Graphic Design for Print – 16 Steps to Make Sure it Looks Great
Graphic design for print is the last stage of your artwork creation and is the point of time where you want to set up your artwork so that it prints as well as possible. Many board game and card game creators though they might know about the design and artwork creation, have little knowledge and information as to how printing works and, consequently, the best practices to make sure their artwork and graphics come out perfect. At Hero Time, we created a whole series that explains graphic design for printing in detail, and here we will go over the fundamentals to make sure you get the best results.
Graphic design for print VS Graphic design for the web
Graphic design that is viewed digitally is extremely far from printed work. It boils down to the fact that graphic design for the web can simply be exported as a jpeg or png, and the viewers of this image will see it as it looks. On the other hand, in printing, the printing engineer needs to actively control the color output in the machine and the alignment of printing areas to make sure it will come out looking great. Therefore, graphic design for print cannot be handled in the same way. It has to be handled and controlled properly.
How to make sure your graphic design for print is printed well?
There are four areas that make the most significant difference when making a graphic design for print, and you should pay attention to them:
- Setting up the specifications of your files
- Managing your colors perfectly well
- Make sure your text will be crispy sharp and not missing details
- The file is kept and handled well
It is important to note that this extensive list is necessary if you want your artwork and game to come out perfect. Though most manufacturers, publishers, and players may not notice these issues, we want to make sure you are happy with the outcome. You can also choose not to follow this list, but we will not be able to guarantee the quality of print in such a case.
You can also view all this information on our Youtube playlist
Setting up the specification of your file
- Make sure the size of your file is the same as the actual printed file. Otherwise, it might get pixelated and lose its ratio as we set it up for print. You can use our Board Game Templates Generator to generate the exact files you need with bleed.
- Make sure you add bleed and margins to your files so that no important content will be lost.
- We always recommend using gridlines to ensure the content is centered correctly. We will not be able to fix misaligned assets.
- The best software to use is Adobe Illustrator as it uses Vector Graphics instead of Pixel Graphics. However, if you must use Pixel Graphics make sure the DPI is at least 300DPI; for text-heavy artwork, it is better to have 450DPI
Managing your colors perfectly well
- From the artwork stage, make sure all the assets you create are in CMYK, not RGB.
- Use swatches in your file to ensure all the colors you use are identical throughout your components.
- To reach the best color effect on large surface areas, do not mix colors too much. Use only two colors( + black if needed) out of the CMYK color pallet. For example, C+Y+K, C+M+K, M+Y+K do not have all four colors in your mixture.
- Try your best to make sure the total percentage of colors on large surfaces does not exceed 180%. Over 180%, the ink will start becoming muddy.
- If you have gradients, make them in PSD and flatten them to a PNG.
Make sure your text comes out crisp
Text is mainly thin strokes of ink; as such, we run the risk of registration Printing registration – Wikipedia. To avoid this risk, you must do the following three things.
- All text should be in a separate layer, so we can add an additional layer to protect against registration.
- All black text should be 100%K, or if it is a different color, try to have a maximum of only two colors in it (C+Y, M+Y, M+K, etc.)
- It is best if the text is also outlined to avoid any mishaps.
File handling and sending to Hero Time
- Any assets imported from different software should be smart objects to avoid pixelation during resizing if needed.
- It is best to keep all files dynamic and not flattened so we can control colors and assets if needed.
- To make sure we can adjust colors and maximize the printing effects, the files’ assets should be layered in 3 or four layers: Background, Images & icons, text, and any templates of cutting lines.
- It is best to send all the files in adobe illustrator. However, an editable PDF or PSD file will also be good. (Only use PNG/Jpeg/flattened files if you are 100% sure your artwork is flawless.
Throughout this process, you will always be able to use the Creator Assistant to help you understand any of these points or even check your files and give you feedback.
If you need any help or clarification you can always reach out
Once your artwork is completed, we will open a cloud folder for you, where you will be able to upload your files.
How to upload your files.
Once the cloud folder is open, you can simply drag and drop files into it. Please note that once you upload, you will not be able to change the files’ names or delete them. So, make sure everything you upload is accurate before you do.
For each file type, you should create a separate folder: e.g., Box, Cards, Rulebook, Token sheets, etc.
* If your cards have different back designs, you can add one folder for each backside – this way, we will know all cards in that specific folder have the same back.
* if some of your cards need to be in the game multiple times, add the number of cards to the name. For example x8_Gator card
* You can upload the back of the cards only once to the matching folder. You do not need to upload the same back multiple times.
*As for token sheets, it is best if you already lay the tokens on the sheet yourself and upload the whole sheet as one piece of art. You can check here our standard token sheet sizes Token and Map tile sheets – Hero Time Board Game Manufacturer (herotime1.com)