Design Guide

Quick Art Checklist

Before you submit your artwork for production, please make sure you have
done the following:

  1. Proofread your art for spelling mistakes
  2. Not flattened the template
    layer to your artwork.
  3. Made sure your image resolution is at least 300 DPI.
  4. Created the proper amount of bleed.
  5. Converted the image color to CMYK
  6. Made sure all the text is within the type safety area.
  7. (If using Adobe Illustrator) Outline all Fonts
  8. Made sure all layers
    are editable and intact.
  9. (If using Adobe Illustrator) Embedded all Images.
  10. Saved your file with your project name and order number in the title.
  11. Deleted all unused layers.
  12. Save your files as a .PSD,.AI, .PDF, or .EPS file.


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Top 5 reasons designs are rejected at the preflight stage:

1. Artwork missing fonts or fonts are not outlined.

Make sure to outline your fonts during the design process, or supply your fonts with the design assets when you upload them

2. Artwork is missing linked images.

Ensure that you include all linked images with your design assets. Every design program has a different way to check this. QuarkXPress: Collect For Output feature. InDesign: Package command. Illustrator: use the links menus to list all placed images in the document.

3. Image resolution (less than 300 dots per inch).

Resolution of your images is too low (less than 300 D.P.I or was supplied in RGB instead of CMYK color mode. Ensure that you are doing your design in CMYK mode as this is the mode that all commercial printers use. RGB is a color pallet used for web designs and television screens.

4. Insufficient bleeds / Print Margins.

Ensure that there is a 1/8″ of bleed (images extending past the cut lines of your template) this will allow for a slight variance in the final cutting and keep white lines or inconsistencies off your final print items.

5. Artwork MUST be on our templates as a separate layer. Using Incorrect or other vendor’s templates for production will result in your files being rejected and possibly additional resubmission fees.

Printing is a very delicate and detailed process. A 1/100″ variance in a template can be all that stands between success of your project and a less than favorable print once completed. We have all the templates you require and will happily supply these to your designer:

Frequently Asked Questions:


1. Why should I use the Pressing-Media templates?

The templates our prepress department uses are formatted to our offset presses. Variance of 1/32 of an inch can cause problems in the printing and packaging process. Any file that is not provided in our templates will be rejected or can be quoted for adjustments.


2. What Design programs do you accept?

Our templates are available in all professional-level desktop publishing software.


File formats we can accept are as follows:

  • Adobe Illustrator (CS – CS5) layered .pdf
  • Adobe Photoshop (CS – CS5) layered .pdf
  • QuarkXPress (versions 5 – 8) layered pdf
  • CorelDraw (versions 8 – X5) layered .pdf
  • Adobe InDesign (CS – CS5) layered .pdf


Photo image formats:

  • TIFF (.tif)
  • Adobe Photoshop (up to version CS5) (.psd)
  • Photoshop EPS (.eps) – with 8-bit TIFF preview
  • Windows Bitmaps (.bmp)
  • Corel Photo-Paint (.cpt)
  • Photo CD (.pcd)
  • GIF (.gif) accepted, but not recommended for print
  • JPEG (.jpg) accepted, but not recommended for print


3. What are acceptable fonts?

We can accept PostScript (our preferred format), Open Type, or TrueType fonts.

For the Mac, PostScript fonts will be a suitcase/screen file with separate printer files for each weight (e.g., bold, italic, plain), while TrueType will be a single suitcase. For PC, each TrueType font will be a single .ttf file, while PostScript fonts consist of two files, a .pfm and pfb.


4. Can I just send you high-res PDFs of my layouts?

If you are an experienced designer -YES! However, if you are unsure we prefer to receive the raw design files. Your files must meet our specs exactly or rejections will occur, this is to ensure success with your project. A part of our prepress service is to adjust your files to meet our specs if we find minor errors or oversights. If you supply PDFs, we are extremely limited in what we can fix or modify. If your layouts do not conform to the templates, are not in the correct template, violate any of our printing specs or require text changes, we will be unable to make the adjustments and you will have to supply new files.


