Bleed! Urgh! What’s that all about then?

A image with crop marks
A diagram showing how artwork that is to go to bleed is prepared for the printing press.

OK, so you’d like an A4 leaflet with a picture that goes right to the edge of the paper. To make that happen, the picture needs to go beyond where the paper will be trimmed (ie, a bit larger than A4). This means that when the paper is cut to size, the ink will go right to the edge. Content (image, text or simply colour) can be ‘bled’ off one or more edges.

How does this affect me?

If you were to ask us to create some artwork for you, and we are not organising the print on your behalf, we may ask you what the bleed and trim sizes are.

The trim size is the actual finished size (eg 210 x 297mm for an A4 job). The bleed size is the trim size plus the recommended bleed amount. If your printer has asked for a 5mm bleed, then the artwork will need to be 220 x 307mm to allow an extra 5mm on each edge.

What can I do in future?

If you are supplying images to us that you would like to bleed off the edge, please bear in mind that a few millimetres of that picture will be trimmed away. If you are sourcing your own print, we’ll need to know what bleed and trim size your printer requires.

If you’re asking us to provide you with artwork that you will print in your office or at home, please be aware that only specialist printers, or printers for home computers that are sold with ‘print to bleed’ capabilities are able to print to the edge of the page. If you don’t have one of these printers, it means that you will have an unprinted margin at the edge of every page, so we would need to make sure that the artwork was created with this in mind. We’re always happy to show you examples or chat it through over the phone if it’s something you’d like a better idea about.

How do I get my colours to stay the same?

Pantone swatches
This is a page from a Pantone swatch book. Designers and printers live by these books.

Traditional printing presses normally mix percentages of colours on 4 separate plates called CMYK (we’ve previously written a blog post about these) to arrive at the final colour. For most jobs, they are sufficient to produce enough accuracy in the final materials. However, where specific colours are a necessity, we suggest using a spot (or match) colour.

A spot colour is simply a specific ink that is premixed to a recipe, and that can be used either alone or in conjunction with other spot colours or CMYK inks. The print industry standard for pre-mixed inks is the Pantone Matching System (PMS) and there are over 1100 colours to choose from, including metallics like gold and bronze. Another use for spot inks is for adding special effects like UV varnishes or fluorescents.

How does this affect me?

Spot colours give you greater accuracy if specific colours are a must. Please bear in mind, however, that the addition of each spot colour may increase the overall cost of your job. Most clients limit spots to 2 or 3 colours, which are usually enough to accurately portray their company’s identity.

What can I do in future?

If you want to use spot inks for any reason, or have specific Pantone numbers from a previous job, it’s always a good idea to chat through how it will look and how other factors such as paper stock, matt or gloss lamination etc will affect it. We’re always happy to give our thoughts if you’d like to get in touch.

Why do colours change when I print?

RGB, CMYK and visible colour gamuts
The differences in the colours the human eye can see vs. the CMYK (print) and RGB (screens) colour gamuts

Firstly, you need to understand the difference between RGB and CMYK. RGB (Red-Green-Blue) is the colour system used on computer monitors, TV screens and digital cameras. It has the ability to show exactly 16,777,216 colours and as it is lit from behind, each colour is bright and vibrant. CMYK is used on printed material (a magazine or leaflet for example). Cyan (blue), Magenta (pink), Yellow and Black (the K stands for K colour) are used in varying quantities and can accurately portray anything from flesh tones to landscapes. CMYK has a far more limited colour gamut (range) than RGB.

How does this affect me?

You may find that the colours look different on a PDF proof that you have printed out to what you see on screen. There are many reasons for this, but the fundamental point is that the colours on screen will be much brighter and more vivid due to the difference between RGB and CMYK. In addition, the types of ink used in desktop printers may vary between manufacturers and are vastly different from the inks used on a printing press. Different papers and finishes will also change the way colours will look.

What can I do in future?

We always recommend a proof from the printer for any job where colour is an important factor. There are various types of proofs for colour matching and we will be writing a blog post on these in the near future. If you would like to chat through the differences and how they might affect you, we’re always on hand, even if you don’t have a definite project in mind.


