Kamset - Artwork preparation guide
Before creating artwork, please consult your Kamset contact. These checks will help to ensure the job runs smoothly through our art working and production process. It is possible to avoid issues at print by identifying them at an early stage of the design process.
PDF versus original work files
While PDFs are suitable for most of our production requirements, there are circumstances in which we would need access to the original source files. Some examples of these circumstances can be found at the end of the document.
Please note the guidlines suggested are based on supplying PDF files to be used with Kamset’s print production workflow and may not be suitable for other print or production processes.
Areas covered in this guide.
Following these guidelines when supplying files to Kamset will help avoid unnecessary issues and delays with the production process.
Supplying original artwork files
Do not use Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3)
It is a legacy setting that does not allow Transparency effects. The setting will use Flattening to simplify the artwork.
Flattening can drastically alter content, making items uneditable.
At Kamset we use: Acrobat 7 (PDF 1.6)
What is Flattening?
Design and Artwork applications allow designers to create complex mixes of bitmap images, vectors, type, spot colours, shadows, glows, blends and other effects. A lot of effects use transparency. Given the different nature of the objects, unexpected results can occur when exported from the application.
Flattening divides transparent artwork into vector based areas and rasterized areas. The process may remove any unexpected results, but it also renders the divided artwork uneditable. Should we need to apply White_Ink, a production step or make a simple edit to this item it would not be possible.
2. Adobe PDF Standard
Do not save with PDF/FX standard.
Compliance for PDF/FX is for strict workflows and aims to create a rigid standard to ensure that supplied files can be processed through a PDF/FX workflow. It is a great aid to many systems, where transparency and new effects cause many problems. The PDF/FX standard will use Flattening to simplify the file. As explained above this process leaves the PDF in a state that cannot be edited.
3. Type / Fonts
Make sure that all used fonts are embedded or turned to outlines.
In January 2023 Adobe ended support for Postscript/Type 1 fonts. Please ensure only Opentype or Truetype versions of the font are used, or if you only have Postscript/ Type 1 fonts they must be turned to outlines.
4. Placed Bitmap Image Resolution - Effective PPI (Pixels per inch)
Effective PPI refers to the image resolution when placed into the artwork and all scaling, cropping or masking have been completed so the image is represented exactly how it will look in the final design and scale.
When determining the resolution of a placed bitmap image consider:
What scale is the artwork created at?
When placed what crop and scale will be applied to the image?
The simple guide below will work for nearly all common scales: Artwork set at: 100% (1:1) = 75ppi
Artwork set at: 50% (2:1) = 150ppi
Artwork set at: 25% (4:1) = 300ppi
Artwork set at: 10% (10:1) = 750ppi
Very large graphics require special consideration of the location and intended viewing distance. This is critical if the entire print area is the Raster image. PPI directly affects file size which affects all processing tasks.
Having PPI lower than the values suggested would make image look pixelated, having PPI higher will increase the file size considerably without any noticeable improvement to the image.
Each image needs to be assessed individually. Images containing Text, Smooth lines or Gradients will show many more issues with resolution than a standard photo.
We recommend viewing the PDF at what would be the final print size.
Use the Zoom tool and appropriate magnification relevant to the scale of the artwork. At final print size there should be little to no pixelation in the image. For example if the artwork has been made at 10% scale with a 600ppi image at that size 1:10, you would need to zoom to 1000% to check for pixelisation and quality of content of that artwork. If quarter size 1:4 ie 25% of actual size with a 300dpi image you would need to zoom to 400%.
5. Vector artwork and live text versus Bitmap artwork
Ideally logos should be vector based.
Ideally type should be live text or converted to outlines.
Vector and live Text are independent of resolution and will always print crisply. Rasterised images & text are reliant on resolution. Text and Logos can look undesirable after rasterising compared to images, ideally turn to outlines (ie vectors) where possible for perfect text quality at any scale.
The difference is more apparent when the artwork contains both vector and bitmap.
Kiss Cut jobs and Cutter Guides
Artwork for kiss cutting or to be used as a cutter guide must be vector based.
VERY IMPORTANT: The stroke must be aligned to the centre of the path rather than the inside or outside of the stroke thickness.
The number of nodes present in a path directly affect the time taken to process the job at the cutting station. Paths created using auto-trace should be cleaned up. In Illustrator the Simplify feature located under Object>Path menu can often be used with an effective result but
Warning: Clean up methods remove nodes from the path which can alter the original shape of the path. Each path should be dealt with carefully.
Gradients present many variables and have long been a problem for print.
