File Preparation

Creating your files. Your files should always be in CMYK mode. The Fifth Colour requires all files to be supplied as PDF fomat. If your job is single sided then you simply supply a one-page pdf. If your job has two pages i.e.: a front and a back then we need a two-page pdf file, the first page of your pdf will be the front page and the second the back page. Please note that files supplied as: EPS or JPEG, will all have to be manually corrected by our design studio and may incur an additional setup fee.

Trim marks. Trim marks must be included with all jobs (trim area is the final size of your print job).

Bleed. We require that there be 1/8” of bleed on all files. Please ensure to keep any text or important design away from the bleed area. The bleed extending past your trim area allows for a small amount of movement that may occur when your work is being cut to size.

Supply all artwork in CMYK. All files supplied are required to be submitted as CMYK. If files are supplied as RGB or Spot Colours, we will convert files to CMYK automatically and this may cause colours to vary in the final output.

Print quality and resolution. For the highest quality finish product, we highly recommend supplying files as High Resolution. Resolution is the number of pixels within an image. The higher the resolution, the better the picture, however keep in mind that the file size is directly related to image resolution, and dimensions. We suggest making your artwork at 300dpi when it’s at full size.

Ink coverage. When printing, the maximum ink coverage possible is 400%. However, if we were to print a file with this amount of ink coverage, it will take a long time to dry and effect delivery times.
We recommend the maximum ink coverage to be set at 260%, anything over may result in many print related problems such as drying and cracking. This means the colours that you use should contain less than a total of 260% when you add together cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
If you require a deep black colour or as we call it, rich black, the best combination is 100% Black, 30% Cyan, 20% Magenta, and 20% Yellow. However, do not apply rich black to text.

Fonts. We require that all fonts you use in your files be outlined or embedded. This means that we can print them even if we don’t have those particular fonts and they will look exactly the way you want them to. You may need a license to embed certain fonts, so please don’t send the fonts with your design as it is not legal.

Gradients. Sometimes in printing, banding can occur. To avoid banding when printing a gradient, all gradients should be created in Photoshop and saved as an .eps file and placed into the working document (either inDesign or Illustrator). Create the gradient in PhotoShop, apply “Noise” (Filter > Noise > Add Noise), and then to smooth the noise apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur….) and then save as.

Bleed Area



Does my artwork have 0.25″ bleeds?
The Fifth Colour requires a 0.25″ bleed around the perimeter of your artwork to ensure accurate cutting (e.g., artwork for a 4″x6″ postcard should extend to 4.25″ x 6.25″). If your image has a white border on all four sides, bleeds are recommended but not required. If your image is not white on all four sides, you must include bleeds in print-ready files. Before submitting your artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.

Bleeds, Cut Line and Safety
Bleeds are required in all artwork with an image extending to one of the borders. Add 1/8 of an inch (0.125″) to each side to allow for cutting. For example, for a 4″ x 6″ postcard with full bleed, the image size should be submitted at 4.25″ x 6.25″ (red box).

0.125″ (1/8″) on each edge of the card will be trimmed off during the cutting process. This will leave you a 4″ x 6″ standard post card (black box).

Your type (text) should be 0.125″ (1/8″) inside the cut box on each side. This will guarantee your text to not be cut off from your artwork (blue box).

Colour Mode



Do I need to use CMYK color mode?
Yes. If your files are submitted using any other color standard, such as RGB or Pantone, they will be converted to CMYK during preflighting. Conversion from one color standard to another may cause colors to shift. Before submitting your digital artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.

CMYK Color Mode
Color mode must be in CMYK to be a print ready file. If file(s) are submitted using any other color mode, such as RGB or Pantone, the file(s) will be converted to CMYK during preflighting. Conversion from one color standard to another may result in color shift or color dropping out.

A hard copy proof is available in most of our products to view an accurate color representation of your artwork before going to press.

How to alter color mode in Photoshop
To convert your RGB file to CMYK in Photoshop. go to Image>Mode>CMYK




Why is resolution important?
Resolution also known as DPI (Dots Per Inch) can be described as the number of dots that fit horizontally and vertically into a one-inch space. Generally, the more dots per inch, the more detail captured and the sharper the resulting image.

For an image to print properly, the image must be at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) at the final output size. If your file is not 300 dpi, you can not simply increase the dpi from a low resolution to a higher one by increasing the DPI in your imaging program.  The printed result will be a blurry image.

How to check resolution in Illustrator
To determine the resolution of an image placed in Illustrator:
1 Go to Window – Document Info
2 Click on small arrow at the right of Document window information
3 Click on Embedded Images




Does my artwork have borders?
If your artwork contains borders, you must make sure all borders are 1/4 (0.25) of an inch wide on each side of your artwork. In addition, you need to add a 1/8 (0.125) of an inch bleed on each side of your artwork. This approach will ensure proper cutting and help the finished product maintain a symmetrical appearance. If your border is not at least 1/4 (0.25) of an inch wide on each side, you risk creating a border that looks uneven.

The cutting process for printed materials has a mechanical tolerance of about 0.0625 or 1/16 of an inch.When using a border in your artwork, it is essential that your design use at least 0.25 or 1/4 of an inch of white space from your border to the cut line to maintain a symmetric appearance.


What if my file has missing fonts?
It is important that you supply all fonts used in your layout. If you do not supply fonts in your artwork file, we will request that you resubmit your files with fonts included.

If you have vector artwork and your file is missing fonts, you can open your file in Illustrator, select “Create Outlines”, save your fonts, re-save your artwork file, and then upload it.

If you have artwork that is rasterized, you can open your file in Photoshop and select “Flatten the Layers”, re-save your artwork file, and then upload it.

Please do not submit your fonts separately from your file because it is critical that we receive your print-ready file with fonts included to avoid any printing issues.

How do I convert text to outlines?
All text within your files must be converted to outlines with the outline set to zero to eliminate the need for fonts. Before submitting your artwork files, you may want to review our file preparation guidelines.


To flatten transparency and outline the fonts please use the below instruction.

  1. Select All (Ctrl A / Command A)
  2. Object > Flatten Transparency > Make sure to check
  3. “Convert All text to Outlines”
  4. “Convert All Strokes to Outlines”
  5. Make sure to uncheck
  6. “Preserve Alpha Transparency”
  7. “Preserve Overprints and Source Color”
  8. Save file as PDF


To outline your fonts in InDesign do the following instruction.
Go to each page and Select All (Ctrl A – PC / Command A – Mac)
Type > Create Outlines
File > Export > Save file as Acrobat file

How to check if my font/object dropped out.
Select (Check) “Overprint Preview” to see if any font or object dropped out if compared to the original artwork.

Advanced > Overprint Preview
The choice of substrate is influenced by a number of key parameters including the requirements of print performance, product protection, design features and requirements of sustainability.