Detailed Guidelines

  1. Color matching: Our goal is to provide consistent, predictable output and print your files as you have created them. 


    We use an ICC color managed workflow with custom output profiles for all media and printers. If your files include embedded source profiles we honor them. If they do not, we assign our defaults of U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for CMYK, ColorMatch RGB for RGB, and Dot Gain 20% for grayscale. We assume that you have worked with a calibrated monitor and ICC compliant software and that you have adjusted/selected the colors as you intend them to print. We do not adjust your files to “improve” the color as our goal is accurate color, not pleasing color.


    You can use CMYK, RGB, and Grayscale color modes individually or combined in the same document. If you are printing the same color in both raster and vector components be sure to use the same color mode for both.


    Pantone swatch books are commonly used to specify colors but Pantone spot colors were developed for offset printing using custom inks for each color. They are made from inks with a wide range of vivid pigments and many do not reproduce well in the the four color process ink printing we use. If you have a printed swatch book that shows both the spot color ink and the CMYK equivalent we are frequently closer to the spot swatch then the offset printing CMYK swatch. Metallic spot colors will not have a metallic look, but will have a similar hue. If you use Pantone colors select them from the swatch lists in your applications and leave them as spot colors, without modifying the names. Our software looks for the named spot colors and can match them more closely then when working from the CMYK mix.


    Unlike offset printing where hundreds or thousands or more copies are printed it is not practical to produce a full size proof print for a final run of one or two. If you are unsure how your files will print we can print a reduced size test print or full size strip of a section of your print. The charge for this varies depending on the size of your order but will always add additional time to your job.


    Color matching as a PDF


  2. Contour cutting:  To have your order cut to a custom shape (i.e. not a rectangle) you will need to provide a cut path in your file. Please follow these steps to create cut paths in your files. We may not be able to work with different methods, and even when we can there will be additional charges and your order may be delayed.

    A. Create a vector path for your cut with as few control points as possible. Creating a cut path from vector objects typically works well. Turning a Photoshop selection into a path often generates excessive control points resulting in a path too complex for our cutter software to interpret. If a Photoshop path has more control points than it would have if you created it with the pen tool then it may not work.
    B. Bleed your image 1/8" beyond the cut path.
    C. The cut path will need to be a vector path stroked with a named spot color so if you have created it in Photoshop you must export the path and move to Illustrator or InDesign. Place the raster image and overlay the cut path on it. If you are working in a vector program simply create the path there.
    D. Create a spot color swatch named CutContour and set it to 100/25/50/25 (CMYK)
    E. Stroke the cut path with the CutContour spot color and set the stroke width to 1 point.

    Contour cutting set up as a PDF


  3. White ink: White ink is commonly used behind colors and as a spot color on clear or non-white materials. It can also be used to cover the entire print for second surface prints on clear substrates. We can print full page white from "normal" files by selecting an option at our RIPs. We can do the same to print white under all color but we don't recommend it. It often shows artifacts such as white dropouts in raster components and harsh white under soft edges or gradients, so we recommend you build white into your files.

    For white under color or white spot color please follow these steps when creating your files. We may be able to work from files not set up in this manner but there will be additional charges and time required.In Adobe Illustrator and InDesign:

    Make a named spot color swatch and name it White_Ink. Set it to 1% Yellow if you want to see it as white or set it to 50% Magenta to make white ink areas visible as magenta. If you are using white only as a "normal" color and not under any other then just use this spot color as you would use any other spot color. If you are using white under any other color than continue through the following steps.

    Create a layer on top of all others for white elements.

    Put all white elements on the white layer and fill/stroke them with the White_Ink spot. This includes white that prints over or under color and areas of white only. You can use transparency and set opacity on these white elements.

    In Attributes, set all white elements to Overprint Fill and Stroke.

    We will choke the white as necessary. If you set the choke yourself you must inform us.


    In Adobe Photoshop:

    Create a channel to use for white ink and name it White_Ink.

    Put all white elements on that channel as black where you want white to be used.

    We will choke the white as necessary. If you set the choke yourself you must inform us.

    White ink set up as a PDF

  4. Choosing between a Sign and a Poster: Under Sign and Poster products you will find some of the same print and finishing materials. There is a great deal of overlap in the appropriate uses for each so it is difficult to set hard rules on which to choose. You need to consider:


    Are people looking for the information you’re presenting or do you want to convince them to read it?
    How will it fit into the surroundings?
    How close can people get to it?
    Will people glance at it and move on or is there detailed information to be studied?


    The differences between the sign version and the poster version are print speed/quality, acceptable imperfections in the finished product, and price. A sign print could have printing and/or finishing imperfections visible at close to medium viewing distances but costs less than a poster. An ordinary person viewing the sign may notice them but the imperfections are not distracting and do not detract from the legibility of the sign.


    Typically a sign is used when your target audience is looking for specific information, they’ll read it and move on, and its “look and feel” is appropriate to its environment. Function (and budget) are more important then form.


    A poster is the better choice if any of the sign requirements are not met or when presentation is important. For example, presentation is important if the content is something your are promoting or selling because you want the perceived quality of the poster to be up the quality of your product.


    If you have a project and are not sure whether to select a sign or a poster please call us at 480-894-1992 and we will be happy to help you make the best choice.  But if you are in a hurry, a poster will always work as a sign so it is the safe choice!

    Choosing between a Sign and a Poster as a PDF