Considerations When Supplying Your Artwork For Printing

There a few things that are unique to designing for print. Whether you find them interesting or a huge pain in the side, they exist and they need to be addressed to get the best results from your print and business. We've gone through the most common issues when creating artwork for print and explained how to overcome them to ensure you get the best possible results from your design.

Color System

The standard color system for printing is CMYK and when setting up your document you will need to select CMYK over RGB. The range (or gamut) of CMYK is a lot smaller than RGB due to the number of colors produced by ink not being as high as the light from your monitor. So, creating artwork in RGB runs the risk of using a color outside of the printable gamut of most printers. Bright fluorescent colors will change drastically and become very flat and dull, so best to avoid.

If you are printing with lithographic and with spot colors such as Pantone, then the gamut will be increased to accommodate this color system. Pantone inks can come ready-mixed or can be mixed by a printer to match a specific color. Any spot colors in your artwork would need to be labelled up as such so they can be identified. If you run a four-color CMYK job with a Pantone color, then extra costs may incur.

Document And Image Size

Here at Aura Print, we offer almost any custom size as well as any standard size such as letter size flyers, half letter etc. We would be happy to discuss any ideas you may have and we can go over any technicalities or restrictions that there may be.

Any document would need to be supplied to the size ordered, or in the case of large format print, to a scale such as 25%. For any small format print such as business cards, the artwork needs to be supplied at 300dpi at 100% scale.

If you are struggling with images, then please email us at and we may be able to help. We have access to a large image library or we can advise on where you can get some free images to browse yourself – it is your business after all.

Adding Bleed To A Document

Print Bleed – Please Don’t Forget!

Print bleed is essentially needed to give the printer room for slight movement. To explain this, we can start with exactly what bleed is. Bleed is running any elements that touch the edge of the page, past the artboard to the desired point. The amount can vary depending on the product, so get in touch and we can advise you on this.

For example, if you are setting up a half letter flyer. Any images or color that reach the edge of the page would need to be extended past this point up until the bleed area guide.

All machinery obviously has a tolerance, this includes our printers and guillotines. So, if we had our Flyer with a solid blue background, full coverage but with no bleed, and our guillotines cut a tiny 0.0098 inch out. Then you will end up with a solid, thin – yet very noticeable – white trim line down one edge.

Going back to tolerances, when printing digital, keep all text within a 0.15 inch margin from the edge. With litho you could push to 0.06 inch but we would still advise a minimum of 0.12 inch. If we get to design your artwork then expect a large margin, because margins are glorious.

File Types And Other Tips

At Aura Print, we prefer to accept PDF or JPEG formats as these are the easiest to work with and usually cause the least problems. When writing out a PDF, make sure PDF (Print) is selected and not PDF (Interactive). Also exporting under PDFX/1A will give us the best chance of having no issues.

Then under Marks and Bleed, select Trim Marks and Use Document Bleed Settings will place the bleed on the artwork and give us the trim lines to crop down to. We can place trim lines and sometimes the bleed onto the artwork for you at no extra cost but this may slow down your order so anything you can do prior to sending the artwork gives us the best chance to meet your deadline.

If you have the software and ability, then outlining all fonts within the document also safeguards against fonts changing when printed. Issues have come about when a font has not displayed correctly at our end and the print has been incorrect. There was nothing we could have done to amend this as we had no prior knowledge of the font displaying incorrectly until the customer received the product. Outlining fonts will eradicate any chances of there being an issue.

There's Black, And Then There's Black

When printing black, there are things to be taken into consideration that at first make little sense. But printing a color make-up in CMYK of 0-0-0-100 – so 100% black only – will not give you a solid jet black.

In light, it looks a very dark grey, as though washed out. We would suggest for a solid black background a CMYK make-up of 30-20-20-100. The extra 10% Cyan will help balance out the two warm colors of Magenta and Yellow and give a very nice solid jet black.

Other common make-ups are 40-0-0-100, 40-40-40-100, 70-40-40-100, and we imagine there will be many more. Bear in mind, the more coverage you apply, the harder it is to dry the ink and this can cause ink saturation. As a general rule, 280% coverage is the max, but we would advise 260%.

Any large type can also be done with this make-up, though anybody copy can be left at 100% black.

Painted Edge Business Cards

Consider Adding A Custom Print Finish

Painted edge business cards make your branding pop, especially if you choose bright vivid colors that contrast with the background of your design. We can also die cut custom shapes for your flyers or cards as well as many other fancy print finishes such as spot uv gloss business cards that will add depth to your design. 

To see examples, head to our blog amazing business card finishes for luxury branding


Below are a set of terms you may hear a printer use. It might be good to familiarize yourself with their meanings:

What Is A Print Bleed?

Refers to the printing that goes beyond the edge of the page and is used to ensure coverage goes right to the edge after trimming.

What Is PDFX1/A?

Common PDF profile for outputting print.

What's Meant By DPI / PPI?

Dots Per Inch / Pixels Per Inch. They essentially mean the same thing, though dots refer to print and pixels refers to on-screen. DPI is the number of individual dots of ink within an inch square. The more dots, the higher the resolution. Same applies for PPI.

For a more detailed explanation see our blog What is DPI?

What Is A Pantone Reference?

Possibly the most common color system used. It has a large library of colors that can be matched to a swatch book so long as the printer has the correct swatch.

What Is Process Printing?

Refers to the four colors used in CMYK printing: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (Black). A color in process will be made up using these or a combination.

Do you have more questions about getting your artwork print-ready? Email us at :