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    Top 10 Design Mistakes and How to Avoid Them!

  • 1) Design not extended to bleed.

  • When you look at our templates, you'll see three different coloured lines. The outermost (red) line corresponds to the bleed. You will want to take your design all the way out to the bleed line. If you only design to the (blue) cut line, you run the risk of the blade falling outside that area with a resulting white paper edge.

  • 2) Wrong colour mode used.

  • RGB stands for Red, Blue, Green and is the colour mode used by computer monitors. This is subtractive colour that comes directly from light: when you add them all together, you get white. We cannot use any files saved in RGB. The spectrum for RGB is much purer and broader than for CMYK which is why we cant get that cool neon RGB blue using CMYK inks, no matter how much we want to.

    CMYK stands for Cyan Magenta Yellow BlacK and is the standard colour mode for 4-colour ink printing presses. This is additive colour that is reflected: when you add the colours together, you get black. Colour images for your print must be saved in CMYK or grayscale (black only) mode.

    If we receive files in RGB mode, we will automatically convert them for you.
    Note that there is a strong possibility that your colour values will shift and the end result may be very different than expected.

    The following example illustrates the separation differences between RGB and CMYK:

    Click here for instructions for converting images from RGB to CMYK.

  • 3) Wrong colour profile used.

  • For optimal colour matching to our printing and proofing system, we strongly recommend that you use the U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 colour profile for all of your Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator files. This will also give you better viewing consistency between programs. If you use this colour profile, you will have the best chance of knowing how your final print will look. Also, if you are concerned about colour, we recommend you request print proofs. Our colour print proofs are at least 90% accurate to the final product appearance.

    Click here for instructions on applying colour profiles.

  • 4) Image resolution too low.

  • All submitted images should be 300 dpi (dots per inch).
    Beware of screen resolution, which is usually around 72 dpi, the number of pixels required to display an image satisfactorily to a computer monitor.
    Print resolution (or the number of pixels required to display an image satisfactorily with ink on paper) is much higher - most printers ask for a resolution of 300 dpi.
    Take a look at the following examples:

    This image will print great at 300 dpi... ...but will print poorly at a lower resolution

    Q: OK, I understand that low resolution is bad. Can I just change my 72 dpi image in Photoshop to 300 dpi by changing the number?

    A: Not exactly. When you *change the number* from a low resolution to 300 dpi, you are not really addressing the underlying problem. Doing this is called interpolation. Interpolation means that you are asking the computer to calculate the pixels that are not there. Computers cannot add new data to sharpen the image, it can only add pixels that fill the gaps. What you end up with is a TIF that is at 300 dpi, but very, very blurry.

    72 dpi Interpolated at 300 dpi

    Q: So how do I fix low resolution?

    A: You need to re-scan your photograph, slide, or transparency at 300 dpi at the final size you want it printed. Photos should be taken using a 200 megapixel camera or better, with the settings at the highest resolution possible.

    Note: When placing images into layout programs like QuarkXPress, Illustrator, or InDesign, be sure not to scale the image up or down much. A 300 dpi image, for example, scaled up 200% will have a final resolution of 150 dpi! Low resolution!

    On the other hand, do not overcompensate by making your image resolution too high. It is overkill to have images at 600 dpi, for instance. It not only makes file sizes significantly larger, it also may create problems with final printing. Again, 300 dpi is the optimal resolution for raster images.

  • 5) Files not designed with Pantone (PMS) colours.

  • We silkscreen using Pantone Solid Coated Spot inks. The best way to view these colours is in a Pantone Formula Guide book, which can be found (purchased or just viewed) at an art supply store. You will need to apply the spot swatches to your artwork before submitting files, in a program and format that will retain the swatch information. The best programs to do this are Illustrator, InDesign and QuarkXpress. Note that even though Photoshop has a Pantone library, the file is still saved as RGB or CMYK.

    As an alternative, we can print a CMYK image using four-colour-process (at a larger cost due to a longer press set-up time) however the print is usually not as crisp.

    Click here for instructions on applying spot colours to your disc face design.

  • 6) CMYK blacks are too rich.

  • In order for prints intended to be a rich black in colour, you will need to set your CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black) values accordingly:

    • C = 60%
    • M = 50%
    • Y = 50%
    • K = 100%

    Do not use values any higher than those listed above, as the inks become too saturated on the printing press and can obliterate thin lines and text. If you want any small white text or other fine details to print cleanly, you must keep your total CMYK ink values under 300%.

    Note: Black values that appear on your screen may actually be vastly different when printed:

    Click here for instructions on how to set CMYK black values.

    Click here to learn how to determine total CMYK ink values.

  • 7) Missing image files or fonts.

  • We need all of the elements used in your design, not just the layout / template files. Images in Illustrator and InDesign should always be linked, not embedded and those linked images supplied along with your layout files. We also need every font used in your design, including screen and printer fonts.

    If any elements are missing, your job will be placed on hold until we receive them.

  • 8) Files not in saved with cut lines for Summa Cutter / CNC.

  • Some jobs require special profiles to be cut once printed or silk-screened, If we receive artwork without vector lines perferably on a layer of their own you will be asked to supply new art files or have us create the new art at an extra charge. Your job will be placed on hold until we receive new files containing cut lines.

  • 9) Text created using Photoshop.

  • If you are going to create your text in Photoshop, please be aware that Photoshop is a raster-based program and will print text less crisp than using vector-based programs like Illustrator, InDesign or Quark. At high resolution, it should not cause legibility problems, though the smaller the letter the more likely you are to have visibility problems.

    See example text below for comparison:


  • 10) Design different than original quote.

  • If we receive files that do not match up with your quote, your job will be placed on hold so a new quote can be generated. The most common situation is when a job is quoted for 3 spot colours, and we receive files in CMYK, which makes the job 5 colour (4 colours + white base). There is an extra charge for CMYK jobs. See #5 above for information on applying spot colours to your files.

    If you have any questions, give us a call and we'll be happy to assist you.