In this article we’ll walk through a handy checklist of the principal things you need to think about when preparing artwork for print or web.
What does FA stand for?
FA stands for Final Artwork, it refers to the last approved version of a digital file before it is sent to print or web. FA is an essential step because as there are many changes to make to the original digital copy. If you are the person sending your artwork for print or web, the responsibility of producing the FA falls on you.
Ensure all files, including placed files, are in CMYK instead of RGB. Using RGB in print can result in colours being “out of gamut”. The printer will select alternative colours automatically, that often create duller and lack detail outcome. This is why it is important during the Final Artwork process to check if your file is in CMYK mode. In some very specific cases, Pantone values are used, but very seldom.
For digital/web, colour is often a key aspect of artwork. The colours you see on your artboard may not be the colours that will appear in a web browser on someone else’s system. You can prevent dithering (the method of simulating unavailable colours) and other colour problems by taking two precautionary steps when creating web graphics. First, always work in RGB colour mode. Second, use a web-safe colour.
To make sure your valuable content is being printed crisp and sharp, ensure to either provide the font or outlined it as the printer might not have the font that was used. This can create a serious problem as the words might lose shape or even disappear during printing.
Bleed and Crop Marks (Print)
Bleed occurs when an element of a page touches the very edge of the page in the design. Printers will have a difficult time printing at the very edge, due to movement of the paper. It can cause white strips to appear during trimming. It is safer to add a bleed area which normally 3 to 5mm from the borders of the artwork.
Besides the bleed area, remember to add crop marks too. Crop marks are lines printed on the corners of the artwork to guide printers on trimming. This allows precise points where the printer will trim accordingly.
Resolution is the total number of pixels in an image, the higher the number of pixels the better the quality for print. The recommended resolution for print is usually 300dpi (Dots per inch) and images from cameras tend to be captured at 72dpi. Images with a lower number of pixels may look pixelated and blurry. During the Final Artwork process, you have to ensure and convert all the images to 300 dpi.
Create small graphics file sizes is essential to distributing images on the web. With smaller file sizes, web servers can store and transmit images more efficiently, and viewers can download images more quickly. You can view the size and the estimated download time for a web graphic in the Save For Web & Devices dialog box. The recommended resolution for web is 72dpi.
The preferred choice file format for print are usually PDF file as this format is readable on numerous platforms without making any edits to the files. PDF files also allow compression with no noticeable loss in quality, as long you have embedded the images and outlined the fonts.
As for photos, TIFF files are the best choice for printing as they tend to be very large in size and it is a “lossless” format that retains the highest quality. Please avoid PNG and JPEG formats as JPEG loses data in compression and PNG does not support the CMYK colour scheme.
Different types of graphics may need to be saved in different file formats to display their best and create a file size suitable for the web. To know more information on the specific formats, see Web graphic optimisation options.
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