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Pre-press and Artwork Guidelines For Digital Printing

I am always asked what do we need when we are supplied artwork files from today’s graphic design applications? So we are going to look at the most common graphic design applications and things to watch out for.

 Adobe Creative Suite

  • Indesign – Artwork and vector based design and layout program
  • Illustrator - Artwork and vector based design and layout program
  • Photoshop – Image Editing Software

Quark Express

– Artwork, design and layout program

Lets get started.

  1. Page document size:
    Always check that the artwork page or document size is set to the required finished print output size. If the finished print size exceeds the maximum document size then create the artwork in proportion to the final output size. Always indicate to the printer if the artwork was created at a different scale then 100 percent, ie: ½ scale.
  2. Color mode:
    Color mode of all documents and images should be CMYK. Please DO NOT use RGB colors. Results will be unpredictable as RGB colors are capable of greater HSB (Hue saturation and brightness) than CMYK (4 color process inks) can achieve.
  3. Images:
    In regular offset printing images should be a minimum of 300dpi effective resolution (at size of output). This means that 600dpi is required if the artwork is produced at half size.


    In large format printing we use a dithered printing dot rather than a traditional halftone dot so the images can be a minimum of 150dpi effective resolution (at size of output). This means that 300dpi is required if the artwork is prepared at half size. You can still supply the images at 300 dpi if available.

    Using either printing types listed above, it is always best to keep the color mode to CMYK and save the images as .tiff or .eps or native .psd format for the best image results.  We can output jpegs but it is better to avoid using jpegs due to their lossy compression algorithms. For additional information on image file formats click here to see our article.
  4. Black usage:
    In CMYK and or spot color work, please ensure text and fine lines etc are 100k as multiple ink blacks on these and small areas will lose definition. Larger areas and flood black benefit from a “shiner” usually (40/0/0/100). This enhances solid areas and corrects any “overprint by default” issues. Rich blacks can be achieved if desired by (50/50/50/100 or 60/50/40/100) for example but please avoid (100/100/100/100) or Photoshop’s default CMYK black (91/79/62/97) which can cause ink saturation which is undesirable.

You are ready to save and collect your job for output:

InDesign’s  ‘package facility’ and Quark’s ‘collect for output’ will ensure all images and fonts are supplied correctly.

Illustrator – Please embed graphics and supply all fonts, or convert fonts to paths (create outlines) and supply in .ai or .eps or save as a press ready pdf (press quality setting) and leave editing capability checked unless reducing file size is absolutely necessary.

Photoshop – Supplying artwork in Photoshop is possible but definitely not preferable as Photoshop is resolution dependant. For example: text will lose clarity as the pixels will soften edge definition.

Spot colors can be used for traditional printing and if used should be given their pms (Pantone Matching System) reference no. Spot colors should be converted to their CMYK values for Large Format Printing as we are printing with CMYK ink not adding additional plates for pantone colors.

NOTE: Please DO NOT use RGB colors. Results will be unpredictable as RGB colors are capable of greater HSB (Hue saturation and brightness) than CMYK (4 color process inks) can achieve.

Trapping – Default settings can be left on. We will override as necessary if custom trapping is needed.

Barcodes and QR Codes – Ideally black (100k) or dark spot colors can be read accurately. Avoid multi ink usage.

Cutter patterns – Should up as a spot color (can be called Cutter) and set to overprint and ideally be kept on a separate layer.

PDFs – We can accept press ready pdfs from other applications but the above guidelines must be adhered to or the results could be unpredictable.

Proofs – A customer approved pdf or hard copy proof is required as reference for the resulting job.

Abstract Image Group Ltd.

631-439-9098 • 720 Old Willets Path Hauppauge, NY 11788
Your Large Format Printing and Dynamic Branding Experts