5. Do I need to supply layout files for every part of my package?

Please provide art files for every component in your order. Most commonly clients forget their files for on-disc printing, stickers, top-spines and posters.


6. What size do we make our barcode?

Make a white rectangle in an accessible area of your design that face out and measures at least 1.25″ wide by .5″ high.


7. What is a bleed?

Bleed is achieved by extending your design elements past the cut line in the template. When the final press sheet is trimmed anything outside the cut line is cut-off. Bleed allows for a margin of error when trimming, so that if the cut is a little off, the white of the paper won’t show along the edge of your jobs paper assets. We suggest a minimum of 1/8-inch of bleed for your layouts. Our templates have guidelines set up so you can see exactly how much bleed you need to add. Another important detail, any information like a song title or part of a photo right up against the crop(cut line), may get cut off. Our recommendation is that you keep your type and other important elements 1/8″ inside the crop marks also known as cut-lines. Each template has guidelines set up so you can see exactly how much margin to allow inside and out.


8. Minimum Font type?

We recommend that you keep your font larger than size 6. Dot gain can occur ( the dots of ink bleeding into each other ) on fonts smaller than this will make the text look fuzzy or unclear.


9. Is there a difference between CMYK / RGB?

We ask that all design assets be supplied in CMYK *unless Solid Spot Color Printing (Apparel, Solid Color Disc Faces) will be required*. CMYK = Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black. This is the standard color model for screen printing and paper printing. RGB = Red Green Blue and is the standard color model for televisions and computer screens – also the standard design model for web design. We ask you to provide all your images in CMYK. If there are any color shifts, you’ll be able to see them and take steps to correct it. If you supply RGB images, we’ll make the CMYK conversion here, and show you a proof. If you want to make any changes to your images at that point, your job may be delayed and incur additional charges. It’s much better for you to supply us with CMYK files up front.


10. What’s the difference between process (CMYK) and spot colors (Pantone)?

Process color uses translucent CMYK inks laid on top of one another to create a million hues of color. Think in the terms of a photograph. All the colors are made out of these 4 primary colors (C)yan(blue) (M)agenta(red) (Y)ellow and (K) Black. A spot color ink is a specially-mixed formula to make a single ink of a specific color. Think of a paint store – you pick a color and they mix the formula to achieve the resulting color. No matter what paint store you would go to it will end up with the same end result in color. Spot (Pantone) colors can be brighter or more saturated than process colors, or have special properties, such as metallic inks or fluorescents. When providing artwork for Spot color printing each color should be a separate layer with the PMS color value listed clearly. If solid color disc printing is required and you supply RGB or CMYK files they will be rejected.


11. Will the printing on my disc match the paper assets for my order?

We take every care to match as closely as possible your design assets. However we need to clarify that printing ink onto a paper stock will carry a certain amount of variance compared to printing onto the clear plastic disc. We have achieved amazing results in matching these components, but there are physical limitations that need to be recognized prior to the process. Clients who are exacting, may want to order a match proof or request an on site press check, there are additional fees for these types of services, large orders may be inclusive – please check with your sales rep.


12. How light or how dark can I make gradients in my design?

Disc Print – Spot Gradient lighter than 15% may not be recognized and disappear. Those darker than 85% may fill in or band completely. High-contrast images work best. Subtle changes in tone can be lost in any printing process. If you have a disc with a large variance in gradation we suggest designing it in CMYK and running it on our offset presses. Paper print gradation rules do not apply for CMYK print such as paper printing or offset disc print.


13. Can you match the color if I send in a sample?

The short answer is unfortunately no. Consumer Ink-jet and previous printed packaging may use the same CMYK color model, but the actual inks and paper are not identical. We can do our best to match the samples provided, however, the actual inks, paper, machinery and printing environment are not identical and affect the end results. Heat and viscosity of the inks can lighten or darken print unless a hardcopy proof and dedicated run is requested. You can simply test this theory by sending your file to several different printers and comparing them. These printer’s and our presses are not calibrated to one another, and due to this fact we cannot accept your printout as an accurate color guide for exact color matching. We send you a high-quality PDF proof of your job for you to approve prior to production, but this does not offer color warranty. If you would like a match proof (paper printed from a Calibrated digital printer to our larger print presses) this can be arranged and are a very good indication of the final project although a 5-10% color variance is an acceptable industry norm. Please contact your Sales rep for current pricing and details.


