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How to create your file for printing in Photoshop

Creating a new document for printing is simple, but you should pay attention to some details when configuring your product. We will explain these details step by step in the following.
Note: Photoshop is not the best graphics software for creating your artwork and getting it ready for print. Nevertheless, there is a way to mount your file in Photoshop correctly.
Go to Top Menu > [File] > [New]. As marked red in the following screenshot, enter the measurements [Width] & [Height] at least 6mm to more bleeding (3 mm on each side).
For [Resolution], enter at least 300 pixels / inch and for [Color Mode] choose CMYK color and 16bits. Always try to set the [Background Contents] to Transparent. Note: These settings are crucial for generating your file in Photoshop.
Once you click [OK]. Your file should be looking like this:

How to check your final format and number of pages in Photoshop

To upload your file, you must first verify if your format and number of pages this corresponding to the settings you requested in your Printulu order.

Checking and/or changing the size of your file is very simple. We will show you how to do it in the following.
In this software, your artboard is called Canvas, as opposed to Illustrator. To check the measurements of your canvas go to Top Menu > [Image] > [Canvas Size]. A new window for editing your canvas will open, which allows you to check and adjust the dimensions of your artboard. Once you checked whether everything correct, click [OK].

How to set Bleed and Margins in Photoshop

In order to get optimal printing results, please provide for 3mm bleed and 3mm safety margin in your artwork. This is crucial, as it may occur that the cutting is a little bit too far in (which is why you need a safety margin) or too far out (which is why you need bleed). The safety margin ensures, that no actual content gets cut out of your artwork. The bleed ensures, that there are no white borders at the edges of your product.
To apply the bleed and safety margin in your file you need to follow the instructions provided here. Please note that Photoshop is not the ideal software to prepare your files for printing.
Set the Bleed
To apply a Bleed to your document in Photoshop, you need to change the size of your document as a whole, as there is no way to extend the canvas beyond its boundaries. In other words, you need to add the Bleed to the total size of the canvas (beyond the paper limit). Before applying your Bleed, you need to place guidelines at the edges of the file, so that you know the paper limits. If the rulers are not visible on your screen, go to the Top Menu > [View] > [Rulers] and drag the lines to the edges of your artwork. For example, if you are mounting a canvas for business cards with the size of 90x50mm, you need to add to all sides a 3mm bleed, or your canvas must have the size of 93mm x 53mm.
To do this, go to the Top [Menu] > [Image] > Canvas Size [size of canvas]. In the next window, add the bleed measure the size of your document, + 3mm in height and width and the click [OK].

Set Safety Margins

Please set the set the Safety Margins 3mm inwards from the paper limit into your artwork. For this, you can again use the ruler tool as before.
Your document should be looking similar to the one shown below. Please make sure that you fill up your Bleed with al graphical elements, as shown below. Please also make sure that the critical content of your artwork is inside the Safety Margins, to guarantee that during the cutting process no information gets lost.

How to use high resolution images in Photoshop

Choosing the right images in your files needs to be done carefully. Just because images appear good quality on your screen does not mean they are in fact high resolution. In addition, the image must be in CMYK, the color mode for printing, and not in RGB mode, which is not usable for printing.
There are two types of images: bitmap images and vector images. Bitmap images consist of a series of little dots called pixels. In other words, many single pixels together form the image. When zooming into your image, you will eventually see the single pixels. Vector images, on the contrary, are not based on pixels, but on mathematical formulas that draw certain lines and curves. This is why vector image are just as sharp when zooming in.
To make sure your bitmap image is just as sharp as a vector image, you should check the resolution (DPI) of it. DPI measures the amount of pixels per inch.
See the example below: Above, you see a gradient with 10 pixels per inch (dpi) as well as one with 300 pixels per inch. It becomes very clear that the poor resolution of 10 dpi impairs your image quality. We call this "pixelated" or a "blurry".
For your image to be suitable for printing, you need to ensure a minimum resolution of 300 dpi. Only then high quality printing can be guaranteed. However, the required resolution also depends on the choice of product. The larger the product, the lower the required resolution. So for instance for a business card we recommend at least 300dpi, but for a poster also 150 dpi are sufficient. To verify that the image in your artwork is in high resolution you must follow the following instructions:
Go to the Top Menu > [Image] > [Image Size]. In the next window uncheck all the options at the bottom if they are selected. If your image is at 150 dpi (300 dpi) or more, it is suitable for printing. When you change the resolution of a file, it undergoes changes in its size. Lowering the resolution is not a problem, however, increasing it is. In this case, you need to create a new file with higher resolution.
Please note that Photoshop does not allow you to verify the resolution of individual images, because the software works with pixels. In other words, it identifies the entire document as a single image.

