Artwork Basics

Getting great Stuff from us starts with great artwork. If you are designing files offline and uploading them to order your Stuff, then there are a few things you need to know to ensure you will get great results. We are here to help and we encourage a Voom Guaranteed File check if you are unsure about your file, the cost is low and gives you peace of mind knowing your file has been inspected by a Voomie before we make your stuff. Please review the information below to learn more about best practices for preparing your files, and of course contact us with any questions you have.

Surprisingly, one of the most overlooked aspects of design is one of the most basic - setting up artboards (page sizes) at the correct size. The best place to start any design project is with a correctly sized artboard. If the software you are using does not give you the ability to control the actual size of the document, the software is probably not going to give you a file that is going to print well.

You can take your chances with uploading a file where you do not truly know the size, but we do not recommend it. Most likely you will not be satisfied with the results and there is a possibility your job could even be rejected. We urge you to select the option for a “Voom Guaranteed File Check” before printing if you have any doubts.

Starting with quality design software is the best path to success. When creating artwork for print, the size of the artboard is the first and most important aspect the designer should consider. When repurposing artwork for another project, resizing the artboards should be your first step, and remember if your project changes direction midstream in the design process, as projects seem to do, always make sure you are adjusting your artboards to match your project. Nothing like getting to the finish line on a project only to place the order and realize someone changed something ten steps back and forgot to tell the designer - who now has to go back 10 steps to fix the art. Templates are available for most of our products and you can always request one if one is not available.

When designing very large scale projects it is sometimes necessary to generate your art at scale. If you need to design a project larger than your software will allow, (like when you need to wrap the side of a building) you can increase resolution and we can scale your files up at printing - contact a Voomie to discuss this.

Bleed refers to a printed image that extends past the edge of a finished page. To accommodate a bleed, we must print the image area larger than the finished page size. The printed image extending into the bleed area is then trimmed off so that the printed area extends to the edge of the sheet. This is to ensure you do not have white lines on the edge of your finished job due to minor variations that are inherent in the printing process.

It is also important not to place important text, graphics, or images too close to the edge of the finished sheet. Printing and finishing equipment are subject to some manufacturing tolerances, so there is always some amount of variance in the finished product. The amount of "safe area" varies by process, but for most processes .125in is a good rule of thumb. Be especially aware of putting borders around the edge of your product, we recommend at least .25in distance from the edge for any borders.

The process for preparing bleed varies by application and can be challenging if using software not intended for high quality output. If the software you are using does not give you the option of saving a pdf with correct bleed settings, we highly recommend you select the "Voom Guaranteed File Check" to make sure you will be satisfied with the quality of your project. Voom recommends a .125in bleed for all files.

For printed images, the resolution is based on the size of the dots that make up the tonal values of the images. It is usually expressed in dpi (dots per inch). The higher the dpi, the higher the resolution and the higher the quality. A good rule of thumb is to work with an image resolution that is twice the line screen your document will print at. Most printers print at 133 or 150 line screen so your images should be a minimum of 266 or 300 dpi (dots per inch). The Voom Group prints using 200 line screen or 300 line screen depending on what paper type your job is being printed on and also offers FM screening. This allows you to benefit from higher resolution photos and images at 600 dpi although smaller images at 300 dpi are still acceptable. Resolution is relative to the viewer's perspective as well, so while a 300 dpi image is ideal for most offset and digital print, when printing large format images that will be viewed at a distance, lower resolution files are perfectly acceptable, 150 DPI is typically targeted for large format items that will be viewed at a distance of a few feet and even lower for images that will be viewed at longer distances. Contact a Voomie if you have questions about your particular situation.

If the images/photos/graphics you use in your documents are low resolution, your image may be blurry or you may see the individual jagged pixel elements in the printed piece. Please note that just because your image looks good on screen it may not print well. Your screen resolution is 72 dpi.

We highly recommend uploading properly prepared print ready pdf files for the best quality output. Voom recommends saving files as PDF version X-1a. Fonts should either be outlined or embedded. Artboards should be sized correctly and bleed & trim boxes should be defined in the PDF. Bleed should be set at .125". Images should be embedded and resolution should be appropriate for the print method - typically 300 dpi for offset print, digital print, and large format jobs that will be viewed at close proximity, 150 dpi is acceptable for large format orders that will be viewed at distance. The process for saving the file varies by application. We are happy to help if you are unsure about any file settings, and as always, select the Voom Guaranteed File Check when placing your order if you are unsure about your files and a Voomie will make sure your files are print ready.

We do accept .bmp, .png, .jpg, .jpeg, .tif, .tiff, .eps, .ps, .svg, .ai, and .psd as well. Properly prepared, these file types can also provide quality results. Ask a Voomie for more info on these file types.

While possibly less important today than in the past, a good designer will pay close attention to the color space of the images they are placing into their artwork. Images for print should typically be in the CMYK color space. There are exceptions and in some cases extended gamut devices can print a larger color gamut if the file's color space is rgb or another color space. But for the majority of jobs, images should be using a CMYK color space. Files that are provided in an incorrect color space will be converted to the appropriate color space. Typically this does not have a major effect on the quality of a job, but in some extreme cases, like cases of images with excessive TAC (Total Area Coverage of ink), image conversions can be quite dramatic, so it is best practice to use quality image editing software that will provide images of the correct resolution, in the correct color space, and with TAC ink limits within range for their appropriate print method. We recommend a TAC of 280 when printing on uncoated papers, 300 for printing on matte papers, and 320 for printing on gloss coated papers.

If designing with spot colors, those spot colors will be converted to process colors unless the job is actually being printed with spot colors. When printing with spot colors, such as printing with metallic inks, be sure to consult our guides on those custom file requirements prior to uploading, and as always there is always a Voomie standing by to help, so be sure to contact us with any questions.