Studio Time: Artwork Requirements Overview

It would be easy to imagine that as a design studio, we mostly design banners.

We wish that were the case, but we actually spend a lot of time making sure that artwork is ok. The reason being is that we tend to be the last people to see the artwork before it’s handed onto our guys in production, so we need to make sure that customers’ artwork is absolutely ready for print.

All The Trimmings

Most of the time goes into making sure that artworks have the correct bleed and crop marks. This tends to be the most common pitfall on files supplied to us, so we’ve provided a few tips on them in one of our previous posts, ‘Bleedin’ Crop’.

Normally, if artwork is provided to us without bleed and crop marks, we are able to scale the banner up a tad and re-export it here, due to only a very minimal amount of artwork being lost. However, in cases where we think it may have a negative effect on your design, we’ll always let you know and give you the option of re-supplying the artwork to us.

Of course, there are many more things listed in our banner artwork requirements than just bleed and crop.

Our Banner Artwork Requirements

Our Banner Artwork Requirements

We’ll be going into several of these in more in-depth posts, but another common pitfall is file format.

Sprechen sie PDF?

We sometimes get sent files that we have no way of opening. CorelDRAW (.cdr) files and Signlab (.cdl) are the most common. Unfortunately, giving us these is a bit like trying to pay with a bag of Rupees at Tescos – they simply have no way of using them, and will kindly ask you to give them a currency they understand.

Proportion

It seems quite obvious that when you order a 3m × 1m banner, you’ll need a 3:1 scale artwork to match. Unfortunately, we see a lot of artworks that don’t scale to the right size. Again, if the artwork is close enough, we may be able to do a little jiggery-pokery to make it work, but this will often involve either cropping off some of the artwork or distorting (squashing/stretching) the image in some way. Instead, we’ll often need to have the original artwork sent at the right scale and proportion.

One Page, One Artwork

Our guys in production ask that we hand artworks to them on one-to-a-page basis. So whenever we receive a document that contains several banner artworks on one page, we’ll always re-export them into individual files or pages. Generally, it’s simpler if each artwork is it’s own file (as opposed to page), as this makes it less likely to miss any, and also because they can be named suitably to make things clearer.

Fonts

Custom fonts are great, but not everybody will have the same set installed, especially the specific one used in your artwork. Some fonts are of course free to download, but others are only available with a commercial licence. Add to the mix the fact that some font files are for PCs and others for Macs, and you soon begin to run into problems. Many fonts can be embedded within PDFs, which can take a lot of the pain away.

However, by (deliberately or otherwise) not embedding fonts, problems arise when the artwork designer and someone else have two different versions of the same font. For all of the above reasons, often the safest way to supply typography to us is to outline everything (this is also known as curves or shapes). Just remember not to save over your source file afterwards!

Pantones

Many companies have their own brand rules which include specific Pantone colours to represent the brand. Because our printing process uses Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK), we can’t print Pantone colours themselves. For that reason, there are some colours that are simply impossible to print with CMYK. Simply using equivalent CMYK values or converting the Pantone to CMYK doesn’t always give the desired result. Having said that, if you include the Pantone in your artwork and let us know about it, we’ll do our best to get as close to it as possible.

Images

Although vector artwork is really cool, there are many occasions when pixel-based images are needed in a design. It is of utmost importance that any images (or other linked files) are embedded into the print-ready artwork. If the file isn’t embedded properly or is missing, there’s a high chance that it either won’t print at all, or an extremely low resolution version will be in it’s place.

To Me, To You

Of course, once you’ve got your artwork ready, you’ll want to send it to us. To find out the best way to do this, you can do no better than reading Wayne’s explanation on sending us your artwork.

Bleed, Crop, Whassat?

If you ever need any advice on our artwork requirements prior to sending us your files, please do not hesitate to email us in the studio for help, or alternatively, call us on 0845 604 1030, whichever you prefer. We’re always happy to help.

Mutually Beneficial

Although we realise adhering to a set of requirements can be a bit of a drag, we would politely ask that you stick to as many of the requirements as possible. This has multiple benefits: we won’t need to mess with or otherwise adjust your design, there will be much less chance of an unsatisfactory design being printed, and your artwork will find it’s way to print much quicker.

Artwork that adheres to our requirements will generally get produced ahead of artwork that doesn’t. It’s a bit like using those self-service, fast track thingies at the supermarket. You’ll get your banner quicker, and we can get back to creating great looking designs!

About Ian

Ian Oliver has always had a keen interest in design and computers. He started using CorelDRAW at the age of ten, later migrating to Adobe InDesign at fourteen. After leaving College, Ian secured his first job as a print-based designer at Dovercourt Ford in Essex, working in the marketing department alongside Scott and Wayne. He has since learnt the fine-art of front-end web development, and trained himself using best-practice modern web standards. Also interested in the world of technology, Ian now describes himself as an Open Source and web standards advocate, Graphic Designer, front-end Web Developer, expert in the intricacies of HTML and CSS, and an all-round tech geek. He sees HTML like Neo sees the Matrix.
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