your trusted graphic designer, and make sure that you are covered every step of the way.

P.S. Send Jimmy to a graphic design school or on a graphic design course to hone his skills.

Related Articles:

  1. Disappointed with your prints? Don’t blame the printer just yet.
  2. Top design websites for non-designers
  3. 4 Ways to Save Money on Graphic Design (It Doesn’t Have to be Expensive)

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