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Setting up artwork correctly for print design

Our Bangkok print design team often receive external artwork from outsourced designers who never seem to set up the artwork for print correctly. Here are the most common mistakes in which we always have to edit before sending to print.

No Bleed


This is simple enough to setup, but you would be amazed at some of the artwork we have received to edit and there is just no bleed on it at all. We never deal with the designers directly, but instead with only the client who passes on the artwork to our print design team.

This should be the first thing you set up in illustrator, it is directly under the canvas measurements, Adobe do the work for you so there is no need to layout with these fancy trim mark templates that I often see, once you export just be sure to include trim marks in the settings.

Gigantic files with embedded images


If you are working on a large project, especially multi-page jobs like magazines or menu’s, then you should really be using InDesign and ‘LINKING’ all artwork to the relevant pages. Even if using illustrator – just link the images first and do not embed to save time and memory. This way it will not slow down your OS and crash continuously, then when finished simply export a PDF for print.

We once received an illustrator file that was 1.20GB, it contained one canvas stretched out with 20 A4 pages on for a menu all with embedded files in it. It constantly crashed my mac and in the end I had to create separate files then link each page to an InDesign project so I could easily edit any future page amends.

Fonts, fonts, fonts


Another issue we get in print design – no fonts passed on and the file given to us is NOT OUTLINED. If I am to edit artwork, I need the fonts to install on my system, it becomes very time consuming to be searching all over the internet for various fonts used in a project that we cannot seem to locate, then to top it off the client cannot get hold of the designer they used as they are now busy on other jobs.

Simply save an editable version with the fonts packaged, and an outlined version that is print ready for the press house. A system we have in place is that we just simply name the outlined text version with a ‘_OL’ extension after the filename, allowing any future designers or printer operators to acknowledge this file contains broken outlined text and is not editable.



You would be amazed at the amount of times I have received artwork for print that contains RGB values. CMYK colour process is the profile that should be used in print design, sometimes this can be forgotten if you are a web designer and creating a new project and are always working with RGB for screen, so try to be careful before setting up the project.To make things easier, you should choose to work with a print design team that works alongside a real printing agency. This way you will not waste money in the long run having to pay extra for designers to fix artwork that was never done correctly in the first place. The good news is that we here at SPS Design Studio do exactly that! we work hand in hand with our sister company ‘Siam Printing Solutions’ http://siamprintingsolutions to bring a fully print ready project to life. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help you with your next design project.