If you have a large campaign we would highly recommend running test prints as early as possible in the design stages.
Common issues that are only exposed at the print stage are
2. Colour outside of the Print gamut range causes unexpected print output.
Causes for banding and unexpected print results are so varied, from running length of the gradient, direction of the gradient, the blending space and any number of effects that could be applied to the gradient.
There are three main types of gradient:
Linear (The gradient travels along a single path in one direction)
Radial (The gradient travels outward from the point of origin)
Freeform (Allows multiple colour points to blend into each other within an area)
Gradients can be both Live and Bitmap.
If the Gradient in the artwork is a Bitmap and banding or other defects are visible on screen, these will be visible on the print.
Live gradients are mathematical. Depending on the software setup, what you see on screen is a representation. The Live gradient may print better than the screen representation.
This is why physical printed proofs are so valuable.
7. Consistent Colour: Colour Workspace, Pantone Spot Colours and Swatches
Please make sure that colour is consistent throughout all artwork(s).
Choosing between an RGB or CMYK workspace will affect every element of the design. Please ask your Kamset contact for advice relevant to the design content and printing requirements of your project. Once chosen, the same workspace and theme must be used.
Pantone Spot Colours
Pantone Colours form an industry recognised Colour Matching System.
Pantone Colours are defined by LAB values and saved as a Spot colour.
Modern Rips and Printers have Pantone spot colour library definitions. The RIP will examine the PDF. Any Pantone spot colour name will be identified and the LAB definition held in the spot colour library will be used. This ensures consistent and accurate printing.
A swatch is a saved definition of a colour. It can be defined using CMYK, RGB, Hexadecimal or LAB values. Swatches are not part of a recognised industry colour matching system, there is no defined spot colour library for swatches. The swatches that are included in Illustrator and InDesign’s preset list are not saved as spot colours.
Exceptions to this would be for special colours such as White_Ink or spot colours used for automated production steps. Please ask your Kamset contact for details.
If a Pantone Spot Colour is edited, it must be given a new name and be saved as a Swatch, not a spot colour.
For Hoardings, Fascias and Prints that are too large to print in one piece. Check with your Kamset contact if a template is available. Please supply the artwork as a whole. Do not split or tile. Kamset will take care of the Tiling.
9. Document clean up. Layers, Guides, Visual Aids and Non printing items
Before creating the PDF, please clean up the document. Remove hidden or unused content, swatches, layers. Remove content placed out side of the artboard.
Save with Layers do not flatten. Please make sure guides and visual aids such as visible and safe areas are set as non-printing items and not saved with the PDF.
If you are working from an internal proof or production template used by your company, please make sure that the artboard or page size is focused on and set to the artwork, so that on creation of the PDF we receive a file that can be used without any manipulation to the PDF.
10. Bleed - Printing bleed and Fitting bleed
Printing bleed prints beyond the trim edge to ensure there are no unprinted edges after trimming. All artwork should be supplied with Printing bleed.
3mm bleed is more than enough for artwork created at 100% scale.
Scale accordingly to your artwork.
Fitting bleed extends beyond the physical size of the print job. The requirements will vary depending on what the fitting requires.
The fitting bleed varies on the depth of the object to be wrapped. Some examples would be stretched canvas over a frame or vinyl wrap mounted to a board.
Fascias and Hoardings
To account for the difference between technical drawings and the physical object after construction, it may be necessary to include additional colour or content beyond the template size. Your Kamset contact will take this into consideration and request the amount required and where to add it.
Original artwork required
When PDFs are created, the order of elements and how they are described changes compared to the original artwork. Even if preserve editing is used.
Simple edits to supplied PDFs carry an element of risk. An edit can have a destructive effect on the relationship between content within the PDF, which may not be observed. While editing PDF files, gradients are often not recognised and are described as unknown shading or converted to a graphic object. Unknown colour spaces applied to an image are a frequent issue, they prevent the use of Acrobat’s touch up editing tools for images.
Editing the file to add special production elements
If the project requires Kamset to add special production elements such as White_Ink to supplied PDFs and on inspection of the PDF files, it is deemed the PDF files are not suitable for editing, we would request the original artwork as long as it was created using Adobe Illustrator, Indesign or Photoshop.
Should a supplied PDF error or cause unexpected output. Kamset has a depth of knowledge related to troubleshooting. Through our experience we know very quickly when it would be best to request a new file saved differently, or request the original artwork as long as it was created using Adobe Illustrator, Indesign or Photoshop.
Illustrator, Indesign and Photoshop have Package features that are easy to configure to collect all elements and document fonts used.