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 you do not prepare the file just right, the printer will have a hard time completing the job, and you may have to make some adjustments. Or, even worse, the project may not look the way it is supposed to look after it gets printed.
While the latter usually is not an issue if you are working with a quality commercial printer, it is still important to know the things you need to do to ensure that your Photoshop file is ready for the commercial printer.
Here, step by step, is how to do just that:
1. Save your file in the correct format
Your image file should be in a standard format, to avoid any potential problems with your printer. Standard formats include PDF, EPS, and TIF.
2. Set the image resolution to 300 dots per inch
Almost all commercial printers require that your files be set to 300 DPI (dots per inch). If your image is at a lower resolution, it may be stretched to 300 DPI by the printer, which will result in a very unfavorable print job.
3. Make sure your file is the right size
Your printer will print your file just as they receive it. So make sure you designed your image at the same size that the ultimate product will be.
4. Check the bleed
About 3 mm on each side of your design will get chopped off. That is called the bleed. Do not put anything really important (i.e., anything that absolutely has to appear in the final product) in this area. Learn how to set the bleed amount for your art.
5. Don’t cut off your words
Keep all text, along with vital images, at least 6 mm away from the edge of the product. This ensures that even if something goes slightly wrong with the printing, your words will be safe.
6. Rasterize your text
Photoshop allows you to rasterize your text, which means you don’t have to worry about sending specific fonts along with your files to the printer. However, wait to rasterize until after you’re SURE you’re done editing the file. (Once you rasterize, you can’t edit the text anymore.)
7. Use unique filenames
This one is very often forgotten. When you send your files to the printer, use unique names for each file. Use names that are descriptive and make it easy to tell what it is and what it is for.
These seven tips should help you in preparing your files for use with most commercial printers. Always check with your printer before sending a file, though, to make sure everything is in order.
Kaitlyn Miller writes for Printplace.com, an online printing company that offers postcard printing, business cards, posters and more.