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Printing tips

Sending your artwork to a printer?

There are standard design and artwork rules that you need to follow before going to press, especially if you are doing it yourself. This handy guide should help you to get it right every time.

1. CMYK is a must!

Colourful graphic showing the difference between RGB and CMYK
Before you send anything to your printer, make sure that your supplied artwork has been converted to CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black). It will then print out of four colour process onto a litho machine correctly. RGB (red, green and blue) refers to the system for representing the colours to be used on a digital screen, and if you rely on these colours when you print then you won’t get the final colours that you might be expecting. You can find more information on this here.

2. Use Hi Res PDFs

Generic Adobe PDF icon
When creating or saving your document to a PDF file to send off, double check that it has been saved in high resolution, otherwise your graphics will come out blurry, at best. If you are sending original artwork rather than a PDF, you’ll need to compress it or ‘zip’ it first before sending. But a PDF is usually the best option as the printing company may not have your software, or may not have Microsoft capabilities.

3. Cut Marks and Bleed

Line art showing cut marks and bleed on the page
If you have pictures or any part of the image bleeding off the edge of the document, always add 3mm round the edge. This is necessary for the finishing department as they will need to trim the final printed product to the correct size. There should also be cut marks showing the cutting line. This will be found in your Adobe preferences when you create your PDF.

4. Sending large files

10GB grey box representing large, high resolution files
Your document should now be a ‘high resolution’ file. Your email maximum allowance will probably be around 7-10Mb, however the file you want to send could be 20-40Mb or more. There are free websites that you can use to send files to your printer. We like the following options as they have been designed to handle massive files:

3. Dropbox

5. Dull colours?

bright blue graphic showing the word 'empowr', helping to emphasise how important colour management is
Are your printed colours duller than you expected? The luminated image that you see on your laptop may be dull in comparison when it has been converted to printing ink on paper. This is because the colours have been converted from RGB into CMYK. This is to be expected, so don’t panic!

6. Watch out for the sun and the sea

Colourful blue and orange water illustration showing how tricky oranges and mints are to print out of cmyk.
Although most colours come out fine off the press, there are some variants. Two colour in particular that suffer are mint and orange. These two colours will never have the vibrance that you see on screen because the magenta and cyan in the four process colours have no fluorescency in them. In the US they even have machines with two more heads just to add these 2 colours to the 4 process colours…but that’s the Americans for you!


Shiny red sportscar cartoon highlighting gloss finish over matt
When choosing the paper or card, remember that a gloss finish will add a bit of strength to the colours, even though matt papers are more trendy and perhaps more classy. This is important to remember when using a totally uncoated stock. We’ll talk more about this in a separate post.
These are the most important aspects of sending files to your printer, but there may other surprises in store, depending on the job in hand. If you aren't sure about your document, then we'd be happy to take a look and check it out for you. Have a great week!


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Telephone: 01279 465337


Telephone: 07966 158113


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