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You’ve put an order in for your corrugated boxes, and they have asked you to provide print-ready graphics. Before you pull your logo from your website to send to the graphic designer, here are five things the corrugated graphic designer would like you to know that will make the printing process much smoother. You will be happier with the results, too.
Know Your Resolution
One of the top challenges that graphic designers face is getting artwork with a high enough resolution to print correctly. The resolution controls how much detail is available in the artwork. The higher the resolution, the greater the detail. For printing, the resolution is measured in dots per inch or DPI. The ideal resolution is 300 dpi at 100% of the final output size.
The size of the graphic must be appropriate for the application, as well. If you have a tiny raster image, even if it is 300 dpi, it will not print well blown up for a large display.
Depending on whether your printer uses flexography printed directly on corrugated or litho-laminated that will be mounted to the corrugated, there may be some leeway in dpi requirements. Line screen, which is expressed in lines per inch, will dictate the dpi. For example, flexography printed on corrugated has a lower line screen of about 85, so you may be able to get away with 150 dpi. In contrast to litho-laminated line screen of 150 to 200 and requires 300 dpi graphics.
A lot more goes into the type of printing used beyond the dpi of your graphics, such as quantity, size of the order, and whether it is a high-end product that requires 4-color print. Working closely with your corrugated manufacture will ensure you have the most cost-effective solution that meets your needs.
Understand File Types
There are two types of graphic files: raster and vector. Raster or bitmap files are what you see when you take a digital photograph. They are made up of thousands of tiny pixels. If you enlarge the image, you can start to see all pixels that make up the image. They are saved with file extensions such as .jpg, .png, .gif, .tiff, and .psd.
A vector file is a graphic based on mathematical curves and paths. Because of this, a vector graphic can be scaled and resized without losing resolution. Vector files are usually saved as native files from the program used to create the file, such as ai (Adobe Illustrator), svg, or eps.
The best file types for artwork containing logos or drawings are vector files. It gives the graphic designer more control over scaling it to provide the best outcome. Vector files are needed for printing on corrugated.
Specify Colors Correctly
When you hand off your print-ready files to the graphic designer, they will want to know if your artwork was designed with spot colors and/or CMYK. The type of printing process used will dictate the color process needed.
Spot colors are individual colors and are not mixed with other colors, making them more consistent from run to run. The Pantone matching system (PMS) is the standard spot color system used in the US. You may have heard colors referred to as Pantone colors or PMS colors.
CMYK, an acronym for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), uses a mixture of these colors to create a large variety of colors.
If your brand has a specific blue, for example, you will want to provide the spot color to the graphic designer. Some colors can be recreated with CMYK for litho, but not all, and for color consistency, using a spot color is best. Depending on your project, a combination of Spot and CMYK colors can be used.
When submitting your vector graphics, make sure that your fonts and images are included. Software, like Adobe Illustrator, creates links to fonts and images unless explicitly told to embed them. Your graphic designer may have standard fonts, but they won’t have any unique fonts that you may use. You can also turn your font into artwork that will create an outline of the font, and then the printer does not require the actual font.
Fonts don’t need to be supplied for raster images with fonts embedded when the artwork is being printed litho.
Ask for Specifications
The most important thing you can do when you speak to your corrugated supplier about your project is getting the artwork specifications. They can give you a structure to put the artwork on. When you return it to them, they will do what is called pre-flighting. Pre-flighting ensures that the files are present, formatted correctly, and of the correct type for the print job. They will look at font sizes, reverse out type, image sizes, how close things are to scores and cuts, etc. If there are issues, they will make changes and send them for your approval.