Artwork Guide

How to setup your artwork correctly so that it prints correctly

If you are not using our online designer, you will need to setup your artwork so that it's suitable for printing. Unfortunately it's all too easy to send a file over that looks great on screen, only for unexpected results when you receive your labels. This is because screens do not show underlying problems in many files created by many applications today.

We have put to together an in-depth guide on how to create your label artwork so that it prints correctly. The prices that you find online are based on print ready artwork being supplied to us.

Colour, what you really do need to know

RGB and CMYK explained

Your documents will be printed using a CMYK printing process. This stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Key, the Key being the Black. These four colours combine together to make up every colour that you see in your artwork when printed. This process differs to how you see colours on the screen as those colours are made up from RGB. RGB stands for Red, Green & Blue. RGB is unlike CMYK as it's made up from light rather than ink or coloured toner. This enables RGB colour to be more vibrant and appear more colourful.

RGB light, when combined together can create more vibrant colours than that of CMYK. This is because RGB light has a wider colour gamut than that of the CMYK Inks / Toners. There is a part of both the RGB and CMYK colour gamuts that overlap, meaning that a large part of each can be matched from screen to print. For the parts where they do not overlap, this is where conversion comes in play. If you supply us with a file made up of RGB colours, we'll need to convert it to CMYK colour for printing. If there are any colours in your RGB file that appear outside of the CMYK colour gamut, they will be converted to the nearest achivable colour in the CMYK gamut. This is done automatically by our dedicated software for the closest match.

Monitor Calibration & Proofing

There are many different kinds of monitors and also manufacturers, each have there advantages and disadvantages. We use high quality LED monitors which have been calibrated with a spectrophotometer for extreme accuracy. What we see on our screen is very close to what gets printed on our printing presses. When we send you a PDF file, more than likely you do not have the expensive calibrated monitors to view your PDF, therefore there will be some colour shift, how much depends how far out of calibration your monitor is. If you have a colour critical job, the ONLY way to ensure that it looks as intended is to pay for a minimum run before going for the whole order, otherwise you will need to go with what you see on screen and appreciate there might be some difference. You can avoid some of these issues if you are using spot colours in your artwork, this is in the next section.

RGB CMYK Colour Gamut ICC

Using Pantone® Spot colours

If you have a colour critical job and want us to produce a colour accurately, you will need to setup your artwork using Pantone® spot colours. You will need an application that will support spot colours such as Adobe Illustrator, Indesign and in some cases Photoshop. We do not provide support for setting up Pantone® colous in your artwork as this really needs to be done by a professional designer. We will use the CMYK Pantone® matching system to print your labels. Please note that there are many Pantone® colours that cannot be matched in CMYK colours. If you use a Pantone® colour that cannot be matched, it will be converted to the nearest CMYK colour. You can run into many problems when using spot colours without fully understanding how to use them so please only use them if you have experience with the colour matching system.

Important - When using spot colours, ensure you do not use any transparency effects. These effects render the spot colour useless and creates unexpected results that ruin your print. If you need a lighter tint of a Pantone® colour, create a spot colour rather than changing the transparency levels.

Setting up your artwork

No matter what program you are using, we ask that you use the CMYK colour format for your artwork. If you are to use any special colours within your artwork, ensure these are Pantone® colours only or our dedicated Gold/Silver/White colours that are mentioned in the relevant section. Any artwork you supply to us in any other format will be converted to this as a matter of course.

Accepted Formats & Resolutions

Formats Explained, vector vs raster

We print your artwork on state of the art printing presses. The quality of your print is completely dependent on the format and resolution of the artwork you supply. We will always ask you to supply vector artwork when possible as this is not resolution dependent, it's artwork created from outline data. If you however have a photo, image or anything that cannot be made up of outline data, we always recommend sending us data in a resolution of at least 350dpi. If you have small text on your image and you cannot supply as vector data, please ensure the resolution is at least 600dpi (at the actual size).

Supplying Vector Data

Adobe Illustrator is the main application used to create vector data. We ask that you firstly convert all files to outlines and save your file down as an Adobe Illustrator PDF with at least 2mm of bleed. This avoids missing images, fonts etc. As mentioned in the colour section, we advise you setup your artwork in CMYK colour mode to avoid any colour changes on press.

