Frequently Asked Questions

How Should I Set Up My Files?

Build your files at full size with an 1/8″ bleed without any crop or trim marks. If you are unable to submit files with bleed we will try to extend the elements and/or scale up to create the bleed. If your final size is larger than your software can accommodate then work at 1/2 size or 1/4 size.

Send every individual print as a separate page or file, with the page size at the print size plus bleed. We will gang up and/or impose them to get the best use of material.

If you are creating for a multi page small format order set it up as reader spreads, not printer spreads. And don’t forget that blank pages are just as important as printed pages.

What Types of Files Should I Use?

The best file format for vector and composite files is PDF. Use TIFF or High Quality/Low Compression JPEG for raster only files.

What Types of Files Can I Use

We accept native Adobe Creative Suite and QuarkXPress files but you must be sure to include all necessary components such as fonts and placed images. We also accept any raster format that can be opened in Adobe Photoshop. Microsoft Publisher files rarely print correctly so we do not accept them. Fortunately, Publisher can create high quality PDFs but the settings can be confusing so feel free to contact us for assistance.

What If I Must Use One of The Microsoft Office Products?

Microsoft Office files (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel) often cause problems so we would prefer that you send PDFs instead. Recent versions of Office can easily create PDFs and we are happy to help walk you through the process of creating PDFs from them. Carefully check every page of the PDFs to be sure nothing has changed from how they looked in Office! If you are unable to create PDFs we can usually work from Office files but it will add a minimum of one day to the production time and we may need screen captures to see how your files look on your computer.

What is Bleed?

Bleed is confusing because it can refer to both the design of the piece and how it is set up for printing. Bleed for printing means that you when save your document for printing you create a document with excess that will be trimmed off in the production process. Any content that goes to the trim edge should continue past to the bleed size. Bleed in your print files is necessary to account for the material shift that occurs in the printing and finishing processes AND to let them work properly with our CNC routers and cutters.

What Resolution Do I Need?

For most large format prints with close viewing distances the raster image components should be 100ppi at the print size. Hard-edged raster components (e.g. text done in Photoshop) can be up to 200 ppi at the print size. For longer viewing distance banners and signs you can go lower without any visible difference.

Small format prints such as flyers and brochures should have the raster components at 300ppi.

What About Color Matching?

The short answer is that we use an ICC color managed workflow for consistent and predictable output. We honor embedded input profiles and if there are none we assign our defaults of U.S. Web Coated (SWOP) v2 for CMYK, ColorMatch RGB for RGB, and Dot Gain 20% for grayscale. We do not adjust your files to “improve” the color. Please see the color matching guidelines for more information.

I Need a Distraction. Is There a Long Yet Fascinating History of Mousegraphics?

Mousegraphics is a local family-owned business started in 1989 when digital color printing was just beginning. As the digital color division of Arizona Blueprint, taking our name from the radical new-at-the-time computer mouse, we used a Canon CLC-1 color copier and the original Fiery print controller. We soon added an Iris 3047, the first “photo quality” large format printer, while others were trying (and being disappointed by) the early ENCAD NovaJet inkjet printers designed for the CAD industry. We continued with evolutionary improvements in the CLC small format printers and large format inkjet technology until 1996 when we added the revolutionary Durst Lambda 130.

A massive room filling box, the Lambda uses red, green, and blue lasers to write a continuous tone color image directly to true RA-4 photographic films and papers. Sold through Kodak at the time, we took delivery of the fifth Lambda 130 in the United States. However we were pushed back to be the ninth one installed as Kodak scheduled traditional photo labs ahead us, even though we had the digital experience to easily incorporate a new output device while the photo labs had to move to an entirely new workflow. Perhaps an early clue that Kodak was not going to do well in the transition to digital? Another hint may have been that although Kodak sold the Lambda 130 their own papers and films didn’t work well in it, so we and most others used Agfa materials.

Soon after we installed the Lamba we also entered into the then new area of ICC color managed work flows. From the earliest attempts at searching out specialty software for applying output profiles to postscript files (not always successful) and to hit Pantone colors as closely as possible (again, not always working as advertised), to testing many RIPS as they began to incorporate color management, to the relatively successful state of RIPS with integrated color management today, we have been at the forefront of ICC work flows. And the more successful we are at it the less you are aware of it – you just get predictable repeatable color from every media on every printer.

Evolutionary changes continued as aqueous inkjet printers improved dramatically with similar improvements occurring in the solvent and eco-solvent printers used for banners and adhesive vinyls, and we have continually upgraded to stay at the leading edge of these technologies. The next revolutionary change came in 2004 when we installed a UV cured inkjet printer that printed directly to rigid substrates.

Eliminating the need to first print on roll media then mount the prints to rigid boards, this allowed us to offer more cost-effective signs and posters when fine-art image quality is not needed. The UV cured inks are weather resistant so when printed on to suitable boards these prints can be used outdoors without adding an over laminate, again saving time and money. Combined with our other printer technologies this puts us where we are today – with a full spectrum of printers and materials so that we can provide the best products for your needs.

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