14. How to scan photos?

All color and grayscale scans should be created at 300 pixels per inch (ppi) at actual print size. For example, if you want to use a photo for the cover of your CD or DVD booklet, you’ll need to set your scanning software to 300 ppi and to the size closest to the final dimensions of your project. If your software wants the measurements in pixels, multiply the inches times the ppi (i.e. 300 ppi x 5 inches = 1500 pixels).Do not scan at a resolution higher than 300 ppi; this will not increase the quality of the image on your printed piece.(Note: your scanner software may refer to resolution as DPI, or dots per inch. The same formulas apply.)


15. What if I have special concerns about my design programs?

Please contact our team of design professionals to at Pressing-Media for our opinion on the best software for your specific project. We are happy to walk you through the process to ensure the highest quality and success in your design.


16. Merchandise, Apparel & T-shirt Printing:

  • Must supply artwork in vector format
  • Colors must be supplied in separate layers with the specific pantone color value assigned to each layer
  • If text is used, please ensure fonts are outlined or converted to curves
  • Final files need to be supplied as high resolution print ready PDF


17. What warranty do proofs offer me for color accuracy?

The proofs represent exactly what will go to print; so (A) if something is missing from the proofs; and/or (B) if you can see something that shouldn’t be there, you should reject the proofs and inform us of all problems you see. Pressing Media is not responsible for any errors and/or omissions that you do not correct on the proofs. PDF proofs (Option A) are for confirmation of the layout only and are not for the evaluation of colour whether viewed on computer monitor or printed. Colour warranty is only available with hard-copy printed proofs (Proof Option “B”).



More Artwork FAQs:


What file formats are acceptable?

Layered .PDF files.

Vector art is created using mathematical points, lines, curves and shapes collectively to create an image. Vector graphics are a necessity in the screen printing industry, because the colors of a print must be separated in order to be printed. This type of art may also be enlarged to no limit, because the art is based on a mathematical equation.

Raster art is created in many different ways, and is the most common of computer image files; the end result being a picture file that is based on a collection of pixels. Some raster art is very high quality, with several hundred “dots per inch” or “dpi,” however it has many limitations. Raster art is difficult to separate colors from, and it may only be enlarged so far, because as the image gets bigger, the pixels become visible distorting the image.


Please Note: If your art is currently in a Raster format, such as a Photoshop file, you cannot make it Vector by simply “saving it” with a common vector format extension. The art must be physically color-separated or re-created in a Vector art program, such as Illustrator or Corel Draw.


If design is not your forte, we have designers ready to work on your project today. If you have any questions or would like a price quote on your design, please call our artwork department toll-free 1-800-511-8171 ext 103 or email to:


What is DPI – why do I need 300 DPI for my print files

DPI, or Dots Per Inch, refers to the resolution or pixel density of an image. When it comes to print, a higher DPI is generally preferred for several reasons:


Print Quality:

A higher DPI results in a sharper and more detailed print. When you have more dots per inch, you can represent fine details and color nuances more accurately.


Viewing Distance:

The optimal DPI for print depends on the intended viewing distance. For standard reading materials like books and magazines, 300 DPI is often considered the industry standard because it provides excellent quality when viewed from a typical reading distance (about arm’s length).


Avoiding Pixelation:

When you print a low-resolution image with insufficient DPI, it can appear pixelated or blurry because there are not enough pixels to create smooth lines and curves.


Color Accuracy:

High DPI images can better capture the full spectrum of colors and gradients, making them suitable for high-quality printing, especially when color accuracy is essential.


Professional Standards:

We recommend 300 DPI images to ensure top-notch results. It’s a common standard that helps maintain consistency and quality in the printing industry.


Print Size:

The size at which you intend to print also affects the required DPI. Larger prints often require a higher DPI to maintain image quality because they are meant to be viewed from a greater distance.


We cannot offer a replacement warranty for printing less than 300 DPI.