Artwork Guidelines For Print

In the print-world, the way you create and save your logo, custom label design or other artwork is everything.

So if you think that a) CMYK is some strange texting lingo, b) you have to stab your artwork to get it to "bleed properly", or c) a rasterized image is picture of Bob Marley and the Lion of Judah, then this is the guide for you.

this is the place for custom labels

We'll cover:

  • Artwork Sizing and Bleeds
  • CMYK and Colors
  • File Formats
  • Outlining Text/Fonts

Step-By-Step Artwork Guide:

Here's the step-by-step breakdown of's artwork requirements. First, we'll tell you what the terms mean and why they're important. Second, we'll explain how to do them.

step 1: submit your artwork to size

1. Please submit your artwork at the exact size and with the correct bleeds if necessary.

This tricky step one actually has two parts to it. We'll break them down. Submitting your artwork at the exact size: This one is pretty self-explanatory. For example, if you are using a 2" x 3" rectangle label, your artwork should be created on a 2" x 3" canvas.

How to do this: Open your artwork editing software (e.g. photoshop, illustrator, paint, etc.) and create a NEW project. Your software will ask you what size project/canvas to create. Make sure you are set to inches and put 2 for the width and 3 for the height.

Use the correct bleeds: This one can seem confusing, but it's actually quite simple. The bleed is how much extra wiggle room you give your artwork outside where the label is cut (fyi: the label edge is called the dieline). For example, a 2" x 3" label that needs artwork to print to the very edge of the label would need the artwork to add an extra "bleed area." Typical bleeds are 1/8" (0.125").

So to add a bleed area to your label, you simply extend your artwork 0.125" past the edges of the label. This way your art is sure to print to the edge of the label.

How to do this: Open a NEW project in your editing software. When creating your canvas, simply add 0.125" to both the width and height. For the 2" x 3" rectangle example, you would need to make sure the measurements are set to inches and put 2.125" for the width and 3.125" for the height. Note: As you create your artwork, make sure to remember that the outer 0.125" of the artwork will not print entirely, but are there to ensure that your artwork covers the edges.

2. Use the CMYK Color Model

What it means: This one is technical & tricky. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key. Three of those you can probably guess (Cyan=Blue, Magenta=Pink/Red, Yellow=Yellow), but what's "Key" you might ask? Quite simply Key=Black. It's called "Key," because it functions as the key plate, which adds depth and contrast to the print job. For our purposes, you just need to know that it's black. When the printer prints in CMYK, it breaks your entire image down into tiny dots in only these four colors and puts them extremely close together to create the perceived final colors. Now that you know CMYK means there are four colors that will be printed, how do you use this?

How to do this: Your computer screen will always display in RGB color, so when you're designing, you have to double check that you create artwork that is in CMYK, since that's how the printers print. In your artwork editing software, make sure your document is set to CMYK color mode before you begin designing. Then only use CMYK color swatches. This will ensure your artwork prints the exact color you need it to print. Note: Only more advanced softwares such as the Adobe Suite or Corel Draw have CMYK color modes.

Now if you're not too picky about the exact shade of the color in your artwork and can tolerate it being slightly different then what you see on your screen, ignore this step.

3. We accept: .pdf, .eps, .tiff, .ai, .indd, .psd or .jpeg files. NOT .gif or .png.

This group of acceptable files encompasses two types of images/artwork: Raster and Vector. Raster: An image defined by pixels. It may be able to scale some, but is restricted by the resolution of the image. Vector:Line-art that is scale-able to infinity. File format definitions:

  • .PDF - Print format of an image or document. Easily viewed and printed to size.
  • .eps - Encapsulated post-script: basically, this is a format that captures all of the information in a piece of artwork so it can be used in different graphic design programs or on printers.
  • .tiff - Tagged image file format: this format stores a lot of data for raster (flat) images and is ideal for physical pictures and not computer drawings or text.
  • .ai - Adobe illustrator: this is a file created in adobe illustrator and ideally holds all of the vector outlines of a drawing or piece of artwork. It's fully editable in adobe illustrator.
  • .indd - Adobe indesign: this is a file created in adobe indesign and is fully editable in this software. It works very well with artwork that contains a lot of text.
  • .psd - Photoshop document: this is a file created in photoshop that contains the layers of the photoshop document. Typically this format does not work well with vector graphics.
  • .jpeg - A photo-compressing format. This file format sets the size of a flattened image.

.PNG and .GIF are both web formats that are not usable for printing.

How to do this: When you finish creating your artwork select export or save as. Then simply choose one of these acceptable file formats at the highest quality possible.

4. Outline your fonts if you are using .ai or .eps files

Typically this applies to artwork created in Adobe Illustrator or similar vector-based softwares. In order for the font to print correctly, the printer must be able to read its outlines.

How to do this: In Illustrator (or other softwares) select the text. Then go to the "type" menu and select "create outlines." Make sure to do this for each text area that you have in your artwork.

And there you have it. If you follow these guidelines, you'll be able to save massive amounts of time and headache. You'll probably save a ton of money as well. If you have any further questions about your specific label artwork, give us a call at 800.750.7764. You can also click here to get a quick, free online custom label quote: