Prepping for Print: Begin The Design
Updated: Feb 16
We’ve covered quite a bit on creative process and developing various campaigns, time to get back to our roots—print. Let’s assume you’ve already come up with that clever hook and have the photo or graphic in mind to tie it together, now it’s time to put it together with pixels and points.
Choose Your Program
While not the only software vendor out there, Adobe pretty much as the market cornered on desktop publishing with their Creative Cloud applications, both for download and online use. The mainstays in this suite off apps include Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. You can design start-to-finish in each of them, but they are best used in concert with one another.
Photoshop: In recent years, Photoshop has expanded in both capability and usability to the point where it now supports design in vector (scalable) graphics, however it’s real power is it’s ability to manipulate photographs/bitmap images. Full layouts designed in Photoshop can become large and unwieldy. When creating/editing bitmaps, be sure to maintain a high number of pixels per inch (ppi), preferably at least 300ppi.
Illustrator: Aptly named, Adobe Illustrator is the weapon of choice for graphic designers and (you guessed it) illustrators because of it’s vector-first and simple canvas set-up. Many plugins are designed to integrate tablets and stylus pads to provide designers with a tactile response for their creation.
InDesign: This is where we pull it all together. Features of both Photoshop and Illustrator are present in InDesign, however this application is uniquely designed as a desktop publishing tool, intended to combine graphics created in both of the above applications and merge the pieces into a singular creative piece and prepare it print.
Remember the Bleed
Think of the bleed as overspray, or an expansion of the printed area beyond what is cut. While printing is quite precise, cutting may not be down to the tenth of a millimeter, so plan for at least 3mm or 1/4″ bleed around the document so a clean cut will include background or effects to edge of the piece. Depending on your application, you can either add the bleed as a separate border around your canvas or create an oversized canvas and move your cut marks in to the desired size—either way, any background or graphics intended to sit at the edge should stretch beyond the cut.
If you’re in need of design assistance or help setting up an existing graphic, our in-house prepress design team will be happy to assist!