Common Design Mistakes
1 - COLOR ISSUES
To avoid color issues, first make sure your files are converted to CMYK. Do not use RGB colors or Pantones. Despite seeing no differences on screen, the printing difference is drastic and it can make or break your design!
Because we cannot control the color reproduction of a customer's computer monitor, we cannot guarantee that the actual print color will precisely match the preview appearing on your monitor. CMYK printing can sometimes be unpredictable. Although minor color variation may occur, it's the most precise way to predict how colors will print.
Variation in color throughout the same job is normal and may not be avoided with some color tones, particularly on large solid areas. A color variation of 5%-10% is normal. Many factors may affect the colors, such as paper's texture, lamination and coating. For more consistent colors, you may want to chose similar papers and finishes for all your printed material.
BLUE TURNS OUT PURPLE
Blue is close to purple in the CMYK spectrum. Remember to use a low amount of magenta whenever using high amounts of cyan to avoid purple. When using a blue in your design, always make sure to leave at least a 30% difference in your Cyan and Magenta values.
100% black (C: 0, M: 0, Y: 0, K: 100) is great for that crisp black text. However 100% black doesn’t look great when used as a background colour, with it looking more like a dark grey than black. Instead you might opt for a “rich black”. Our recommendation is C: 60, M: 40, Y: 40, K: 100 for offset printing.
2 - BLEED & SAFETY ZONE BLEED
The bleed refers to printing that goes beyond the edge of the sheet before trimming. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. Artwork should extend into the bleed area. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document. There should be at least 1/16" bleed around the perimeter of your artwork to ensure accurate cutting (e.g., artwork for a 4" x 6" card should be 4.125" x 6.125").
Please keep all text at least 0.125" inside the cut-line to avoid any important elements being trimmed.
3 - BORDERS
In order to get the best result possible, we do not recommend having a thin border around the edges of your cards. Since the trimming process has a tolerance of up to 1/16”, we highly recommend that your border be at a minimum of 3/16” (0.18") from the edges. Otherwise the border on your card may appear uneven or off-centered.
4 - TEXT SIZE & QUICK RESPONSE (QR) CODES
Make sure the size of your text is large enough to be readable. Test it by printing a proof on your laser or inkjet printer. A limit of 6pt text size is the rule of thumb, but it all depends on the style of your typeface. Keep this in mind when setting any small print within your designs. If you want white text knocked-out of a black background, make sure it is bold enough to be easily readable. If the text is too thin, the text may print blurred. This will happen because of ink-bleed and possible slight misalignment of printing plates.
Quick Response codes can be a nice addition to your design but make sure it will print large enough to be scanned by all mobile phones. You should test all QR codes before uploading your files. We do not test QR codes before printing.
5 - FONT ISSUES
When text is created in Adobe Illustrator, it’s a good idea to convert all text to outlines before exporting as a PDF. Doing this removes any future potential problems from the finalizing process.
6 - TRANSPARENCY & OVERPRINT
This check looks for objects that have a transparent color applied to them. Objects with transparent colors print unpredictably to PostScript and PCL printers. Any transparency issues can be resolved before saving your file. To prevent this, never use shadows, glows, or any other transparency (image or otherwise) on top of a spot color. Always convert your spot color to CMYK and flatten before sending.
Primarily used to intentionally overlap inks for a number of reasons, overprint can cause unexpected results. We suggest that you turn all overprint objects off before submitting your files. Unexpected results may occur if you have accidentally set certain objects to overprint. Always check logos and other artwork before submitting.
7 - RASTERIZE VS. VECTOR & RESOLUTION
RASTER VS VECTOR
Raster images are made of pixels. Vector images are mathematical calculations from one point to another that form geometrical shapes. Vector file such as EPS, AI and PDF* are excellent for printing and will allow your text and logo to look sharper. You can use a raster file such as a JPG or TIFF for printing but there will be a loss of quality.
*A PDF is generally a vector file. However, depending how a PDF is originally created, it can be either a vector or a raster file. Whether you opt to flatten the layers of your file or choose to retain each one will determine the image type.
If your artwork is rasterized, image resolution for print need to be 300 pixels per inch (ppi). The common mistake is using a 72 dots per inch (dpi) image instead of one that is 300 ppi or higher. Another common mistake is using a 72 dpi image that originated on the internet, and using it for print by enlarging it.
8 - ROTATION
We require print ready files with proper rotation. Files submitted are printed HEAD to HEAD as-is based off your files. Make sure to set up your files so that when we print them HEAD to HEAD the final product will read the way you would like. Also, front and back files need to be set up either both sides vertically or both sides horizontally.
9 - CRACKING
Cracking of the edges of a business card sometimes occurs when the card contains high values of ink, as in dark colors. This usually happens on a small amount of cards in the run. To prevent this, use lighter colors or if you must use dark colors, use as little ink as possible. When a job is coated with UV then scored and folded the job may begin to crack.
During use, the cracks will become bigger and the ink may start to chip off. Cracking is normal when coated jobs are scored and folded. Ordering the job without UV will help but may not prevent this. As the job is used and folded more and more, cracking will eventually happen.
10 - BANDING
Many things can cause banding. Banding can be caused by the program that it is exported from, such as Indesign or Corel. Also, too many gradient steps, for example going from a very light color to a dark color, in a small area will cause banding. To prevent this, check your digital files before sending. If you use a gradient, make sure it has enough room for a smooth transition. Sometimes, banding is inevitable on very large surface like a full color background on a presentation folder for example.