Artwork Guidelines

Artwork Guidelines

RGB vs CMYK vs PMS Pantone spot colors...What's the difference?

Watch this short video and learn which color mode is right for you.

Download a Free CMYK Process Color Reference Guide or...
email us your address to (info at and we will mail you a FREE OFFSET PRINTED booklet.

, Artwork Guidelines

What is "bleed"? - Bleed is the section of the artwork that will be cut off when the final printed product is trimmed to the final size. The purpose of which is to continue a background color, image or design all the way to the edge of the card. On our templates, the red lines indicate the bleed section. Please make sure all backgrounds are extended all the way to this line. Bleed size is typically 1/8 of an inch (or 0.125) outside of the final trim size.

Optimal File Specifications

  • Bleeds: all files must have a 1/8″ bleed on each side
  • Safe Area: keep all critical text and artwork inside the trim
  • Colors: supply your files in CMYK color mode if you are printing 4-color process
  • Colors: supply your files with correct Pantone (U or C) colors selected in file.
  • Resolution: 300 dpi
  • Fonts: fonts must be converted to curves/outlines
  • Transparencies: flatten all transparencies
  • File Types: Preferred: PDF, EPS | Also accepted: TIFF or JPEG
  • ICC Profile: Japan Coated 2001

How to Prepare Files for Finishes

If your project includes foil stamping, spot UV, embossing, or die cutting you will need to provide a mask file (per finish) alongside your design files.

Create a black and white pdf file where all black areas have a color value of

K = 100%  (C=0 M=0 Y=0 K=100)

Black areas represent where you want the finish to be located and white means no finish will be applied.

If your project contains more than one finish, you must provide separate mask files for each finish.

, Artwork Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions - Artwork

I would love borders on my banner or sign, is that cool?

Unfortunately, borders are a no-no for printing. Borders are problematic since all substrates vary for each batch. This makes precise cutting almost impossible. For Grand4mat, … Read more

Should I include crop marks on large format orders?

No. Grand4mat is especially designed to trim your file according to custom specifications. Do not include crop marks and other markings that are not supposed … Read more

Should I include any fonts with my files?

No. All fonts must be outlined before uploading your file. And if you are using Adobe Photoshop, you may send the flattened copy.

When and how should I scale my artwork to keep the file in a manageable size?

While scaling your artwork can make it more manageable size-wise, it’s not always required to change size specifications. You should only use smaller scales if … Read more

What size should my text be if I want to view my banner or yard sign from a distance?

Your text size will mostly depend on two factors: desired print size, and the distance you want the text to be readable from. Check out … Read more

What file format is best for large format products?

For Grand4mat, PDF format is recommended. However, the machine can also process other formats like JPG or TIF.

What the heck is cold foil / photo foil?

Using Akuafoil, your wide range of CMYK colors can be turned into multi-colored foils. Akuafoil uses a special processed foil system that is used under … Read more

How do I setup artwork for Foil Stamped product?

Only one type of foil per order can be used (you cannot order a Foil Worx job with Gold on the front and Silver on … Read more

How do I design for products printed on Plastic?

When you design plastic cards you must keep in mind that clear plastic cards and the frosted ones are transparent. Also, plastic cards with round … Read more

How do Pantone Colors affect a 4color Process printed product?

There are three diverse ways Pantone colors can affect the printing of your job. The first is ‘by object effects’, on your Pantone colors (Ex. … Read more

Helpful Information

1. Color Mode

The full-color printing process requires artwork to be saved in four-color CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black)mode. That's because printing presses use 4 plates (one plate for each color) to achieve the final combination of that compose the artwork image.

However, the total black and white artwork or images must be in GRAYSCALE color mode in order to get that full, rich black in the final output. Files in RGB (Red, Green, Blue), as well as Pantone colors, will automatically be converted into CMYK.

2. Fonts

As much as possible, please outline your fonts(in illustrator and inDesign). This is to avoid any font issues when your job is printed. If you are submitting Quark Xpress or InDesign files, please include a font folder containing all the typefaces used in your layout. Please do not use a font size smaller than 8 points. Typically, very small or very thin fonts may not be readable especially when printed against dark or busy backgrounds.

3. Proof Reading

Before submitting your artwork, please check and review all copy/text for typos or misspellings. A PDF will be available for viewing after artwork submissions to provide the opportunity to check everything before your jobs go into print. Once the job is approved, we cannot be responsible for any misprint or errors in the finished print.

4. Resolution

To ensure the best output quality, the minimum resolution for artwork is 300 dpi(dots per inch). Make sure your link files or images (especially in illustrator, QuarkXpress, and InDesign)are in this resolution or higher. Images need to be created at 300dpi or higher to ensure there will not be a substantial drop in quality-typically resulting in blurry images with jagged edges. If you are scanning pictures, please make sure the settings are for a photograph and that the resolution is also 300 dpi or higher.

5. File Size

For files larger than 10MB, we recommended that you compress your file using software programs like WinZip (for Windows) or Stufflt (for Mac). You can also send your artworks by signing up for a free account on We Transfer.

6. Upload Time

Uploading file may take a while depending on the speed of your connection and the size of your artwork. Uploading a 4MB file could take about 5 minutes on a DSL connection. If you are having issues with our uploader, you can always email your files to or use a file sending service like We Transfer.

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