Saturday, February 11, 2012

Prepare my business card artwork for PDF (Bleed and Crop Marks) for perfect printing - CorelDRAW 12 and Adobe Illustrator CS3

Most people in today's digital world already use some type of graphic software and have some idea of how to put together a business card, flyer, brochure or postcard with with no, or little, problem. The problem is their work is unfinished - unfinished meaning their artwork does not have any needed 'Bleed' values and/or 'Crop Marks' on the PDF. Both bleed values and crop marks are needed in printing so the printer knows exactly how to handle and cut your product. Have you ever wondered why the graphics are not centered or something important is cut off? The reason is because you, through your artwork have allowed the printers to have thousands of options and ways to print your product. So, basically, it is a gamble to send your artwork to the printers without any bleed values and/or crop marks.

Bleed Values:Bleed values are needed in order for the printers to print 'Beyond' your product size - in result, the the edges of your products are printed with your graphics and colors and not some white line showing up on the face of your printing product. If there is no bleed in the file, the printing shop might or usually 'Stretches' the file to the bleed in order to print beyond the entire product. This may function for you, unless of course, the stretch process stretches your important text/graphics and then cuts it off or the artwork is not centered in your end product. Printers have very limited control of the out come without bleed values. I will explain to you quick and easy ways to add bleed values to your artwork.
Crop Marks:Crop marks are needed for printers to align and center your product and most importantly, where to cut your product. There can be thousands of ways to place your product on the printing plates and thousands of ways to cut your product without crop marks. Using crop marks on your PDF, there is only ONE way to place and cut your product. The odds of "one" are best

CorelDRAW 12 - Instructions for Bleed and Crop Marks
Most people who read this will already have their artwork done, so let's move on to make the project flawless with any printer shop. A standard business card is dimensioned at 2" x 3.5" -  this will also be the 'Paper Type/Size of your Corel project in both Method 1 and 2 below. Next is the bleed. At this point, it is important to know the bleed value of your printer shop - some are .25" and really good printer shops are .125".
In CorelDRAW 12, there are 2 ways to create bleed.
Method 1 - (Ex. Business Card - finished size: 2" X 3.5" with bleed of .125": 2.125" X 3.625")
Add bleed to you output print settings. Go into File, Print Preview, Settings, Layout - Check mark the 'Bleed Limit'. Keep in mind that you just can't type in the bleed value into the field. You have to think: The Corel bleed value extends on all 4 sides if the project - If you enter in a bleed vaule of .125", you will have .125" on the top, .125" on the bottom, .125" on the left and .125" on the right. So if you do the math: business card dimension 2" x 3.5". Height: 2" + .125" +.125" = 2.25" Wrong! Width - 3.5" + .125" + .125" = Wrong again! You will have to take the bleed value that the printer shop gives you (ex. .125") and then divide it by 2 (for two sides) = .0625 This is correct! So enter in .0625" into the 'Bleed Limit' field and press 'apply' and 'OK'.
Note: Add guidelines to your project that don't get printed. This will give you a 'Guideline' as to where NOT to put your important text or graphics. With a bleed of .125 the guidelines need to offset the business card dimension by .0625" which is .125"/2 since we have two sides.  So, the guidelines dimension vertically would be for example: -.0625", 0.0", .0625", 1.375", 2.0", 2.0625". Horizontally is: -.0625", 0.0", .0625", 2.9375", 3.0", 3.0625".
Crop Marks:
Go in File, Print Preview, Settings, Prepress. Check mark the 'Crop/foldmarks' and 'Exterior only'. Press 'Apply' and 'OK'. You now have crop marks on your PDF. Publish to PDF - Done.
Method 2 - make your image sizes to the bleed value. Example: 2.125" x 3.625". All we did here was add the bleed value .125 to the width and height of the images. Once you center your images, you now have bleed.
Note: Add guidelines to your project that don't get printed. This will give you a 'Guideline' as to where NOT to put your important text or graphics. With a bleed of .125 the guidelines need to offset the business card dimension by .0625" which is .125"/2 since we have two sides.  So, the guidelines dimension vertically would be for example: -.0625", 0.0", .0625", 1.375", 2.0", 2.0625". Horizontally is: -.0625", 0.0", .0625", 2.9375", 3.0", 3.0625".
Add your Crop Marks as explained above. Publish to PDF - Done.
Adobe Illustrator CS3 - Instructions for Bleed and Crop Marks
1. Set the Document Setup dimensions to 3.625" X 2.125"
2. Align all your images to the dimensions above. (keep in mind the Safety Margin. All important text should be in the window of 1.875" X 3.375"). It is good practice to use 'Guidelines' offset-ed .0625 of all 4 sides "IN" of the B-Card size of 2" X 3.5".
3. Re-Set the Document setup dimensions back to 3.5" X 2.0" and leave the images as they are in step 1. This step will leave the needed Bleed to print perfectly to the edges and the Crop Marks will come in at the document setup dimensions of 3.5" X 2.0".
4. Align some of the graphics IF required.
5. Save as PDF - Preset to "Press". Marks and Bleeds Tab, "All Printer Marks" will be selected and set to Bleed to zero, because no matter how much you play with the bleed, no effect seems to be the result.

- About the Author:
Rodrigo J. Ramirez Current Status: Owner of Matrix Developers Inc - Printing


3 comments:

Sandy Doank said...

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Augusta Tina said...

It is really a great and useful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing. Business Logo Designers

Sweet Fairy said...

Nice post with great details. This will help me so much while designing my plastic business cards. Thanks for sharing.