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Artwork guide

Technical experts

It's ok. We understand. You have a computer and you're quite happy to create your own artwork. There are, however, a number of print-specific features which we need in place if we are to make lovely printed things for you. Whilst we can't teach you how to create perfect designs we can point you in the right direction when it comes to the details and the things we require in a digital file.

If you're creating your own artwork you can

Artwork essentials in brief...


The first thing to mention is: the file type. In an ideal world we'd like to receive your PDF files. Whilst we can work from Word Docs and many other types of file we've found that sometime things change around when they are opened on a different computer than the one it was created on. So, for that reason, we prefer you to save your file (whatever programme it was done in) as a PDF file. That way it will look exactly as you expect in print. But wait, there's more...


No, this isn't some vampire-driven instruction, it's what the ink does at the edge of a cut sheet. There's no magic as to how artwork is required however and it's helpful to just think of it this way: If you want a colour or photograph to go right to the edge of your item then the digital artwork needs more of that all the way round so that we can guillotine away the 'scrap'. It's almost impossible to do this on a stack of paper if the cut edge has no extra outside it - you end up with white edges and no-one likes that. So, you need to add 'bleed' on your artwork. In some desktop publishing packages (such as the Creative Suite range) setting the bleed is a process you can do at the click of a button.

We've prepared a number of file types on our templates page, all set up as we need them (plus a few screen grabs), to help you along the way of making your very own print-ready artwork for us to use. Our example below shows the 3mm 'bleed' area outside of the final trimmed size, while the pink area is the 'safe-zone' in which all text or logos, for example, should really stay (about 5mm from the edge).

Bleed and trim


The universe contains an infinite number of colours but printing only really has four. Yes, we know - it sounds like magic, and it truly is. Just about every colour you can perceive can be created in print by using blue (CYAN), red (MAGENTA), yellow and black. These four colours are usually referred to as CMYK (black is given the letter K to stop it being confused with the B in blue) and in digital files these colour instructions are very different to RGB - which is a reference to Red, Green and Blue. The screen you are reading this on works by using light (RGB) and many images are often saved in RGB but design software can change it to CMYK - sometimes with unexpected results! That's why we ask that any image or graphic you send has been converted to CMYK so that it looks great on your screen and will look just as fabulous in print.

One last thing about colour is that it is a very subjective matter. If you have a specific shade that you need to match we really need a sample to work with otherwise it's a bit of a guessing game. Not only that but as the science is dependent on a whole long list of scientific excuses it is almost impossible to guarantee the precisely same colour on different days, on different processes and jobs (ever tried buying emulsion paint or wallpaper? Yeah: that thing).