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How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator: Design Tips Post #5

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

The  Design Tips Mini-Series is an 8-week installment of useful design knowledge curated directly from our team of designers at LabelValue.com. We feature helpful hints and design software tips to help you in the process of designing great labels!

How to set up document bleeds in adobe illustrator

If you missed our previous posts, you can view them here:

For Part 5 of our Design Mini-Series our focus will be on artwork bleeds. Our design department deals with artwork daily from a variety of clients. A question that is often brought up concerns document bleeds and how to set them up correctly.

In this week’s tutorial we will go over what exactly is a document bleed, when to use them, and how to set up a bleed using Adobe Illustrator. View our other artwork tips to get a more in-depth look at what we require for print-ready artwork: LabelValue.com Artwork Tips & Help.

Navigate to the tutorials below:

What is a Document Bleed?

A document bleed is a small area around the edge of your artwork. This area extends beyond the “finished” edge of your document and is then printed. When printing occurs, the bleed is trimmed off, creating finished artwork that extends to the edge of the print or in our case, label. Bleeds eliminate the issues most printers have with printing to the edge of the paper. By designating a bleed area and printing on larger stock then trimming to size, you get a finished document with “flooded” color spanning the entire print.

For example, say you want your label to have a completely green background. By extending the green background into the bleed when the label is die cut, it cuts off the designated bleed of the artwork and the result is a label that is completely green.

Another reason we request a bleed on your submitted artwork is to account for movement on the printing press and finishing unit. Depending on the size of your label order, your print run can be thousands of feet long. To make sure every label finishes perfectly, we need a little bit of room for adjustments to keep your label centered.

By printing slightly larger than what is necessary, we avoid prints with inconsistent artwork. Here at LabelValue.com, we request a 1.6mm bleed. Adobe Illustrator makes it very simple to set up and export a print ready document with a bleed. Let’s show you how:

 

How to Create a Document with a Bleed in Adobe Illustrator

A common bleed size in the United States is 0.125”. However, it’s important to get into contact with your printer to get specific bleed requirements. You can view ours here: https://www.labelvalue.com/blog/art-guidelines.

Many printers have specific artwork requirements and it’s a good idea to go over their guidelines as this can save you a lot of back-and-forth in the print preparation stage.

Once your determined your required bleed size, you can begin to design your artwork.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

1. Open up Adobe Illustrator and select File > “New…” in the toolbar.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

2. Once you Select New… from the “File” Menu, a new document interface will appear.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

3. What we suggest to do is navigate to “More Settings” and click on it. This offers more robust control on how your document is set up.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

4. With the “More Settings” menu open, we will begin by naming this project “Bleed Example”, giving it a size of 5 inches by 5 inches.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

5. After our basic document settings have been selected, the next section in setting up our document is the bleed. We want to make sure we have selected the link icon to the right of the bleed settings. This will keep all sides of your document bleed (top, right, bottom, left) the same.
Note: Our default unit of measurement for document set-up is inches, but as you can see, we need a bleed in millimeters. Illustrator has a great function that automatically converts different units of measurements. So when you initially type in “1.6mm” it will convert that measurement to inches automatically as seen above.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

6. Once your bleed has been designated, we can go ahead and select “Create Document”.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

7. This will open your Adobe Illustrator artboard with your selected document and bleed size. The white area is our 5” x 5” area. And the red outer border is our designated 1.6mm bleed.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

8. When creating artwork that is designed to bleed, extend your background colors to the edge of the bleed. It is important to remember though, any important information needs to stay out of the bleed area and be positioned within the document. See the example above to note how the document background extends to the bleed edge, but all logos, graphics, and text are well away from the edge of the artboard.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

9. Give yourself a safe margin from the edge of the document. You never want to place artwork directly on the document edge. When the bleeds are trimmed, you don’t want to risk of losing all or part of your artwork because it was placed too close to the cut line. See above example of the safe area / margin as noted by the red dashed line. Typically, we recommend leaving at least 1/16″ safe margin.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

10. Now that we’ve created artwork that has been designed with a bleed, we need to save it in a way that the bleed information remains with the document when its sent to be printed. The best way to do this is to save it as a .PDF. To do this, navigate to File on the toolbar and select “Save As”.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

11. This will open a prompt to select where you want to save your .PDF file. Under the file type select “Adobe PDF” Click Save.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

12. This will open up another prompt for your PDF Save As options. We suggest High Quality Print under “Adobe PDF Preset”.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

13. Now Navigate to “Marks and Bleeds” on the left-hand menu.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

14. Under the “Marks and Bleeds” Menu, you can opt to include trim marks, also commonly known as crop marks. These are guides on where to trim your bleeds. Some printers may request to include trim/crop marks and some may request to not include them. This is an important question to ask when submitting artwork to be printed. For this example we will turn our crop marks on to show the final document with a bleed included.
Click the “Trim Marks” box. Now also click the “Use Document Bleed Settings” option located in the Bleeds submenu. See above for example.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

15.Click “Save PDF”.

How to Set up Document Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

16. Navigate to the PDF file you just saved and open it using Adobe Acrobat. Your document will appear with crop marks on all four corners. You now have guides on where your document bleeds should be trimmed, to allow for full background color coverage.

How to Add a Bleed to An Existing Document in Adobe Illustrator

What if you had previously created artwork and just realized you need to add a bleed? Start from scratch? Manually add a bleed? Not to fear! Adobe Illustrator makes it easy to add a bleed to an existing artboard.

How to Add a Bleed to An Existing Document in Adobe Illustrator

1. Open up the file you need to add a bleed to. Navigate to File in the toolbar and select “Document Set up…”

How to Add a Bleed to An Existing Document in Adobe Illustrator

2. This will open the “Document Set Up” Menu. Here there are various options you can choose for your document. For this tutorial, we will focus on “Bleed”.

How to Add a Bleed to An Existing Document in Adobe Illustrator

3.In the bleed option, input the amount of bleed needed for your existing document. Make sure the link icon is selected to make all sides of your bleed the same.

How to Add a Bleed to An Existing Document in Adobe Illustrator

4. Once you have input your bleeds, select “OK”. The “Document Setup” menu will close and your document will now include bleeds.

Have any feedback, or need an answer to a design question you have? Give us a call or Email us, address the e-mail to “Graphics Team,” and we will get back to you with an answer shortly.

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