You can save a great deal of time and money by checking your artwork before submitting it. Every day, we review many artwork files, and often discover problems that need to be addressed before we can print the labels. Avoid these mistakes, and your labeling will be much faster and more economical.
To help you understand the issues that arise with artwork, look over the following mistakes. Then download our exclusive checklist as a guide for your artwork submissions. You can also share this information with your designer to make sure our label printing efforts are compatible.
1. Unsupported Software Format
Although designers can use dozens of different software programs to create label designs, they must use the graphic industry standard programs: Adobe Illustrator and support programs such as Photoshop for the images. Adobe Illustrator can create high- quality vector art that will produce the best quality product label. Vector graphics are made of points and lines related to each other to form polygons, which are then filled with colors, tints, or gradients. If you want professional results with minimum hassle, tell your designers to provide vector files.
2. Incorrectly Sized Artwork
We often receive artwork where the size of the art does not match the size that our customer is requesting for a finished product. To prevent that issue, it is very critical to set the artboard size with 0.0625” (1/16”) bleed to the final label size in Illustrator.
3. Missing Tooling & White Ink Layers
When submitting artwork, the designer should provide the layered files with toolings–Foil, Emboss/Deboss, High Build Varnish, and Overprint. Also, black and metallized materials require WHITE ink layers.
4. Missing Graphics / Links
When we open a file there may be missing graphics or image links. That’s why it’s important to be sure to include all graphics/links used with the artwork when submitting it. Or you may embed the images. This results in a larger file size, so be sure the images are at 300-400 dpi @ 100%.
5. Missing Fonts
This is a common problem with the artwork. Always provide the fonts that are used by collect/package through Illustrator. Or outline/convert to paths the text before sending us the artwork files. Please keep in mind that we cannot make changes to the text if it is converted to Outline.
6. Missing Bleeds
For the color to print all the way to the edge of the product, designers need to include a bleed. For example, if they want to print a 3” x 5” label, the size of the artwork they would create would be 3.125” x 5.125”. Also, they need to leave some space around the very edge of the product that is free of text. That gives us the ability, during die-cutting/cutting the material, to drift ever so slightly (up to 1/32”) for the bleed.
7. Missing Type Clearance / Tight Borders
Although printing technology has advanced a great deal, there is still some very slight movement when printing and die-cutting labels. While this movement is only a very small fraction of an inch, if the border is near the edge of the product it will be noticeable. Our advice, if you really want a border, is to make it a thick one (more than 4 point). That way the slight movement will be much less noticeable.
8. Color Expectations
Many people create their label artwork and then print it out on their inkjet or laser printer, thinking this is how their labels will look. If there’s a sample to match, we recommend requesting a digital press so we can see exactly what your labels will look like when printed on our HP digital presses. For flexo presses, we recommend requiring “ink-draw-downs” onto the final substrates.
RGB vs CMYK
Most digital color printers today (including your little desktop inkjet) print in CMYK, also known as four-color process. However, all computer monitors display color as RGB (Red-Green-Blue). Now if they create a file for the RGB color space, the color is going to look different when printed on a CMYK printer, so it is always a good idea to create the artwork as CMYK.
9. Improper File Resolution
Very often we receive a file of a picture or graphic that was on a website and we are expected to create a nice-looking label from it. In most cases, the file on the website is a very low resolution—often as low as 72 dpi. We know if we print a file at that resolution, it is going to look terrible. We recommend a resolution of 300-400dpi @ 100% for best results.
10. Spelling & Typing Mistakes
While we will sometimes catch these mistakes, it is up to customers to check their artwork carefully. They can save any disappointments and expense by spending extra time making sure all the text is correct.
Ready to make things easier? Simply download our 10-point checklist for artwork submissions.
Contributed by Robin Kim, AWT Pre-Press Manager