getting started

Design Guidelines

What are your basic design file requirements?

  • Bleeds: all files must have a 1/8″ bleed on each side
  • Safe Area: keep all critical text and artwork inside the trim
  • Colors: supply your files in CMYK color mode if you are printing 4-color process
  • Colors: supply your files with correct Pantone (U or C) colors selected in file.
  • Resolution: 300 dpi
  • Fonts: fonts must be converted to curves/outlines
  • Transparencies: flatten all transparencies
  • File Types: Preferred: PDF, EPS | Also accepted: TIFF or JPEG
  • ICC Profile: Japan Coated 2001

What file formats do you accept?

  • PDF (Portable Document Format) - Preferred.
  • EPS (Encapsulated PostScript)
  • PSD (Photoshop Document)
  • AI (Adobe Illustrator)
  • JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
  • PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
  • GIF (Graphics Interchange Format)

What are the correct Canva export settings for high quality prints?

"Using Canva to export your design for high quality prints is a breeze! To get the best results, we suggest you follow these steps:

  1. Click on the "Share" button in the top right corner of the Canva window.
  2. Then select "Download".
  3. From there, in the "File Type" dropdown menu, select "PDF Print".
  4. It's recommended that you check the box to include "Crop Marks and Bleeds" as this will make sure any printer can easily cut to size and shape with precision.
  5. It's also important to make sure that the "Flatten PDF" checkbox is left unchecked.
  6. If you have access to the premium version of Canva, then it would be wise to choose CMYK for your color mode. However if not, don't worry as we can easily optimize your colors during our pre-press process.

With these helpful tips combined, you'll be sure to have a high-quality print every time!

best canva export settings for printing

What is the optimal resolution for printing?

The optimal resolution for printing is typically around 300 dots per inch (dpi). This resolution provides a good balance between image quality and file size, and it is sufficient for most printing applications.

When preparing images for printing, it is important to ensure that they are at least 300 dpi at the final printed size. If an image has a lower resolution, it may appear pixelated or blurry when printed, which can reduce the overall quality of the printed product.

It is also important to note that different printing processes may require different resolutions. For example, offset printing typically requires higher resolutions (300 dpi or higher) than digital printing (which can produce good results at lower resolutions). It is always a good idea to check with your printer to find out their specific resolution requirements.

By ensuring that your images are at least 300 dpi at the final printed size, you can help ensure that your printed products have the best possible image quality.

RGB vs CMYK vs PMS - What's the difference?

RGB vs CMYK vs PMS is a bit like the Hatfields and McCoys of the design world. You're never quite sure which one you should use, when, and why! But don't worry; I'm here to break it down for you.

RGB stands for red-green-blue. It's an additive color system that uses light; combine these three basic colors together in various ways and voila!, you get all the hues on your computer monitor or phone screen! This system is used mainly by digital displays like TVs, computers, tablets and yes – phones. And because RGB relies on light to create its spectrum of colors, color matching can be tricky (think sunsets!).

CMYK stands for cyan-magenta-yellow-black (key). It's a subtractive color system best suited for printing on paper or fabric. It works by having a base layer of white then selectively subtracting to achieve other shades. Colors need to be carefully balanced so as not to remain too dark or muddy looking when printed – no surprise there since printers aren’t very good at creating bright hues from scratch either! That’s what makes this method superior in some cases since it allows finer control over each tone produced during the printing process.

PMS refers Pantone Matching System – it’s a proprietary collection of standardized solid inkings created by Pantone Incorporated back in 1963 as away way standardize corporate branding amongst different manufacturers so that companies could maintain brand consistency across any materials they printed onto ranging from business cards all the way up to large scale billboards! Each pigment has been assigned a number value directly related back into their database which makes it easier than ever before to reproduce them with exact accuracy across myriad substrates without issue (provided they have an adequate printer/press setup).

To sum things up: RGB is great if you're going digital while CMYK comes out ahead when using traditional print media due its higher level of control over hue balance and accuracy...and if precision is key then look no further than PMS - it's got everything you need! So go ahead - pick your poison my friends - just remember that behind every great project lies perfect understanding between RGB CMYK & PMS…happy designing :-)

How do I choose good CMYK colors? - Process Color Reference Guide

Hunting and pecking around in Adobe is not always a reassuring experience - that's why we created the Process Color Reference Book to share a curated list of optimized CMYK color values.

Download our Process Color Reference Book

the basics

File Preparation

How do I prepare my files for (full color) 4-color process printing?

To prepare your files for 4-color process printing, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Choose the correct file format: 4-color process printing typically requires files in the Adobe Acrobat Portable Document Format (PDF). You can create a PDF from most desktop publishing or graphic design software, such as Adobe InDesign or Adobe Illustrator.

  2. Set up your document: Create a new document in your desktop publishing or graphic design software, and set the dimensions to match the final size of your printed product. Make sure to include any bleeds, trim marks, or other important design elements in your document.

  3. Use the CMYK color model: 4-color process printing uses cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) inks to produce a full range of colors. Make sure to set your document to the CMYK color model and choose colors from the CMYK color palette to ensure accurate color reproduction.

  4. Download our Process Color Reference Book which includes a curated list of optimized CMYK values.

  5. Convert fonts to outlines: Convert any text in your document to outlines to ensure that the fonts will print correctly. This will prevent any font-related issues from occurring during the printing process.

