How To Create a Print Ready Business Card Design

Hello everyone this is Chris from Spoon Graphics back with another video tutorial Today I'm going to run through the process of designing a business card and talk about some of the important things to consider when designing for print

It's super important that you get things like bleed, color mode and resolution right when you're creating your artwork, otherwise you might end up having your files rejected by the printer, having to start again from scratch or even worse, receiving hundreds of prints back that look nothing like your design! So hopefully this guide will cover each step and ensure your print projects go smoothly Business cards are a common printed product that are fairly simple to design, but before you start, make sure you receive specific artwork instructions from the printer you're going to use Every company has their own preferences, so the settings I'm using in this tutorial might not match up exactly to what your printer wants, but at least you'll know what they're referring to when they say stuff like trim size and bleed size We're going to use a mix of Illustrator and Photoshop to make the most of each application's strengths The overall design will be composited in Illustrator, so we'll start there

Create a new document and enter the dimensions of the business card in the artboard size settings A common business card size is 88x55mm, but again, make sure you check with your printer first on their exact product specs If you're in the US, you'll probably find the measurements are in inches as opposed to millimeters The print firms I've used required 3mm bleed, so enter 3mm in one of the bleed fields and press Tab to apply it to all sides Bleed is basically some padding around the edge of the design which is cut off during the printing process

It ensures that you don't end up with tiny slithers of white paper along the edge of your prints if the machine isn't lined up exactly We're designing for print, so select the CMYK color mode so we're working in Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black inks as opposed to RGB light Then most business cards are double sided, so increase the number of artboards to 2 The main white area of the artboard is the finished business card size, also known as the trim size The red outline indicates the bleed area which any backgrounds will need to extend to

It's also wise to highlight a safe area within your document This not only makes sure your important elements like a name or logo aren't too close to the trim area that they risk being chopped off, it also helps balance your design by applying some margin around the edge The size of the safe zone is entirely up to you but 5-10mm shifts your elements inwards enough to look neat You can highlight this area using guides, or draw a rectangle then right click and select Make Guides I want a black background for my card design, so I'll grab the rectangle tool and draw a shape that covers the entire bleed area, clearing out the stroke to leave just the fill colour

A black background sounds simple enough, but there's a whole plethora of different blacks in print design If you move the colour picker to black you'll notice it's made up 0,0,0 in RGB, which means there's no light so it's as dark as you can get, but look over at the CMYK values and they're all over the place, totalling at 329% – This is way too much ink to be printed when you consider the general limit is around 260% There's a basic 100% K black, which uses just the black ink from the standard CMYK process colours This is good for text because just using one ink out of the four CMYK colours means you'll get the sharpest possible print, but when it's applied to a large area it can look a bit washed out Rich black is the term used for mixes of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black that result in a deeper black

A common one on 50, 40, 40, 100, which refers to the percentages of the four CMYK colours you set in your software and the amount of ink printed with each plate The trouble is, this particular colour mix uses all four plates, so it has a high risk of misregistration which can cause fuzzy text, often seen on cheap newspaper prints A couple more common blacks are warm black and cool black, which mix 100% K with 50% Cyan or Magenta These two recipes only use two plates so it's much safer to use with small text while still darkening the black The difference between them, as their names suggest, is one has more of a cooler blue tone, whereas the other has a warmer browny red tone

I'm going to use blue elsewhere in my design so I'll go with cool black to complement it Set up the colour manually by entering the relevant percentages in the CMYK values You can now begin building your business card design by bringing in a logo Scale it to size and align it to the safe zone guides There's no white ink in printing, unless it's a super specialist print

Giving something a white fill in your software will translate to the other elements being knocked out to allow the paper to show through When entering the text for your print design, 6pt is usually the lowest you'll want to go A business card is held up close so you can get away with generally smaller type, but be careful if you're using elegant fonts with high contrast, there's a point where fine lines become unprintable The slab-serif Achille font I'm using is pretty robust so it can handle 6pt even in its Regular weight One thing to keep in mind when designing for print is the paper stock forms a large part of the final design, which you don't get to see on screen

A lot of people try to add gradients and drop shadows to make their designs more interesting, but these often just muddy the final print An area of flat colour might look boring on screen, but when its printed you'll see the texture of the paper with a matte or glossy finish In my design I'm enclosing the main name and contact info in a white box, which needs extending up to the bleed area The text within this area needs to be black I could keep using cool black with 50% Cyan, but there's not really any point seeing as the text isn't a large enough area to see the difference

All it does is risk misregistration, so instead normal 100% K is the better option For the other side of my business card design I'm going to leave the background white but make use of a photo, so Photoshop comes into play here to use its strengths as an image editor We need to recreate the business card document size in PSD format, so create a new document and change the dimensions to millimeters Photoshop doesn't have a separate bleed setting so we need to calculate the total dimensions 88mm plus 3mm on each side equals 94mm, and likewise 55+3+3=61mm

All print work needs to be 300ppi, so change the resolution to 300 pixels per inch, then set the color mode to CMYK We can't see where the actual trim line is but setting the safe zone up using guides will make sure the elements are laid out nicely A quick way to do this is to set the size of a marquee then snap the guides to it I want to have the logo and a tagline on this side of the card so I'll paste in the logo graphic from Illustrator and type out the text with the relevant font Usually it's advised to add all your text in Illustrator because it's made in crisp vectors rather than fuzzy pixels, but I'm going to overlay a photo, so Photoshop is the best option in this scenario

I've downloaded this space scene from Shutterstock Pasting it into the document will automatically convert it to CMYK and reformat it to 300ppi This is a nice high resolution stock photo so I've actually got to scale it down a lot You don't want to try and use small images from the web because they'll only be the size of a postage stamp in print terms, unless you upscale them, which will make them look totally ugly The effect I'm looking for can be created using a layer mask

Filling it with black hides the entire photo, then the areas I want visible can be selected and filled white Use Photoshop any time you're working with textures and images as part of your print designs, then add text and logos in vector format over the top in Illustrator When you're done, save the file as a JPG using the normal Save As command so it retains the resolution and colour mode Back in Illustrator this background can be placed onto the artboard for the other side of the business card Before exporting the final print file it's wise to outline your fonts by pressing CMD+A to Select All, then CMD+Shift+O to Create Outlines

This eliminates any chance of your font not being picked up when it's opened on the printer's computer and defaulting to something boring Go to File > Save As and select PDF There's some options to add printer's marks but unless your printer has specifically asked for them just leave them off There's also a PDF setting here that might be required This file now contains both business card sides in one print ready document

You can give the file a quick check over by opening it in Adobe Acrobat Look for the Output Preview tool and toggle the various plates to see how the design will be printed using the 4 process colours In my design you can see Magenta and Yellow aren't used at all on the first side and just black is used on the name area On the other side, the photo is made up of various percentages of all four colours If you're new to print design this video might have bombarded you with loads of information, but hopefully it was a comprehensive guide to the things you need to consider when setting up a print file

If you did find the video useful a thumbs up to help spread the word would be really appreciated and if you want to stick around for more, remember to hit that subscribe button So thank you very much for watching and I'll catch you all later

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