How to Add Bleed and Crop Marks to an Image in Adobe Photoshop

Published Apr. 28th 2008

To consistently produce quality photos or fine art prints using Adobe Photoshop, you will want to become familiar with bleed and crop marks. The following tutorial will show you how to create crop marks and set up the appropriate bleed for your prints.

What are bleed and crop marks?

Every professionally printed photo or fine art print rolls off the printing press with a white border around the edges. Crop marks are simply lines on your computer screen which show you where the paper will be cut after it is printed.

In other words, everything outside of those crop marks will be trimmed away, including the white border. If your image does not extend all the way past the crop marks, then your final product will have a strip of white showing. (Something you’ll want to avoid.)

Using Photoshop you can easily create a bleed area to make sure your artwork extends all the way to the end of the page (past the crop marks). This will ensure that there are no unseemly white sections showing up on your final product

How to add bleed and crop marks to an image

To create an image in Photoshop with the the correct bleed and crop marks, you have to think ahead.

Let’s say you are working on a photo that will be printed 7 inches wide by 5 inches tall. In order to have a bleed area, the actual image you send to the printer must be slightly bigger than 5 inches by 7 inches.

Your commercial printer will tell you how big your bleed area should be—make sure to ask if they don’t! A common size is 0.125 inches, so we’ll assume you are going to have a bleed area of 0.125 inches.

The first step is to make your working area in Photoshop (called the “canvas”) 0.25 inches taller and wider than you’d like your final product to be. In this case you would create a new canvas that is 7.25 inches wide by 5.25 inches tall.

Create a New Canvas

Drag out guidelines 0.125 inches from each side—that’s where your crop marks will be, and where your bleed area begins.

Creating the Bleed Area

Open up the file that you’ll be printing and copy that image onto the new canvas. It should extend past the crop lines into the bleed area.

Photo with Bleed

Remember, everything inside those guide lines will show up on the final product. Everything outside will be trimmed off.

If you’d like to get an even better visual idea of your bleed area, go to Photoshop’s File menu and click on the “Print with Preview” command. Put a checkmark in the box that says “Show More Options” then place a checkmark in the “Corner Crop Marks” box and click the “Bleed” button.

Once you specify what size you want the bleed area to be (in this case 0.125 inches) Photoshop will show you a print preview of your image with the bleed area and crop marks in place.

Kaitlyn Miller writes for, an online printing company that offers postcard printing, business cards, posters and more.

Did you like this article? Share it!
Then check out the related posts below.
Sending a completed project to a commercial printer for printing can be a very exciting time. All the time and effort that you have invested to make the perfect design, artwork, or photograph is about to pay off. It is now out of your hands. However, it can also be a very stressful time. If yo. . . read more
NOTE: If the following tutorial feels overwhelming, or you're just not interested in learning the software and would rather pay a professional, there ARE other options. Head over to to find out more. For everybody else, here's how to color your photographs yourself: One of Adob. . . read more
Adobe Photoshop allows artists to alter photos and images in amazing ways. One of the more subtle (and often very effective) changes that you can make to an image is to add depth of field. What is Depth of Field? The term depth of field is used to describe the area in a photo that is in focus . . . read more
If you've ever taken photos of your art that turned out to have angled or curved edges, you're not alone. It's actually pretty tricky to photograph paintings or other 2D art without causing some distortion. Luckily you can fix most of those problems in Adobe Photoshop with the free transform t. . . read more
The following tutorial covers some basic techniques you can use to create digital art that has the look and feel of traditional media. 1. Playing with Photoshop brush presets You can make your own brushes, but Photoshop comes with some built in presets that already mimic natural media and are . . . read more
Stay current.
Subscribe to EmptyEasel's free weekly newsletter for artists. Sign up today!
Art Contests
More art contests. . .
EE Writers
Cassie Rief Niki Hilsabeck Brandi Bowman Michelle Morris Lisa Orgler Adriana Guidi Carrie Lewis Aletta de Wal

If you'd like to write for EmptyEasel, let us know!

We love publishing reader-submitted art tutorials, stories, and even reviews.Submit yours here!