Design, Prepress Fundamentals, Printing

Prepress Fundamentals – Bleed

Comments Off on Prepress Fundamentals – Bleed 30 May 2009

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What is bleed?

Bleed is a term used in printing that you’ll hear a lot.  Bleed is the portion of your work that extends to the end, and cut to size, and usually only required when you have an image that goes all the way to the end.  For example, if you have an 8.5” x 11” magazine cover design and have some of the image elements that extend beyond the cover, the image is trimmed to 8.5” x 11” size.

Bleed is the space between the cut/trim line and beyond

Bleed is the space between the cut/trim line and beyond

The portion beyond the trim/cut line is called the bleed, which enables the image to fully extend to the edges.  Because printing presses are not 100% accurate in their printing and trimming, printers require the addition of bleed.  Many printers will require at least a 0.125” (9px) bleed on each side to compensate for the printing press ‘play.’  (Most online printers in my experience have required 0.125” bleed on each side).  Printers may also add an extra ‘safety’ line, which all text and images that are critical to the print must fall inside.  This line can be thought of as a ‘just-in-case’ line when the printing press and trimming are slightly more off than optimum specifications.

Typical bleed lines on a template

Typical bleed lines on a template

How do you add Bleed?

Bleed can be easily added to any PDF file.  In this example, we’re using Adobe software (Illustrator).  First, open the image you want, then ‘Save As’ and then choose ‘PDF.’  Once you choose to save in PDF, you’ll be prompted to the window below.  Since we’re talking about printing here, we’ll choose ‘Press Quality’ from the drop-down menu on top.  Click on the ‘Marks and Bleed’ section on the left hand side, and then type in “9px” into the ‘Bleeds’ textbox.  Make sure the chain in the middle is clicked (it’s usually clicked by default) so that it applies 9px of bleed on each side.

Adding bleed on a PDF file using Adobe software

Adding bleed on a PDF file using Adobe software


Why Add Bleed?

Adding bleed to your work adds a professional and artistic touch and depending on your work, try getting creative and thinking ‘outside the box.’  If we take an 8.5” x 11” workspace as an example, although we may feel that we are restricted by the space, you can extend important elements in your work to create different types of emotions.  Try experimenting with page elements to suit your particular needs, and see what you can come up with.

Ideas on print bleed techniques

Ideas on print bleed techniques

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