How to select the color (CMYK) in Photoshop

Always try to mount your artwork in CMYK color mode right from the beginning as shown in Section "Create your file." Please not that only a CMYK color mode is suitable for printing and therefore it is essential that you create your file in CMYK. If you have not already done so, follow our instruction to make the conversion now:
To turn your file to color mode CMYK go to the Top Menu > [Image] > [Mode] > [CMYK Color] In doing so, several warning signs may appear. The reason is the following:
If there are 'Smart Objects' in your document, the first warning states that the change in color mode will lead to changes in appearance. You will be asked if you want to rasterize the smart objects. In this case, click [Don’t Rasterize]. The second warning will inform you that the color mode change may discard some adjustment layers.
Here you must click [Merge] in order to keep the other setting of your document. Please note that if you prefer to click OK, you must watch out for any other changes in appearance in your file. The third warning only tells you which profile you are using when converting (the color profile is a pattern according to the ISO system adopted in each country).
Just click OK, because your software fits this pattern automatically. When clicking [OK], the color conversion will start. Tip: If you want to view your document in CMYK without changing your color just go to the top Menu > [View] > [Proof Colors]. You should see something similar to the example below:

How to convert fonts in Photoshop


Using fonts
Fonts are sets of lettering styles, which can be installed on your computer. Once in place, you may use them for any file you create. However, when opening your file on another device on which the font is not installed, you may encounter problems with appearance.
To avoid such problems, it is important that you convert the fonts in your artwork to curves. In the following we will lead you through the process. Please note that when saving graphic production files as PDF / X1A you can avoid manual conversion to curves.
Changing fonts to curves
Before continuing, make sure you save the original document under another name first, since at the end of this process you won’t be able to edit text anymore.
As Photoshop works with images, i.e. pixels, and not vectors, it is not possible to transform the fonts into curves. Therefore, we need to complete a process of rasterization of fonts.
In the [Layers] window select the text layers you want to rasterize:

Then go to the top Menu > [Type] > [Raster Type Layer]

The other option is to click the right mouse button on each text layer and choose the [Rasterize Type] option.

How to convert fonts in Photoshop


Creating a PDF / X-1a file
Before we will lead you through the process of saving your artwork as a PDF, please make sure that your security margins and bleed are set correctly (for more information please refer to our section “Set Bleed & Margins”).
Please not that in order to complete this step, you need an additional program as Photoshop cannot complete the process fully.
With your file open go to the top Menu > [File] > [Save As].

As format, choose [Photoshop (*.PDF, *.PDP)] and click [Save].
What about the color below?

* Should a dialog box pop up and ask you if the PDF default settings can be overridden, click [OK].

In doing so, you will open a new window with PDF specifications: Set the Adobe PDF Preset field to [High Quality Print] and the Standard field to [PDF/X-1a:2001]. Then tick the panels [Optimize for Fast Web View] and [View PDF after Saving] under options. Note, in some Adobe Illustrator versions, this menu might only show a “Custom” option, but you will still be able to select the options.

Please note: In some versions of Photoshop, available option can be PDF / X-A1: 2001.
Then simply click [Save PDF]. Once completed you must open your PDF file in one of the other software programs mentioned and save it again with the marks and bleed.

How to configure your grey colors correctly


Grey is an intermediary color composed of black and white and has to be treated carefully. In other words, grey is a percentage of black (K). Therefore, to compose a tone of grey, you need to set your black (K) color to a certain percentage between 0% and 100%. Do not use the three other colors as it will result in a lower printing quality (set Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow to 0%).
Please see our example below for setting up your grey colors correctly. The instructions can be applied to any image editing program (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), as color palettes work the same way in any program.

On the left, you see how it should be done – grey as a percentage of black (K) and CMY at 0%. Only in doing so, you ensure that the grey areas in your artwork are configured correctly for printing.
On the right, you see the wrong way – grey composed of all colors (CMYK). This way, the grey gets too “loaded” due to the many colors. Such composition can result in lower printing quality.

How to configure your black color correctly


Black (K) is a frequently used color when designing artworks. This has various reasons, such as creating contrast or strength. Nevertheless, black (K) is one of the most difficult colors to print and can cause a lot of problems during the printing process. To avoid such issues, it is essential to configure the color correctly. The instructions below can be applied to any image editing program (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), as color palettes work the same way in any program.
Particularly for text elements and thin lines it is crucial to use pure black – 100% black (K) and 0% CMY.

When using black (K) for larger areas and elements, make sure you use a CMYK composition for black: for instance set Cyan (C) to 30%, Black (K) = 100%, and Magenta (M) and Yellow (Y) each to 0%.

How to configure fine lines


When printing, variations of 2 - 3 tenths of a millimeter are common to occur for all elements. With medium to large-format prints, you won’t notice such occurrence. However, for with small element and fine lines you will notice these variations remarkably. They appear as “blurred lines” as illustrated in the picture below.
To avoid any such complications, make sure you do not use more than 2 colors when configuring small elements and thin lines.

The illustration above shows you how such variation when using many colors can look like.
Let’s assume you want to print a brown line. For brown 3 colors are needed (CMY). This can result in tiny variations when printing and thus in a “blurred line”. In this context, using a brown color for thin lines in your artwork may not be the best choice for you. Either use another color or make the element bigger in size to avoid such complications. In our example, the text line should be either in one color (e.g. black), or at least 3-4 points thick.

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