  6. Save your file as a PDF: Once you have finished designing your document, save it as a PDF. Make sure to include all images and graphics in the PDF, and choose the appropriate PDF preset for 4-color process printing.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your files are properly prepared for 4-color process printing.

How do I prepare my files for spot color printing?

When preparing files for spot color printing, one of the most important considerations is making sure you have an accurate Pantone Matching System (PMS) number. The PMS number helps ensure that all colors used in the design match perfectly across different materials and substrates.

Please choose your colors from a physically printed Pantone Guide Book and not simply direct from your digital design software. If you don't have access to one, we are happy to select colors on your behalf or mail you one of our loaner guide books.

Knowing which PMS colors match each other makes it easy for designers and printers alike, supporting consistency throughout all projects.

Please pay close attention to which color series (U=Uncoated or C=Coated) you are choosing from - the same number PMS 123 C can look drastically different when using the U formula mixture.

Next – make sure all of the elements in your design are vector shapes (if possible). This means anything created using lines and points, rather than pixels such as photos or gradients.

That's because spot color printing requires that each element is made up of solid blocks of ink instead of a range of colors.

By using vector graphics you can easily differentiate between each section and add the right amount of ink to get the exact shade you're looking for.

  1. Make sure to include any bleeds, trim marks, or other important design elements in your document.

  2. Convert fonts to outlines: Convert any text in your document to outlines to ensure that the fonts will print correctly. This will prevent any font-related issues from occurring during the printing process.

  3. Save your file as a PDF: Once you have finished designing your document, save it as a PDF. Make sure to include all images and graphics in the PDF, and choose the appropriate PDF preset for spot color offset printing.

How do I add bleed to my design file?

Bleed is the portion of your design that extends beyond the finished size of your printed product. It is important to include bleed in your design file to ensure that the final printed product is trimmed to the correct size, with no white borders or unprinted areas.

To add bleed to your design file, you will need to follow these steps:

  1. Determine the required bleed: Check with your printer to find out how much bleed is required for your printed product. Bleed is typically added to all sides of the document, and the amount can vary depending on the printer and the type of product being printed. We typically require 1/8" bleed on all sides for North American orders and 5mm for EU orders.

  2. Set up your document: Create a new document in your desktop publishing or graphic design software, and set the dimensions to include the required bleed. For example, if you are creating a business card that requires a 1/8 inch bleed on all sides, you would set the document size to 3.75 inches by 2.25 inches (the finished size of a standard business card plus the bleed).

  3. The easiest way to add bleed to your design file is by making sure you have the right software with you! With Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, adding a bleed is as easy as 1-2-3. First, draw a rectangle that's larger than your final artwork size by at least 0.125 inches on all sides (this will be the “bleed area”). Second, select “File > Document Setup” from the main menu and enter these values into each of the corresponding fields: Bleed Top = 0.125 inches; Bleed Bottom = 0.125 inches; Bleed Inside = 0.125 inches; and Bleed Outside = 0.125 inches. Thirdly, save your document - voila! Now go ahead and design something awesome…with just a pinch of extra bleed!

How do I convert my text to outlines?

Ah, the age-old question: how do I convert text to outlines in my design file? Well, believe it or not, it's easier than you think! Here's a step-by-step guide that will make adding and converting your text to outlines quick and painless.

First off, open up your design file in whatever program you're using (Adobe Illustrator is a popular choice). Once the file is open, select all of the text objects that you want to convert by clicking them. You can also press Command + A (for Mac) or Ctrl + A (for Windows) if you want to select everything all at once.

Once your selection has been made, click on the "object" tab located at the top of your screen. From there, locate and click on "text object," then scroll down until you find "create outlines." By clicking this option, this will now transform all selected text into shapes rather than editable type.

And voila - congratulations! You've just successfully converted plain old boring type into stylish and vibrant outlines without a hitch :) Now go show off those awesome designs and bask in the glory of being an outline expert.

upgrade & enhance

Specialty Print Finishes

How do I create a mask file for special print finishes?

Ah yes, creating a mask file for foil stamping or other print finishes… a question that’s been on many minds these days. Lucky for you there are only simple steps to creating mask files like an expert!

First off, the mask file needs to be a black and white PDF - with black being ‘on’ and white being ‘off’. This means you will need to convert whatever artwork into this form before printing. The resolution of the PDF should be set as high as possible too – think at least 300 dpi (dots per inch) or higher if necessary.

Second, make sure all blacks have a K value of 100%. This is important because it makes sure your blacks are true solid colors that won't get lost in the mix when printing with foils or other print materials!

Finally, remember to create separate color print files from any photographs used in the artwork as they will not show up correctly when they're printed over foils otherwise.

If you follow these basic tips then creating masks files for foil stamping will be easy peasy lemon squeezy! But don't just take my word for it - give it a go yourself and see how easy it can really be.

How do I setup files for Spot Gloss UV?

Checkout this tutorial video we made.

Hot Tip! This masking method applies to pretty much all special finishes so once you learn it, you're golden.

How do I setup files for a piece with multiple finishes?

If your project includes foil stamping, spot UV, embossing, or die cutting you will need to provide a mask file (per finish) alongside your design files.

Create a black and white pdf file where all black areas have a color value of

K = 100%  (C=0 M=0 Y=0 K=100)

Black areas represent where you want the finish to be located and white means no finish will be applied.

If your project contains more than one finish, you must provide separate mask files for each finish.