Design Hints

To ensure the designs you develop
reproduce well on our high-speed offset presses

Scanning Images
If you scan the images yourself from photographs, save them in either TIFF or EPS format in CMYK mode. These image formats best preserve the color and sharpness of your pictures. You should scan your images using a resolution of 300dpi at the final dimensions. In other words, avoid scanning at 300dpi and then enlarging the picture by 200% in your layout program. This will cause color shifts and blurriness when printing.

low-res files will cause
color shifts and blurriness
when printed.

300dpi enlarged to 200% 300dpi at 100%  

Why are AMAX scans better than mine? Go to our FAQs for answers.




Using Pictures from Digital Cameras
When using pictures from your digital camera, they will only look good on your screen if they are 72dpi JPGs. Make sure all pictures are high enough pixel resolution for offset presses. Do the math before using them for reproduction. For instance, if you have an 2048 x 1536 pixels image at 72dpi, that means you have the same image about 28" x 21" at 72dpi or 7" x 5" at 300 dpi, so it's safe to reduce or enlarge that image up to about 7" x 5" in your layout.

72dpi RGB JPG looks good on your screen, but it's not good for offset presses.  




Using CMYK Colors Instead of RGB Colors
Offset presses print full color pictures using combinations of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK). But scanners and digital cameras create images using Red, Green and Blue (RGB) to display images on the screen. So your RGB file must be translated to CMYK in order to print it correctly on offset presses. We suggest that you do the RGB-to-CMYK conversion of the images yourself. You will have more control over the appearance of your printed pieces. And also it's the reason why you select CMYK colors instead of RGB colors for your fonts or other design elements in your layout.

Normally, you won't really notice the color shift in a color photograph, except you pick a very rich or vibrant colors.  
RGB mode CMYK mode  




Using Text Against Images
Be sure you significantly contrast between your text and image. If you use photographs for background, lighten up your photography or enlarge your text size. This will make your text easier to read.

original image lightened up background reversed and bold text




Colorizing Text and Working with Small Text
Itís best not to colorize small text. Why not? When the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black plates don't line-up exactly, this results in misregistration: little colored halos around the characters. It's best to use colored text on large, bold type, or smaller sizes down to about 12 point. Otherwise, the words may be hard to read and the work will look unprofessional. The same thing happens when using knock-out (white) text on colored background or photography.

800% magnifications of 10pt. text
colored text knock-out text
on colored background
solid black text knock-out text
on solid black background



Color Trapping & Overprinting
When working with two colors or more, please note trapping and overprinting help make your design look good when printed. As mentioned above, don't colorize small text. Misregistration occurs when different color plates are not lined-up exactly. Trapping and overprinting is needed in some cases. If you have any problems, contact our technician for advice and assistance. We use special software to trap colors and design elements. And we'll use our experience and knowledge to determine if we should trap or overprint - that'll save you time and money.

using uncommon colors:
100M and 100C
using shared colors
100M and 100M 100Y
without trapping or overprinting with trapping with overprinting no trapping or overprinting needed in this case



100% Black vs. CMYK Black
If you are printing process colors, you can avoid some misregistration problems by using black which contains percentages of Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow with 100% Black. In general, misregistration is less noticeable if there is at least one shared color between adjacent shapes. The four-color Black is also a much richer black than 100% Black.

100K 30C & 100K 20C 15M 15Y & 100K




Bleeding is the term for printing that goes right to the edge of the paper. If you are working on the document you wish to bleed, make the document with an extra 0.125" all the way around. Make sure that any photograph or background you wish to bleed passes through that extra 0.125". Then after we have printed your piece, we will trim off that extra 0.125" all the way around. You'll have color all the way to the edges of your final piece.

extra 0.125" all the way around

trimmed pieces



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