Checking your artwork before submitting it

As a rule of thumb, you will want to check your artwork for legibility. We recommend that using a ruler you size the artwork to it's actual printed size on your screen. If it's hard to read on screen then it'll be slightly harder to read on the final print. If it's clear and legible then 99% of the time it'll be fine on the print also.

Bleed, what exactly is it?

Avoiding white edges on your printed labels

Bleed is a printing term that refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the label before trimming. The bleed is the area to be trimmed off and it should not contain any parts that you want to appear on your labels. The bleed is the part on each side of a label that gives us a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper and the cutting dies. Artwork and background colors can extend into the bleed area. After the labels are trimmed, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed label.

It is very difficult to print exactly to the edge of a label so, to achieve this, it is necessary to print a slightly larger area than is needed and then trim the labels down to the required finished size and shape. Images, background images and fills which are intended to extend to the edge of the label must be extended beyond the trimming line to give a bleed.

Unlike many online printing companies we have catered for bleed within our online designer. The area inbetween the black and red lines on the design stage is the bleed area. You will see a fully cropped print preview on submission of artwork.

We ask that you supply all artwork with a 2mm bleed on each edge, this gives enough tolorance for any movement in the press, paper or cutter.

Print margins?

Avoid uneven looking prints or elements being cut off

We ask for you to create an inner margin from the edge of your label of at least 2mm. The printing process can have some slight movement in production. If you allow a 2mm border, you'll ensure all elements are kept within the printed area and not cut off. We do not recommend putting borders close to the edge of your labels, any slight movement can make these borders look very uneven. Whilst our waterproof/vinyl ranges are very accurate with print/cutting, our premium paper labels are not so accurate with a 1mm tolerance of movement.

RGB CMYK Colour Gamut ICC

Printing with White Inks

How to successfully setup your artwork.

We offer our clients white ink printing as standard on any of our clear vinyl range of materials. The white ink usually sits behind the printed elements to make them stand out when placed on darker backgrounds.

Setting artwork up for white ink printing

Firstly you will need to supply your artwork in a PDF/Vector format with all fonts converted to outlines. All artwork should be in the CMYK colour mode with the white areas of your artwork set to a specific Spot Colour. Please read below how to set-up your special colours.

Please be aware that the white ink on a digital press will not be comparable to the white ink in screen printing or flexographic printing, it's not 100% opaque. It enables you to have clear labels that will show up on darker objects, but there will be some shine-through from the object beneath.

How to create a White spot colour in Adobe Creative applications

Adobe Illustrator - Open up your swatches pallet by going to Window > Swatches. Then in the submenu of your swatches pallet select New Swatch. Enter RDG_WHITE as the name, then choose Spot Colour from the Colour Type option and CMYK from the Colour Mode option. You then need to enter the following values for the CMYK colour; C=10%, M=0%, Y=0%, K=0%. Your swatch will now be available to use in your swatches pallet.

Adobe Indesign - Open up your swatches pallet by going to Window > Colour > Swatches. Then in the submenu of your swatches pallet select New Colour Swatch. Enter RDG_WHITE as the name, then choose Spot Colour from the Colour Type option and CMYK from the Colour Mode option. You then need to enter the following values for the CMYK colour; C=10%, M=0%, Y=0%, K=0%. Your swatch will now be available to use in your swatches pallet.

RGB CMYK Colour Gamut ICC

Foiled Label Setup

How to successfully setup your artwork.

We foil your labels in a single colour foil. This foil is hot glued to the paper for a permanent finish. You will need to setup your artwork with solid line work and text only. You are unable to use tints with foiled labels unless they are very coarse. Send us your artwork in black and white format, in PDF format if possible. Any areas that are black in your artwork will be the coloured foil. Avoid overlapping the edge of the label, as the recess on the edge will not give you a smooth finish for large solid areas. You will need to leave an unprinted border around the edge of your label as we cannot foil over the edges.

Incorrect Foiled Label Artwork

Full colour + Foil

We cannot combine full colour artwork with foil due to the process used. Therefore, please do not send us artwork with full colour print and a foil portion.

Incorrect Foiled Label Artwork

Tinted artwork

Due to the nature of foiling, tints do not look good when printed. Ensure you only use solid black colour or very coarse black tints when designing your foiled labels.

Correct Foiled Label Artwork

Solid Line-Work

This artwork is setup correctly. The colour is solid black, so any areas in black will become the foil.

Incorrect Foiled Label Artwork

The Result

If your artwork is setup correctly, you will receive a fantastic foiled label like this one.

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