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Printing: What Is Bleed?

Printing: What Is Bleed?
17 February 2023
Printing: What Is Bleed?

What Is Bleed In Printing

You’ve sent us your design files and have received your digital proof from our design team. But what’s this in their email? They’re asking for a printed bleed area on your artwork. You may be wondering, what is bleed in printing and how much bleed for print do I need to add to my artwork? No need to fret as this blog is designed to answer any questions you may have about what is printing bleed. Continue reading to learn about bleed settings for print and how you can adjust your design files to get the best possible outcome from our print studio.

What Is Printing Bleed?

The bleed area in printing is an additional printed area around the edges of your artwork that is designed to be cut off within the production process. Wait, hang on – if the printed bleed is designed to be cut off then why do we ask for bleed for printing on your design files?

Why Do I Need To Add Bleed To My Files?

We’d love to say that our printing process is flawless, but this is simply not the case. Within the production process, both the paper and the machines have the potential to move slightly, which results in differences between each print. Any movement in the print will have moved your artwork away from the edge of the paper so that when it is cut to size, a white line will form between your print design’s end and the edge of the sheet of paper.

Artwork without bleed has a white line along the edge once cut

Adding bleed to your files helps to combat any discrepancies that may arise due to print movement tolerances.

How Much Bleed For Print?

For most of our printed products, we require 2mm bleed for printing along each edge of the design. Bleed for large format printing is different to small format, as banners and boards tend to be larger in size and so require more bleed. We recommend 5mm bleed for panels under 2.4 metres in size and 10mm bleed for panels above 2.4 metres in size.

Other bespoke products require 3mm bleed for printing. Our team will let you know whether the product you have selected requires 3mm bleed for printing if you are unsure.

How To Add Bleed For Print

The program you choose to create your artworks with will determine the way you can add bleed for print. Here is a brief rundown of the different ways to add a bleed area for printing:

Photoshop and Canva will require you to calculate your own bleed area into the complete size. To do this, take the size of your finished cut artwork and add 4mm to the height and width. This will give you an additional 2mm bleed on all sides of your artwork. For example, if you would be liking a 210mm x 148mm flyer, your file should be set up at 214mm x 152mm to account for bleed.

Adobe Illustrator and InDesign have the option to add a bleed line around the edges of your artboard. To add bleed, enter 2mm into the bleed settings for print section within the new file tab or select file > document setup > and input the bleed where shown. A red line will now appear around the edge of your artboard as the bleed.

Adding bleed to paintings and drawings is not as simple compared to digital artworks. We recommend keeping any important parts of your designs within a safe zone away from the edge to prevent anything from being trimmed off when set up for print.

How To Add Bleed For Print Examples

Now that you know why bleed is required and how much bleed for print is needed, you can adjust your designs to fit into this additional area. Let’s have a look at some different examples of how your designs can be adjusted to include bleed.

Our first example is a design with a simple background meeting the edges of the paper. This type of design is the easiest type of design to add bleed to. All you need to do is extend the background to be 2mm wider to touch the trim line.

The next example shows an illustrated design that is touching the edges of the artboard. To add a bleed area, the design needs to be adjusted to continue smoothly past the edges of the paper to touch the edge of the bleed.

Our last example shows a photograph that meets the edge of the page. There are two possible ways to adjust this artwork for bleed. The first is to make more of the photo visible along the edges. The second is to scale the photo up to meet the bleed.

3 methods of correctly adding bleed to artwork

Bleed vs No Bleed Printing

Knowing how to add bleed to artwork is helpful but what about how not to add bleed? We often receive files that claim to have a printed bleed but upon closer inspection this is simply not the case. There are three common bleed mistakes that we regularly see here in the studio:

No1. Bleed does not match the surrounding design

Probably the most common bleed mistake is the bleed area not matching the rest of the design. Your bleed area should be a smooth continuation of the final cut print, if it is not, any print movement will be obvious once your designs are cut. Adding a coloured border within the bleed is not suitable bleed and will be rejected by our studio.

No2. Design doesn’t meet the bleed line

It is quite easy to save out a design with dedicated bleed space while also forgetting to extend the design into this area. Designs that stop short of the bleed have an incomplete bleed and can run into the same issues as designs without bleed.

No3. Printers’ marks eat into the bleed

Make sure that when saving out your Adobe PDF that the printers marks are touching the bleed line and not the artboard edge. Crop marks touching the artboard each appear within the bleed, cutting into the artwork.

3 examples of incorrect bleed

Help With Bleed In Printing

Adding bleed to your designs is easier said than done. Which is why we are here to help you to get your designs print ready. If you’re ever unsure about your artwork, drop us an email and a member of our team will be in touch.

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