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resources - artwork guidelines

Colour Modes

When setting up artwork for your [AB] Designs Ltd project, make sure all your files are in CMYK (process) colour and not RGB or Pantone PMS.


Colour Considerations

It’s important to note that printed colours will never 100% match what you see on a screen. Colours on your computer screen are RGB, and always appear brighter than printed colours. These colours are refractive, meaning that they are created by light passing through and have millions of possible combinations.

Printing, on the other hand, uses ink, which is reflective. It is reflective due to light is bouncing off of something instead of passing through. There are not as many colour combinations possible with CMYK colour.


RGB Colour Issues

Because RGB colours are different than CMYK, the colors will look different on the final printed piece.  Converting RGB colours to CMYK can result in muted tones or colour shifts.  Keep in mind that it can be difficult to replicate certain bright RGB colors with CMYK inks.


Rich Black 

Some printing projects include rich black, which is a mixture of 100% black (K) and Cyan (C), Magenta (M) and Yellow (Y). Rich Black creates a darker tone than black ink alone. 

For best results, we recommend the following Rich Black values:

Coated Papers (UV Coated, Matte, Silk Laminated)

C60 M40 Y40 K100

Uncoated Papers

C40 M40 Y20 K100


Colour Best Practices


Please refrain from using registration (C100 M100 Y100 K100) in your artwork. This “colour” is reserved for special marks like crop and bleeds.


Blue and Purple

Blue and purple are very close in the CMYK spectrum. When using a blue color in your design, always be sure to have at least a 30% difference in your Cyan and Magenta values. Adding too much Magenta to Cyan will result in the color purple even if it appears blue on your screen. 

Example: C100 M70 Y0 K0





Bleed Guidelines

What is a Bleed?

When your card, flyer or other printed product has artwork that extends to the edge of the paper with no border, this is called a bleed. It can occur on one, some or all sides of your project. Images that extend to all four sides of the product are called a full bleed.


Creating Artwork With Bleed

The amount of bleed required on your artwork depends on the project. Most projects require a minimum of 0.0625”. For example, if you’re getting 3.5 x 2” business cards, your artwork dimensions would be 3.625” x 2.125”. 


To create the bleed, your image has to be larger than needed, and some of the image will get cut off during trimming.


Bleeds vs. Safe Areas

While bleed describes printing that intentionally goes off the page, safe areas (or safety areas) describe the amount of space required to keep elements on the page.

Since some projects can shift up to 0.0625” during the cutting process, we recommend keeping all logos and text at least 0.125” or more inside the cutline (or page edge) to avoid any issues.


Colour Profiles: CMYK & RGB

CMYK is a color profile designed for print. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black and represents the four ink colours used on a press. Every printed colour is made up of a combination of these four ink colours. Saving your file in the CMYK colour mode will ensure the most accurate print.


RGB is another colour profile commonly used. However, this profile is created using light rather than ink. Computer screens create colours using red, green, and blue lights. Colours on your computer screen are RGB, and always appear brighter than printed colours.


When files are uploaded to be printed using RGB, our systems will automatically convert them to CMYK. However, we recommend converting the colours yourself. Since all colours do not convert the same, converting the profile yourself allows you to make colour adjustments and have a better understanding of the final print outcome. 


Mask Files Setups

Spot UV coating or Spot Gloss adds a dramatic flair to any print project by adding a clear coating to certain areas. It makes pictures or text elements pop.

In order to specify which areas of your project are coated, you’ll need to create a separate file called a mask.


Raised Spot Gloss coating add both pop and depth to your printing projects by applying areas of raised, clear coating*. To get it, you’ll need to create a separate mask file in addition to your color artwork to let us know where you’d like it applied.


UV or Gloss coverage should be less than 30% otherwise there is the risk of the cards sticking to one another. Also remember when creating your design that the depth of the Raised Spot UV/Gloss is 50 microns. 


What is a Mask? 

Mask files are black and white files that show where to apply special finishes, like coating. They are separate from your coloured artwork file, but both files work together to create your project.


Creating a Mask for Your Coated Project

The easiest way to create a mask for your project is to use your print file. Remove all elements from the file that are not coated, since the mask is only used to show the placement of coating. 


Next, change the colour of everything to be coated to black (C0 M0 Y0 K100). There should be no other colour in your mask file.


Another option is to create a new file the same size as your artwork. Place the elements to be coated in the identical position as your artwork, and fill them with black. 


Best Practices for Mask Files

When creating masks for coated projects, alignment is the most critical part of the process. Make sure your artwork and mask files are the same size, and all shared elements are in the same position.

Because coating differs in application from ink and occurs after the printing process, coated areas shouldn’t be extremely small or thin. Stay away from delicate graphics and thin or small fonts. The minimum line weight for raised Spot UV masks is 0.5 points.

For best results, the mask file should be a vector art created in a vector-based program such as Illustrator. Otherwise, you won't have sharp edges on the artwork.

If you have any questions about creating a mask for your raised spot project, feel free to contact us, and we’ll be happy to help. For those who don’t feel comfortable with the process, our design department can create a mask from your artwork.

Colour Modes
Bleed Guidelines
Colour Profiles
Mask Files Setups
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