Vector Art: AD360

TECHNICAL SUPPORT | Preparing for Print Overview

Preparing a document for print and avoiding output problems:

NOTE: make sure you create a backup of your file before making the following adjustments.

  1. Add crop and trim marks -- these marks indicate where the page should be cut. They are especially important when you've designed artwork that contains bleeds. Bleeds are areas where the ink goes past the edge of the printed page to make sure no unwanted white space appears. There can only be one set of crop marks (Object > Crop Marks > Make), but you can make many trim marks (Filter > Create > Trim Marks). If your illustration is to be placed in a layout program, don't use crop or trim marks.
  2. Add printer's marks -- these include registration targets and variations called star targets, calibration bars and labels fro the particular separation or printing plate. The registration marks help the printer align the printing plates so that the inks are placed exactly on the paper. The calibration bars help the printer maintain the color values. These marks can be added by a check box in the Separations Setup dialog box.
  3. Specify the Rasterization Settings -- The third section of the Document Setup window, Transparency, controls how an image will be rasterized on output. The Flattening settings has a slider showing the Raster / Vector balance. Dragging the slider toward Rasters makes it easier to output your artwork, because more of it gets rasterized. This however, can result in reduced quality. It is best to keep the default settings unless you have output problems.
  4. Slim the File -- Delete all unused brushes, swatches, symbols and styles. Each of these palettes has a command called Select All Unused. Use that command followed by Delete. Check your Layers palette for hidden items. Show and unlock everything. If there are unneeded items consider deleting them now.
  5. Check Spelling -- Correct any errors using Type > Check Spellling.
  6. Clean up the Artboard -- use the menu command Object > Path > Clean Up. This can rid your document of potentially problematic points and objects.
  7. Rasterize Effects, Blends, Gradients, Gradient Meshes and Transparency -- by rasterizing these objects it makes them easier to print. Some effects and filters can create very complex objects. If it takes a long time to create or draw onscreen consider rasterizing.
  8. Convert Large Type to Outlines -- change headline type (not paragraphs of type) to outlines to solve printing problems.
  9. Splitting Long Paths -- a path with too many anchor points can choke an imagesetter. If you are getting an error message limit-check or virtual memory error, open Document Setup, choose the Printing & Export section and check the box for Split Long Paths. Try printing again.
  10. Don't forget to include Linked Images and Fonts -- if you have linked any bitmap images to your Illustrator document or if you are using a unique font you will need to send everything to the printer. Check to see you have included everything by using the Document Info palette. Remember to deselect Selections so you get data from the entire document.

Printing Terms and Processes:

Things to keep in mind when preparing an image for 4 color printing:

  1. Determine the ink type - spot or process (unless a color is told to separate into its four-color components it will output as a spot color.)
  2. Determine which elements will be colored
  3. Refer to a printed Swatch book when selecting color. Don't use a spot color guide to define process colors and visa versa.
  4. Define the colors. It's easy to change color definitions down the road, if needed.