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Common Mistakes with Custom Designs

Guide to proof lines.

Before we get started, the most important thing to remember is that the black, cut line is not constant. The product can be cut anywhere between the blue and pink dotted lines. These are the terms you need to know:

  • Bleed line - The dashed, blue line is the area that your background needs to fill.
  • Cut line - The solid, black line marks approximately where your product will be cut.
  • Safe zone - The dashed, pink line is where important information, such as photos and text, needs to go.

Making Images Full Bleed

Incorrect Bleed

Wrong

Not Enough Bleed- If you want color or an image to extend to the cut line/edge of your product, the image must extend all the way to the bleed line. Otherwise, you may end up with white space along the edge of your finished product.

Correct Bleed

Right

Your image extends all the way out to the bleed line, and therefore your product will be cut and trimmed perfectly.

Text or Image Outside the Safe Zone

Out of Safe Zone

Wrong

Outside the Imprint Area- Anything outside the Safe Zone is likely to be cut during production. Be sure all text and images are within the Safe Zone - the pink line - or your product risks looking off-center once cut (unless the image is extended to the bleed line on purpose).

Within Safe Zone

Right

All text and images (not intended to bleed to the edge) are within the Safe Zone.

Pixelated Images

Pixelated Image

Wrong

Pixelation - the majority of web images (photos from Facebook or websites) cause blurriness or distortion once printed. This is because web images are only around 72 dpi (dots per inch): a lower resolution than what is needed. Your image should be at least 300 dpi.

Clear Image

Right

Your image is at least 300 dpi and is crisp and clear.

Font Size and Color

Font size and color are difficult to read.

Wrong

Small Text - Do not overload your product with too much text, making it hard to read. Also, using small, white text with a serif font on a dark background makes it extremely difficult to read.

Easy to read font size and color choices.

Right

Use bold fonts that are easy to read.

Problems with Borders

Border is not placed inside the safe zone.

Wrong

Border outside the Safe Zone - If your design has a border, be sure the border's innermost edge is inside the Safe Zone; if the border is just basic color, it needs to extend past the cut line to the bleed line. If your border is outside the Safe Zone it could be cut off during production leaving your design off-center.

Border is within the safe zone.

Right

Border inside the Safe Zone- your border is inside the Safe Zone and therefore won't be cut off during production.

Artwork Resolution & Size

The size and resolution do not fit the dimensions of the product.

Wrong

Incorrect resolution and size- image resolution needs to be 300 dpi, anything smaller will result in a distorted image on your product once printed. Also, the size of your artwork needs to match the specifications for your product.

The size and resolution are correct for this product.

Right

Correct resolution and size- your artwork follows the product specifications and the resolution is at least 300 dpi.