Pre Press – An overview

Print ready

Getting the file ready

When you’re getting your files sent to the company or client, you must make sure that the files are PRINT READY, otherwise you will cause issues within your name and cause unwanted fees. (this can make clients angry)

Each client will have their own preferences when wanting objects printed; some will know exactly what they want, and some may not know what they want. So when printing for clients that don’t know what they want it is crucial to find the printing companies you go to’s specifications. You must make sure everything is print ready before you send to either of the clients.

While working with urban climb, a big side project im working on which will take many months.. I added printers marks on a print ready pdf, a packaged file with INDD file so that they can edit the size if they please,a print ready pdf without printers marks (just in case they have their own preferences. This is something i practice on many occasions. All printers marks should be placed depending on the state of the print, but i usually add them all.


When you are sending files to the print or client. Make sure you add a packaged file. Adding a packaged file involves you going to File > package > etc. When packaging, you will be packaging all images, files, fonts, so that the printer can change anything if anything goes wrong.

Create outlines

Another important thing to do, is to outline your fonts. When you outline your fonts it turns them into a vector file, so it basically turns into an illustrator graphic if you think of it in a way. The reason this is done, is so that when you outline your fonts, when you open it in another software where the fonts are not installed the computer will be able to maintain the fonts (as they are outlines). But always make sure you package the file as well, just in case there is something that needs to be changed!



With documents for printing, there is always a need for bleed. Bleed allows you to have images run to the edge of the page and make them full page. After the product is printed you will have the full page of bleed. If no bleed was used in the document your images would have a white border surrounding them. 

In the document and software, such as indesign you will need to set the bleed to the correct bleed. For a4 paper – A1 the bleed is usually 3-5mm in most cases. It is important to use these for commercial purposes and for clients and in general to be honest.



RGB – Red, Green, Blue

Rgb is a term used by designers, web designers, and a majority of people; But the main use for RGB. RGB is used often in web, and it is commonly used for computer display. If you print a rgb image, the image will be much darker than if you print in CMYK. When all colours are mixed, you will get a white colour in the inside of RGB, but on the otherhand CMYK creates an impure black



CMYK – cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black)

Unlike RGB, cmyk is commonly used in the print based media. When cmyk is mixed all together, you will get the value – black (but it is often impure and not a correct black. A brown tinge in colour, and faded)


C-60, M-40, Y-40 and K-100 is one of the only ways to get a pure black with CMYK. If you dont want to have faded blacks, this code is the way to go. On the otherhand, you could use pure black in Pantone values. Pantone values or spot colours are a lot better than CMYK with colour. they’re the same thing somewhat, but more pure.



Higher resolution means more detail. Higher DPI means higher resolution. Resolution is not “size”, but it’s often confused with it because higher resolution images are often bigger, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

(“Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images”, 2013)


PPI  –

PPI is the term used for pixels per inch. It is oftenly used in computers, and basically determines how many pixels there are in an inch. The more pixels there are in the inch, the better resolution and quality the image is. Photoshop runs off of PPI as it is resolution dependant.

300 PPI or dpi is the standard quality of a very sharp and high quality image. It’s the quality often wanted for print.


DPI  –  Dots per inch

The amount of dots per inch, or DPI is translated into the printer as it prints each dot on the paper, or print. This then determines whether the print comes out bad, pixelated/dotty and bad. Commonly, you would want a high resolution for printing. Just remember that next time. When used in web, the standard DPI is to be 72 so that the files can be loaded as quickly as possible. On the other hand, print should always be 300 DPI because the translation of computer to printer may not be the best of quality if you use a 72 DPI in print.








Interesting comparison of 300 DPI  vs 72 DPI  found via           




LPI  –  Lines per inch

I don’t think I’ve heard this term as much, maybe printers use it? or it is not used as much? But from what I’ve seen, most printers use lines to print images and elements onto the paper. The printer uses halftones and divides them into cells. Inside the cells there are spots, they are called halftone spots, and these spots are what make up an image. Depending on the quality of the printer, the LPI determines how close together the cells in the grid together are. The LPI is dependent on how the printer is and how the paper is. The lower it is, the worse your image looks when printed (unless you want to actually get that effect, then it is okay).

Newspapers are often known to use an LPI setting of 85, according to (Bear, 2016)

If you want to scan with LPI, you will need to know the output order of the final so that you can arrange the final SPI and scan at the proper resolution.




Dot Gain & Dot Loss

Dot gain is how the ink touches the paper, and how the paper absorbs it. it is the quality of the dot spread and the quality of the paper that you have. It will make your image a lot darker than it should be. You can correct dot gain inside of photoshop.

here is a video of how dot gain works and how to fix it yourself,


Dot Loss is very similar to dot gain, but it does the exact opposite. The size of the ink dots reduce as they are placed Tiny dots such as 1% ans 2 % dots may not even appear on the surface and this gives the image a very…light and contrast highlighted image. It doesnt look too good.





Pritchard, G. (2009). The Print Guide: Image resolution for printing – LPI vs DPI a.k.a. LPI vs PPI a.k.a. LPI vs SPI. [online] Available at: 

Crux Creative. (2012). RGB VS CMYK: WHEN TO USE WHICH AND WHY. [online] Available at: 

P. Lawler, B. (2016). Know thy enemy: understanding dot gain and its effects. [online] Available at:, (2016). Photoshop CS5: What is dot gain? | tutorial. Available at: 

Bear, J. (2016). LPI – Halftone Resolution. Tech.from

Understanding DPI, Resolution and Print vs. Web Images. (2013). from

Stanley, B. (2009). Printing & Prepress Basics. Design & Illustration Envato Tuts+. from–vector-2386

Preparing Your Files for Print – Stoney Creek Wine Press. (2016). Retrieved 29 April 2016, from









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