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4.1 Preparing a File for Print

Sending a file to a professional printer can be a daunting task. In this lesson, we'll learn how to create bleeds and crop marks, and how to export a PDF file for professional printing.

4.1 Preparing a File for Print

Hi there, welcome back. In the last lesson, we finished the design process of our poster. Now we're onto the next step. Preparing and sending a file to a professional printer can be a daunting task. In this lesson, we will learn how to add bleeds, cropmarks and how to export a professional PDF ready for print. Let's take a look. Bleed is the area of the artwork that is extended beyond the actual dimensions of the document. It is used to avoid strips of white paper showing on the edges of your print in case they moved or get misaligned when cutting to size. Usually, the size of the bleed is three millimeters per side. In our case, the background of the poster is black, so we need to extend this three millimeters around the edges. That makes it six millimeters to the height and the width. Let's activate the grids by pressing Cmd+semicolon. And we need to draw guides to the edge of the poster. You can do so by going to the ruler. And if you don't have the ruler, Cmd+R on your keyboard and drag and you will automatically get a guide. And you can drag these to the edge on each side. This is so we know where the edge of the poster is. Head over to the menu bar and select Image > Canvas Size, and let's change the units to millimeters. Let's add six millimeters to the width and the height. So the width would be 215.97 and the height will be 303.1. Here under Anchor, you can choose where you want the width and the height to be added. So for example, if you want only the bottom height to be added, you can do that. But here, we want to add all around the document. So we will leave this as it is, and click OK. And you will notice the black background extending by three millimeters, right, all around the edges. Now we need to add cropmarks. And these are lines that sit around the edge of the document to show the printer where the document needs to be cut. The cropmarks are usually 0.25 point in thickness. And for this, we need to add an additional five millimeters around the poster. And this should be over white background. So let's do the same procedure. Drag guides from the ruler, and this is where we'll know where the document or the bleeds end. Head over to the menu bar. Select Image > Canvas Size. Remember we are adding five millimeters to each side of the poster, so that will be a total of 10 millimeters to the width and the height. Let's change the units to millimeters. And let's change the width to 225 and the height to 313. Select the canvas extension color to White. Now, you won't be able to see this yet because we have a color fill black, but there is a way to make it work. Let's click OK and let's take a look. Now you can see the five millimeters around the edge. Now head over to the toolbar and select the rectangular marquee tool or M on your keyboard. And here we need to select the bleed. So that would be the last guides that we created because that's the edge of the bleed. Select on the Layers panel the Color Fill layer. Now make sure that you're selecting the layer mask. Press Shift+Cmd+I, this is to invert the selection. And press Cmd+I, this is to invert what we have selected. Press Cmd+D to deselect. I will deactivate my guides so we can see better. And you might notice some black going on the edges, and this is from our images. So let's go back to the folder with the images that we created, and we just need to clean those up. Let's bring back our guides. So I'll zoom here so we can see better the detail. And the first guide out here, this is where the bleed area is. So this is our insurance that when the document is cut, we won't get the white stripe from the paper. The second guide here, this is where the cropmarks will be. So right here and right here. And this is so the printer knows where the document actually ends, the real dimension. So head over to the Layers panel and select the last layer. And from the toolbar, select the Line tool. And if it's not selected, hold down click and you will get all the other options. Here we need the Line tool. And create a line that fits in the white area. Head over to the Options bar and select black for the stroke. Set the width to 2.5 millimeters, and set the height to 0.25 millimeters. And now we have one of our cropmarks. To duplicate the shape, press Option, and let's move it over here. Cmd+T to transform. Hold down Shift so you can rotate the element evenly. Here we go. 90 degrees, press Enter. Go back to the Move tool, V on your keyboard, and let's place this on the other cropmarks. So I will deactivate my guides and you can see. So we have both of our cropmarks here. Now, on the Layers panel, select both layers, both shape layers where our cropmarks are. Right-click and select Merge Shapes. Let's zoom out of our document. Press Cmd+semicolon to bring out the other guides. And we will duplicate the layer that we created. So again, press Option and drag, and we have another set of layers. Let's zoom in, Cmd+T to transform, and let's rotate this 90 degrees, Enter. Let's go back to the Move tool, and we have our second set of cropmarks there. And I would need to do the same for the bottom. Let's deactivate our grids, and now we have all of our cropmarks. Now if you want to organize the layers properly, let's select all the cropmarks and drag them towards the folder at the bottom to create a group. And let's rename this Cropmarks. And now we're ready to export our professional PDF for print. Head over to the menu bar and select File > Save As. Set the name of your poster and where you would like it to be saved. And under Format, select Photoshop PDF. Let's save without layers. This will make the file not so heavy, especially since you're sending it to print. And make sure As a Copy is checked. Click Save, and click OK. Under Adobe Preset, make sure that you're selecting PDF/X-1a:2001, and Save PDF. Let's check if we have the PDF document correctly. So here we have PDF document. Preview, and you can see that we have the document with the cropmarks and this is ready to print. You can save a copy of this file with the cropmarks by going to File > Save As, and we will save as a Photoshop file. So we can put cropmarks at the end, and save. We've covered how to prepare Photoshop files to send to a professional printer. In the next lesson, I will show you how to prepare files for web. I'll see you there.

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