There are some things that you want to be aware of when you start creating an artwork that will be printed. Because most of the Photoshop Tutorials on web are not going through a printing process, these details are omitted and in this way the user is getting used to develop over many years without considering some important details. He is reaching the point when, as a graphic designer, his work will be printed and chances to become a total fail will be huge.
To avoid mistakes in the long run we must learn some basic things about printing.
What you see on the screen is different than what you print and this happens because most of the printers (even the high-end ones that cost a lot) can’t perform like a screen.
Your monitor is using RGB colors while a printer is performing with CMYK (K is black color). It often happened to me to use RGB instead of CMYK and when I printed the work a light blue was a dark blue, a yellow to green color was complete green etc. Apart from these, black happened to be a dark blue sometimes and result was catastrophic. It is important to keep in mind when you are creating something that will be printed that CMYK is the best way to go. When you create a New File, just make sure that CMYK is selected.
You started with CMYK and you begin working. Unlike the rest of colors, black has a different approach.
Now you may say ” Hey, but isn’t that black a blue ? “. Well, it is, but is good for print. I personally tested on my CanonMP160 and I had a black with a little bit of blue to be honest, but was black. Don’t think now that a printing company has a compact printer. To be clear on things, go and talk to the company that you will print, otherwise keep it like in the image above.
When it comes to layouts, you must be aware of some guidelines. These guidelines are called Bleed, Trim and Safe. Often you can see them as areas or zones. Let’s look at the image below.
Bleed area is the portion of your artwork that is bleeding or stretching if you want. To prevent white borders when a business card is trimmed, for example, bleed comes in and is completing the color. This means that your bleed area is not always something that will disappear.
Some use trim areas, some don’t. Often the bleed area from above is called Full Bleed and the Trim Area – Bleed Area.
Trim line is where the material is cut. Maybe now you’ll have a better understanding of bleed. If the trimming is made a little bit more to the left and you lack of bleed area, white borders are appearing. This is why it is important to always keep these guidelines in mind and apply them.
Safe line is the line of the police. No more text and images beyond this point, sir ! You should keep your title, text paragraphs, logos, everything in this zone because only the background can pass. Always make sure that important elements of background are not passing this line. Suppose that you have a man stretching his hands with a blue towel in his back. You may extend the towel until bleed, but don’t let his fingertips pass the safe line.
Now you may ask yourself “Ok, so what do I have to do ? Create these lines everytime ? What are their sizes ?”. Most of the times, the bleed area is a 0,25in, same for trim area, but sometimes other companies that will print your work have their own sizes so, if you can, ask them for a template. If you always go with 0,25in is perfect because these are standard, although when I used to work at a local printing company they had different sizes for bleed.
Anyway, keep it 0,25 or to make it more easier for you, download templates from companies like Uprinting.com. They have all kind of templates, from tri-fold, bi-fold brochures to business cards. Just register and start downloading templates whenever you need them.
These templates already have the resolution and DPI set, bleed/trim lines are drawn. You only have to start working on your project.
DPI comes from dots per inch and is a measurement tool for pixels if I can say that. For materials like brochures/flyers/book covers 300DPI is enough and very good. If you consider an artwork for a billboard, a mega poster or something bigger, you have to raise to 450 and even 600 sometimes. Be aware that increasing the resolution or dpi also makes your file bigger so prepare for Photoshop to start using more of your processor.
What I told you here are only some basics that you have to keep in mind. Further information is always welcome so I recommend you to take time and take a look at this article “A Guide to Preparing Files for Print“.
Now that everything is clear, you will have a plus when you’ll start another tutorial. Good luck !