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How to Get the Best Quality Label Files: 101

How to Make the Best Quality Label Files for Your Brand and Business 

  When creating labels, you want them to best represent what you stand for. Your labels are a direct reflection of your band, and that means making sure you have the most accurate image files to best optimize their results.   Accepted Label Files Are:   pdf, ai, and eps (make sure you are submitting a single page pdf.)   300 dpi (any lower and the quality of your prints decrease)   CMYK based file Safe Area: This is where any text, vital pictures, and other key design elements should be preserved. Anything beyond the trim may be removed. Die-line: The die-line is the ultimate size of your label. This is where you want to split your labels. Bleed: This is the region that will be cut off outside of the die-line. Even if it is deleted, it is still critical to create the best labels for your product.   

Raster vs. Vector Based Images:

Raster pictures are made up of pixels and are often used in photography. For high-quality printing, they must have a minimum resolution of 300 dpi at print size. Vector graphics, which are made up of pathways, lines, and forms, are endlessly scalable. Adobe Illustrator is often used to create vector graphics. Include all linked files, current and updated, that are contained in your artwork arrangement when uploading artwork, or incorporate them in the file. All photos, whether linked or embedded, must be in CMYK format. When possible, include an original layered Photoshop file. Photoshop generates vector art but does not store it as vector. To create vector-based imagery, most designers utilize Adobe Illustrator. Photoshop may be used to prepare and alter raster images.  

But what if you have artwork that is both raster and vector?: 

Do all of your picture retouching in Photoshop (in CMYK mode), then “Place” the image in your Illustrator work. This is also a good moment to embed your picture in the document rather than supplying a separate file to link to your photos.  

Different Font Styles:

All typefaces should be converted to outlines. We may not have your typefaces, and the printer may not have them either. You must convert your fonts to outlines so that they are not substituted by another font when opened. Please keep in mind that after you’ve turned your text to outlines, you will no longer be able to make any new edits. Make certain that all typefaces are made using vector graphics tools such as Illustrator.  Do not design your text using picture editing tools such as Photoshop.  

Image Clarity:

If you are sending a raster image(s), you must ensure that the image is of excellent quality. With a low-quality photograph, you can’t expect a high-quality print. To ensure that your image(s) are of great quality, go to Image – Image size in Photoshop and ensure that the resolution is 300 dpi in its original size. Keep in mind that raising the image’s resolution does not improve its quality and may result in worse quality and additional difficulties.  Here are the steps to get the best print-ready file: After you’ve edited your raster picture in Photoshop and ensured that it’s at least 300 dpi. Now it’s time to insert it into your Illustrator file.
  1. Open Adobe Illustrator (AI) – go to document Color mode – CMYK Color
  2. In your tool bar (left side with icons similar to photoshop) – use the art-board tool- Looks like a piece of paper with a plus sign on the left-hand side – click on your art-board 
  3. In the properties panel on the right-hand side of the computer screen, set the top left corner of the art-board to 0 on the x and y axis
  4. Also in the properties panel, set the width of your art-board to the width of your material. We will do the height at the end, which we will get more into a little later.

Art work

If you have any photos (jpg, tiff, etc.) make sure they have at least 300 dpi. Embed your image by – select the image – click “embed” at the top left-hand side of the screen. Embedding, allows the image to your hard drive. This is so if you change your workspace between individual machines, your media will not be lost. If your artwork is too large to place next to each other, you can place it in the center of your art-board, if they are smaller and fit within the art-board itself, (A large gap is needed on the sides i.e. white space) you can place them side by side
  1. Select any text – “object” – “expand” – this should be already selected, but make sure that “object” and “fill” are checked, then click “ok”
    • Expanding your text turns it into shapes this allows you to not lose your fonts – fonts can get lost between sharing/transfers to other programs.
Cutline and Bleeds
  1. Cutline – Create a new layer – the cut layer (layers panel) Name it “cutline” on this layer, create a shape that outlines the border of your entire image
    • To do this: if your background is just a simple shape, copy the shape from the first layer – go to the cut layer – go to “edit” – paste in in place – this should place a shape covering your whole artwork
  2. At the top set the shape to “no fill,” and ad a 1 pt stroke that’s a different color from your artwork – this is your cutline
  1. Bleed – To make your bleed, extend the background of your artwork past your cutline usually about 1/8 inch
  1. If you have a more complicated background such as an image, make sure any important details are on the inside of the die-line (not inside the bleed)
    Cut Registration Marks  
  1. Select the “rectangle” tool – click anywhere on the screen – a box for the width and height will pop up – type 5 mm (0.1969 in) in the height and width boxes. This is your registration mark 
  1. Change the fill of the square to black if it has not already done so – click in the shape (registration mark is highlighted)
  2. You need 2 of these squares
  3. This section is important: the position of your registration marks is crucial for precise cuts 
  1. Select one of your registration marks – using the align tools at the top – click “horizontal align left” – then “vertical align top” this should put your registration mark perfectly at the top left corner
  2. With the other registration mark, to the same but place it at the top right corner “horizontal align right” and “vertical align top”
  1. This is where some trial and errors come into play: the farther away the registration mark is from the artboard, the better
  2. Select the registration mark – Shift – click the left and right arrow keys twice to get them slightly away from the edge (about ¼ in)
  1. Once your registration marks are in place, make sure your artwork is safely below the registration marks; Top of artwork (not including bleed) should be about a ¼ inch (more is better) from the top of the artboard. 
  1. Using the artboard tool, drag the bottom of the artboard to near the bottom of your artwork. Leave around an ⅛ inch gap. 

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