Printing to the edge requires what graphic designers and printers mostly refer to as "bleed," but many people don't know what bleed means, why it's necessary or how to make sure a file has it. Today, we'll cover those questions and more to help you gain the knowledge to provide beautiful, print-ready projects for printing.
What is "bleed?" Bleed is the area of artwork that runs beyond the edge of the intended size of the final print. It typically runs an extra 1/8 inch beyond the final size on all sizes and must be free of any text or essential artwork as it is intended to be cut off during the finishing process.
Why is bleed necessary? When we print a project with color or artwork running to the edge of the paper, we need to print it on a page that is larger than the finished size and then cut it to size because printers cannot print to the very edge of the paper. Even the most precise technology can leave hairline white edges when trimming the paper down to size if the file we start with doesn't have bleed. To ensure a clean finished product, we need the 1/8in of bleed prior to print.
How do we add bleed?
There are quite a few ways to add bleed, but here are our favorites:
1. Add Bleed Before You Design The best way to add bleed is when you're starting your design. Most design programs allow you to select to include bleed when you open a blank project. Always select this option and then make sure the background of your project reaches the designated bleed area without extending your text beyond the final product edge.
2. Add Background Color to the Edges (for solid color backgrounds) If you're starting from a file someone else provided or a project created without bleed, you can take that file and place it on a canvas that is 1/8 inch larger than print size on all sides and add a rectangle of color behind the design that is the size including bleed and is the same color as the background. Works best for projects that have a solid color background.
3. Resize the Artwork If the design isn't a uniform color on all sides, increasing the artwork size to be 1/4 inch taller and wider than originally sized can often work - as long as the text isn't too close to the edge of the file. Always make sure keep the ratios the same when stretching any design to avoid distortion and keep in mind that this can reduce the quality of the image depending on its original resolution.
Want to know if your project needs bleed, get advice on how to add it or have our designers do the work for you? Contact us to get started today!