Why do I need a Brand/Corporate Identity?

What is a Corporate Identity?

Branding and Corporate Identity (CI) are terms you hear bandied about a lot, but what exactly do they mean? Basically, they refer to the image or persona that an organisation wants to portray to the world. Your brand or logo is a very important component of how you are perceived, but CI is really the face and reputation that you want to present to the world. Whilst they need to blend together, CI covers more than just the logo. It does not mean though that everything you have on show in your office or workshop needs to have your logo on it. You may choose a different colour scheme for your lobby next time you redecorate, perhaps though: a pale blue identity probably wouldn’t sit well with a bright red reception desk, for instance.

How does this affect me?

Corporate Identity/branding is something every business needs to think about, whether large or small. Making sure that you have a consistent and memorable brand is increasingly important in today’s business culture – your identity is the first point of contact between you and your customers and it defines your integrity. Just think how many times a day you use your phone to surf the net – and how frustrated you get when the site doesn’t work or takes an age to load? Or how you feel when a customer complains about bad customer service they have received from your staff? Or when someone hands you a screwed up leaflet to promote their business that is in a different style to the business card they gave you at the same time? These are all examples of reputation damage; potential customers might think “if they aren’t worried about that, what else aren’t they worried about?”

Where do I go from here?

If you’re finding the thought of this all a bit overwhelming, don’t worry you’re not alone! Most businesses need at least a mobile phone friendly website, letterhead/email template and business cards, so if you haven’t got them, it probably is something you should at least start thinking about. Although you will need to invest a little, with careful planning and the right design partner and printer, you can make your budget go further than you might think – and should bring you a return on your investment.

Thinking out loud with someone you trust is a good first step. Most agencies are happy to meet for a chat to see where you’re at and if they can help. Not all agencies suit all clients, so this is a good way to see if you think you can work together. It helps everyone if you have a bit of an idea of the image you want to portray, what you think you need, what you don’t like and when you want it all by. Of course, you also need to have an idea of how much you are willing to spend; remember, digital print makes smaller print runs economically viable and not everyone needs a content management system (CMS) website. We’ll be blogging about budgets and the different types of website soon, so come back for some more pointers.

An extreme example of managers not keeping an eye on how their identity was represented: Facebook

About a month ago, we posted this Ben Barry blogpost on our Facebook page. We thought you might like to read it here because it’s a good example:

“Facebook’s own internal (salaried) team didn’t keep an eye on how their logo, branding and other icons were being used and doctored during a time of furious exponential growth.”

This article shows a fantastic (and quite extreme) example of how much work is involved to bring everything back into line if you don’t keep those checks as you go along. Brand guidelines are issued for a reason! Thankfully, few companies would have such a large net to reel in…

Be warned, this is a long methodical case study, but it does have lots of illustrations and is well worth a read if you run a company of any size.

Artboards in Photoshop CC

Via the Adobe Creative Cloud YouTube channel

Brad Ellis, freelance app designer, gets his hands on a future version of Photoshop CC and shares a SNEAK PEEK of a few new design features coming soon to Photoshop CC 2015. Here’s a clip of one the features — Artboards.

Seeing this selfie toaster just reminded me of a conversation at 10 am this morning…


“I’m hungry. Were you making breakfast earlier?”

“Yeah [pause] about 7am.”


The selfie toaster

Apple Finally Learns AI Is The New UI


But is it too late to beat Google?

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like,” Steve Jobs once said. “That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

An interesting article about the emergence of Siri as an intelligent assistant in the upcoming iOS9 update…


It’s good to talk, as an old advertising campaign put it, and while there’s a countless number of blogs devoted to design out there, we wanted a space to have our say about the wide world of design. We thought about having a blog on Tumblr or Medium, and while we might well have a presence on both of those fine venues, we thought it would be more appropriate to have our own place on the internet alongside our main site.

We’ll be regularly pointing out stuff that excites us and makes us think, as well as sharing our own case studies and bits & bobs from the studio. It’ll be informative, interesting and eclectic, and never, ever boring.