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Adobe Illustrator


  1. Using a Template in Illustrator
  2. Create Guidelines and Boundary Box
  3. Adding Image
  4. Convert Text to Outlines
  5. Show Hidden Font Characters
  6. Set Black Text to Overprint
  7. Convert to CMYK Color Mode
  8. Delete Template
  9. Save as PDF
1. Using a Template in Illustrator
open image

Open Template

  • checklist arrow ButtonDownload Template for your desired product
  • checklist arrow ButtonOpen in Illustrator (New>Open)

Does your artwork have bleeds?

PsPrint requires .125" bleeds on all four sides of your artwork (i.e., 4"x6" postcard image with bleeds would have dimensions of 4.25" x 6.25" in your artwork file.) If your image has a white border on all four sides, bleeds are recommended but not required. If your image is not white on all four sides, you MUST include bleeds in your files. More information about bleeds.

Does your artwork have borders?

The cutting process for printed materials has a mechanical tolerance of about .0625 or 1/16 of an inch. When using a border in your artwork, it is essential that your design use at least .25 or 1/4 of an inch of white space from your border to the cut line to maintain a symmetrical appearance. More information about borders.

2. Creating Guidelines and a Boundary Box
boundary box

Create Guidelines

  • checklist arrow ButtonMake sure you are on the layer labeled "My Artwork"
  • checklist arrow ButtonShow rulers - (View>Rulers)
  • checklist arrow ButtonClick on the rulers and drag a guideline to the specified marks. This will help you line up your text/images to our template guides.
  • checklist arrow ButtonNote the instructions included in the template

Create a Boundary Box

Make sure the stroke and fill are transparent.

  • checklist arrow ButtonChoose the rectangle tool
  • checklist arrow ButtonCreate a box with the proper dimensions of your entire artwork plus .25" for bleed
3. Adding Images
place image

Adding an Image

  • checklist arrow ButtonPlace your hi-res file (File>Place)
  • checklist arrow ButtonCheck the resolution of your file and make sure it's set at 300 ppi

Determining resolution in Illustrator .

What is Resolution?

For an image to print properly, the image must be at least 300 pixels per inch (PPI) at the final output size. DO NOT try to change from a low resolution to a higher one by increasing the DPI in your imaging program. More information about resolution.

4. Convert Text to Outlines

out line image

Convert All Text to Outlines

All text within files must be converted to outlines with the outline set to zero to eliminate the need for fonts.

  • checklist arrow ButtonEdit>Select All
  • checklist arrow ButtonType>Create Outlines
 5. Show Hidden Characters
Hidden characters

Show Hidden Font Characters

You must make sure there are no hidden characters in your artwork.

Every font field ends with an infinity symbol . If there are symbols in your artwork without any type before then delete those type fields or make sure those fonts are outlined.

checklist arrow ButtonType>Show Hidden Characters

6. Set Black Text to Overprint
over print over print

Set Black Text to Overprint

  • checklist arrow ButtonFilter>Colors>Overprint Black
  • checklist arrow ButtonUnselect Stroke
  • checklist arrow ButtonSelect Include Blacks with CMY
7. Convert to CMYK Color Mode
cmyk image

Convert RGB file to CMYK

checklist arrow ButtonFilter > Colors > Convert to CMYK

What is CMYK color mode?

The color mode of submitted files must be CMYK. If your files are submitted using any other color standard, such as RGB or Pantone, they will be converted to CMYK. Conversion from one color standard to another may cause colors to shift. More information about CMYK color mode.

Does your artwork contain gradients?

Gradients are commonly used in printing and in most instances produce good results. Gradients can be represented in a file as a mathematical equation (Vector) or rendered by the application into a series of pixels (Raster). Whether created as rasters or vectors, gradients below 10% may not reproduce accurately. More information about gradients .

Does your artwork contain solid black?

Rich Black

When you want an area of solid black within a document, 100% black (K) will not result in a solid, saturated black. Instead, use Rich Black, as represented by C:50% / M:40% / Y:40% / K:100%.

8. Delete Template
delete layer

Select and Delete Template Layer

checklist arrow ButtonClick on template layer labeled "DELETE THIS LAYER"and delete.

* Note the instructions included in the template

9. Save as PDF
To flatten transparency and outline the fonts please use the instruciton below. -
transparency illustrator1
  • checklist arrow ButtonSelect All (Ctrl A / Cmd A)
  • checklist arrow ButtonObject > Flatten Transparency
transparency illustrator2
  • checklist arrow ButtonMake sure to check
    “Convert All text to Outlines”
    “Convert All Strokes to Outlines”
  • checklist arrow ButtonMake sure to uncheck
    "Preserve Alpha Transparency"
    "Preserve Overprints and Source Color"
  • checklist arrow ButtonSave file as PDF 1.3