How to…supply your artwork files for print

October 10, 2011

in Prepress

At Xcaliba we’re used to receiving artwork files in many different formats across a range of software types. We thought we’d use the blog to explain a little of the implications regarding how you supply us your artwork.

When working with new clients, the question is always asked “how do you want the artwork supplied to you?” As your service provider, we should not be in a position to dictate or change our clients’ working practices and therefore we do try and remain as flexible as we can; but if asked, we tend to request that artwork is supplied in PDF format.

All design software allows you, the designer, the ability to convert your files to PDF.  Some are more easy to convert than others – for example InDesign and Acrobat are both Adobe products and therefore maybe, arguably, more compatible than perhaps Quark and Acrobat. Some other design packages may need Acrobat Distiller or full Acrobat as an add-on to allow for conversion to PDF but this is becoming less of an issue as newer upgrades for these packages become available.

So firstly, let’s look at ‘Why PDF’…

PDF artwork is nearly always WYSIWYG . This gives us an immediate check against our print-ready files so any possible issues or errors can be addressed before we submit our proofs.   One thing to watch out for is any overprint issues as this will not display in Acrobat.

Our workflow systems use PDF’s to plan, impose and convert electronic data to light-impulse data (RIP). If artwork is supplied as source files i.e. InDesign with fonts and images; then we will still need to convert to PDF.  By you, the originator, making this conversion before submitting to us; then it allows you to check that the file is as you expected it.  Click here for a useful website to guide you through the creation of a print ready PDF.

Now let’s take a look at how the PDF’s should ideally be set-up…

We would ask that all PDF’s are supplied as follows:

High Resolution – this can very in its implication subject to the print process and final output size but as a general rule images should be at least 350dpi at 100% scale placement.

With 3mm bleed on all edges and crop marks and trims on all edges – our workflow can/will add trim marks but by supplying them then it allows you to check page size and bleed.

CMYK and/or special colours – not RGB or Indexed.

With cutter/crease guides set up as a vector layer, separate to the print file and set to overprint.

With fonts embedded or set to outline.

Minimum stroke weight must be .25pt.

No ICC profiles embedded.

Blacks should not be made up from Registration or 100% CMYK

As mentioned earlier, we don’t see ourselves in a position to dictate your working practices; only to make your working day easier. If you do not want to supply your files as PDF then we are also happy to accept them as the following list:

Quark Express – supply fonts and images

Illustrator – fonts converted to outlines

Freehand – fonts converted to paths

Photoshop – layers flattened, at least 300 dpi, JPEG or Tiff

Corel Draw – fonts converted to Curves then export as Illustrator AI

Indesign – fonts converted to outlines

We’re here to help, so please don’t hesitate to contact any member of the Xcaliba team to talk through any questions you may have on your artwork set-up.

Glossary of terms

  • PDF – Portable Document Format
  • Workflow – the software and hardware used to create proofs, print-ready files from your artwork
  • RIP – Raster Image Processing.  The process of converting electronic data to light impulse date.  We use light impulse data, for example, to expose images onto litho printing plates
  • WYSIWYG – What you see is what you get
  • CMYK – the base process colours (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black), used to represent all colours in most print processes
  • RGB – the base process colours (Red, Green and Blue), used to represent all colours in most LED and LCD processes
  • dpi – dots per square inch
  • JPEG  -  compression format for image files, an ancronym of the group that created it ; Joint Photographic Experts Group 
  • Tiff – an image file format, stands for Tagged Image File Format
  • Stroke weight – the thickness of lines in a font character
  • ICC profiles – a set of data that characterises a colour input or output device, or a colour space, according to standards promulgated by the International Color Consortium (ICC)

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dariusz October 13, 2011 at 12:25 am

It all looks familiar but it’s handy to have it printed and posted on my wall in the studio. Thanks.


Martyn Dolbear October 17, 2011 at 9:21 am

Thank you for your comments Dariusz, we’re glad you found it useful.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: