Printing-related tips & technical guidelines for litho & digital printing as well as artwork preparation.

Useful Tips

Here are some useful tips and technical guidelines relating to printing and artwork preparation. You can also download an Acrobat PDF containing all of the tips although, of course, do always feel free to contact us if you have any queries and we’ll be happy to help.

Proofs

With digital printing facilities available in-house at Firstpoint Print Victoria, supplying a digitally printed proof of your artwork before committing to the full print run is a breeze and is also thoroughly recommended. However digital proofs are only a guide as there are many factors which may alter the hue and saturation of the colours in the final printed piece. For example different papers, finishes and coatings can and do affect colours so this needs to be borne in mind. Of course, we will advise where appropriate and are happy to discuss any potential issues in good time.

Colour

For ‘full colour’ work it’s always best to set up your graphics, photos, colours and artwork in ‘CMYK’ mode. CMYK refers to the four ‘process’ colours of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK (which use a K rather than a B to avoid being misunderstood as blue) which allow full colour photos to be printed.

Colour spaces explained - RGB, CMYK and spot colour.
In contrast, the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) mode for photos and graphics is really intended for screen presentations such as websites. So if you have any RGB images or graphics in your artwork for print, be aware that we can convert them when printing on our digital printing presses (although a colour shift will occur) but for litho printing an automatic conversion at our end is not possible so RGB images could cause real problems in the final printed results. So, ideally, great care needs to be taken to convert them to CMYK before handing over artwork files.

Spot colour work, which is only possible using the litho presses, gives the most accurate colours of all but bear in mind that for every spot colour used in the job a new plate will be required — so this can affect the final price of your printing.

Of course, we would also be happy to produce your design and artwork for you if you’d rather not worry about such technical issues.

Bleed

If your design has any graphics, photos, background colours or text which goes to the very edge of the printed sheet, your artwork will need to include an extra 3mm of ‘bleed’ at the edges. This means that you need to extend those items by a further 3mm beyond the edges of the sheet. This allows a tolerance for error and ‘page creep’ in the final guillotining process where the larger uncut sheets are cut down to the final printed size. The result is that you will have no unsightly and unintended white borders to the items which run past the edge.
Add 3mm of bleed to your artwork where colours or images print to the paper edges.
All digital artwork files should also include crop marks please.

If you have any queries just call us on 020 7828 0515 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to help.

Fonts

Unless handled properly, fonts can cause real issues in artwork and print. Our recommendations, therefore, are to either embed the fonts in your artwork (the entire font or a ‘subset’) or convert the fonts to ‘outlines’ (vectors) before saving the final job. If choosing the latter method it’s also wise to save a duplicate of the job before outlining the text otherwise you may not be able to later edit the text should you spot a subsequent ‘typo’.
Artwork checklist - preparing fonts, checking colour space, adding bleed, use of transparency, resolution and PDF settings.
Let us know if you have any queries and we’ll be happy to talk you through any technical issues such as the use of fonts in artwork, or alternatively our creative team can supply design and artwork for you if you’d rather not have to deal with such matters directly. Firstpoint Print Victoria can be reached on 020 7828 0515.

Resolution

Resolution refers to the number of pixels (or dots) per inch used in a photo or graphic and this has a direct impact on the quality of the final print. The industry standard resolution required for images is 300dpi (dots per inch) which equates to 118dpc (dots per centimetre). If images are supplied at resolutions lower than this, they will at best appear ‘soft’ and at worst the image pixels will show in the actual printing, which would not look good.

Hence images taken from the internet are usually unsuitable for professional printing because web images usually have a resolution of only 72dpi.

We should also mention that artwork generated through desk-top applications such as Word and PowerPoint may well lead to problems and inferior printed results because such applications were not intended to be used for professional graphics and artwork. Instead, professional designers and printers use high-end applications like Adobe InDesign and Quark Express amongst others.

If you need any further guidance feel free to call us on 020 7828 0515 or contact us here.

Size

Firstpoint Print Victoria can print anything from a small label or business card right up to enormous display graphics used, for example, in exhibitions and store displays. In fact, our large format printers can print up to 1000mm in width by pretty much any length, within reason.

Our digital printing presses can print onto stock up to SRA3 in size (320mm x 450mm) but remember that this also needs to include crop marks and any bleed.

Our litho printing presses can print on large paper and card sizes so this gives both flexibility and cost efficiency — more than one copy can be printed at the same time, making longer print runs in particular much more economical.

Format

Like most professional printers, we prefer Acrobat PDF format for artwork files, which should be set to either the ‘PDF/X-3:2002’ or ‘Press Quality’ preset.

For litho printing including spot colours, please use the ‘PDF/X-1a:2001’ setting.

Alternatively you may supply native files from Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator or QuarkXPress (to v7) so long as all images are included/embedded and fonts are included or – better still – outlined as we explain earlier in the fonts section. The ‘Package’ or ‘Collect for output’ options in InDesign and Quark Xpress respectively can be very useful to automate this process. Be aware that any missing images will print at a very low quality, if at all.

One last option is to supply EPS (encapsulated PostScript) files. However care should be taken to ‘maintain vector data’ for any text, particularly if the EPS was generated by Adobe Photoshop.

As always, if you have any technical queries just call us on 020 7828 0515 or contact us here and we’ll be happy to help or indeed to supply design and artwork for you if you prefer.

Transparency

When using transparency in your design and artwork, including drop shadow and translucency effects, there are a few golden rules to follow.

  • Firstly, never use transparency with spot colours.
  • Secondly, always make sure that any text is positioned on top of the transparency effect.
  • Lastly, remember to choose the Medium preset to flatten the transparency on the final PDF output.

For any queries just call us on 020 7828 0515 or contact us here. We also have an in-house creative team who can alternatively supply design and artwork if you prefer.

Download all our helpful tips as a PDF