Adding bleed is an essential part to file setup for print production. This allows for ink to extend past the edge of the cut path of your design.
Below you will find the proper steps to add bleed to graphic designs for your printed products. We recommend at least .125″ of bleed for most products, but in some cases more or less may be appropriate based on the graphics and products ordered. This is if you want to manually add your own bleed to the artwork.
Please don’t be discouraged by this process if you do not know how to add bleed. Simply place your order and in 99% of the cases, we can use your raw graphic designs to create bleed on our end. Leaving all of the editing in our hands. Your only concern is to verify that everything looks 100% accurate on the digital proof that is sent after you order. We won’t print anything until your proof on the screen looks exactly how you want it to look!
- Create Your Art Layer
With your artwork opened in the software of choice, create a layer that has the final desired artwork on it.
- Add a Bleed Layer Below
Next, create a layer below to add the desired bleed that extends past the edge of the cut path or artwork boundaries. In most cases, it may be easier to just duplicate your “Design Layer” then simply add an offset path effect to that layer. This will allow you to add additional color or graphics that extend past the actual design layer creating a natural bleed.
In some cases with complex artwork, the amount of the offset effect may need to be tweaked in certain areas so that they do not overlap each other, or do not interfere with very acute angles of the design.
A safe offset path value with smaller graphics is .125″-.25″ but may vary on smaller or larger prints.
- Add Cut Layer
Optional but very important is to create a cut layer to indicate where the actual cut is. This shows our designers exactly where the cut is and what is considered bleed. Add this layer above all other layers and use the unite feature in the pathfinder of Illustrator to combine all shapes for a single cut layer.