Need help with uploading business card design

Discussion in 'Design and Graphics' started by p0intblank, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. p0intblank macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    I am trying to upload a business card design for my father's company. We are sending it to so we can order cards. However when I try to upload it, it gives me a message saying it does not meet the required dimensions and/or the ppi is not at least 300. The business card design is 3.5" x 2.0". From what I understand, that IS the default business card size. VistaPrint has a downloadable template showing a "safe margin" so I know my design will not be cut out. However, when I resize my business card design it fits in the safe margin, but not perfectly. Vertically it is okay, but it isn't touching the left and right sides of the margin. Is this safe? I also enlarged the document size to 3.54" x 2.05" for bleeding purposes. It says to enable full bleed, but I don't know how to do this. I have bleeding enabled in Illustrator when saving it as a PDF file, but I don't know what measurements to fill in. Can someone please give me a quick rundown on how to do this? I am great with graphics and all, but printing has always been my weak spot. I really have to study about printing and how to config my files for it.

    Thanks in advance for the help; I really appreciate it!
  2. steveedge macrumors member

    Nov 2, 2005
    Atlanta, Georgia

    I used Vista print on my last set of cards. They turned out great by the way. :)
    Make sure you follow the dimenisions exactly. The safe margin does not have to be exact but if u get to far in you could loose some of your image
    I used photoshop, I just plugged in the dimensions in to a "new" image, the size resolution, etc....that way you don't have to change anything, the specs are correct to begin with. Save on highest setting which is 12 under jpg in PS.

    You don't HAVE to know anything about printing etc...bleed or any of that if you save as a jpg. or PSD file.
    Should work the same way in Illustrator and save as an .ai file
    Their spec page says they accept ai. files.
    Good luck,
  3. p0intblank thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    I did what you suggested and created a new document in Photostop. The dimensions are 3.54" x 2.05" with a resolution of 300. Since I originally created this in Illustrator, I placed the .ai file into the new .psd and didn't touch anything after that. This is what I got after uploading to VistaPrint:


    I'm sorry, but I cannot get this to work correctly. If anyone wouldn't mind, could you send me a message to AIM? My screen name is appleaddict921. Thanks!

    Edit: Oh and BTW, I saved it as a JPEG at quality 12 for the upload process. Is this okay? It says .ai is the recommended file format, but I couldn't get to originally work.
  4. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    No, no, no...

    First of all, if you want that type and graphics to be clean and sharp AND send them a rasterized image, then you need an absolute minimum of 600ppi, preferably 1200ppi.

    But instead send them an EPS from Illustrator, convert all fonts to outlines, make sure that all colours are CMYK.

    300ppi is only suitable for images that have continous tones, like a photograph.

    Secondly, bleed refers to the area external to the trimmed area. Imagine you want to paint a picture 4 inches x 4. So you take a larger piece of paper, draw some lines to make your 4x4, then paint your picture extending over the edges of that square so when it's trimmed there will be no unpainted areas.

    Imagine your business cards printed up on a huge sheet of paper all in rows and columns next to each other, then trimmed out from that sheet like with a cookie cutters

    So the artwork size is the final trimmed size -- the size that the finished card in your hand will be. But the bleed (usually 3mm in the UK) allows for graphic elements to extend beyond the edges so that when it's trimmed, the ink will extend to the edges of the document.

    So don't enlarge your design. That's completely wrong... what you need to do is provide a document that is a little larger with the graphic elements bleeding off the edge. It then will be trimmed to the final size.

    Here's a screenshot of a book jacket in Quark to explain what I mean, it just focuses on the top-left corner. The green lines are to where the ink will be printed, but the blue is where the document will be trimmed.

    Hope this helps and good luck. :)
  5. p0intblank thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    I think I already got it. I used the template file they supply on their Web site. I opened the template, pasted the business card design into the document, and resized it so it would fit into the "Safe Margin." It's not perfect to all sides of the margin, but it looks fine on the top and bottom lines. I saved it as a PDF rather than an .ai file because it said my images were not embedded. I thought I embedded everything. I also convereted all the type to outlines. Anyway, I saved it as a PDF, uploaded it to VistaPrint and here is what I got:


    Excuse the poor image quality; that is what VistaPrint gives me when I click the preview link.

    Anyway, is this okay? It didn't give me any errors when uploading so I am guessing it is fine.

    Thanks for the help; I really appreciate it.
  6. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Only if you want that blue semi-circle to be chopped off like that before the edges. It will have white lines at the card edges, bottom and right, the way it is.

    Don't you think it would look nicer if it extended to the edges? To do that, you have to enlarge and reposition just that blue circular element alone so that it extends beyond the trim size.

    As long as all the important info is within the "Safe Margin" area, then all will be OK...

    OK? :)
  7. p0intblank thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    Yeah I was wondering about the blue shape. Okay, I'll adjust that now. Thanks a lot!


    That SHOULD be it... :) Thanks again for the help, guys. I've learned from my mistakes.
  8. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    'fraid not.

    The dotted lines are the 'safe area'. The grey crop-marks in the corners where the scissors are, are where it will be trimmed.

    You need to extend the circle beyond those trimlines to the edges of the entire rectangle, so that when it's trimmed, it'll all be nice and tidy.

    The 'safe area' is only for the kind of information that you definitely do NOT want to see fall off the edge of the card.
  9. p0intblank thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    Okay, I understand. But I have a concern: when I extend the blue shape to the rectangle's edges, I still want everything to be proportion. For instance, I still want the FCI logo and Web site URL to be close to edge of the business card like it appears now. Will it still look that way if I extend the blue shape to the rectangle's edges but have the FCI logo and site URL remain in the positions they are now?

    Sorry if it seems confusing... I just want this to be perfect. Thanks!
  10. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004

    It should do if your document is the correct size including bleed. Try it and see what the preview that comes back from VistaPrint looks like.

    Don't just pluck a figure for the complete artwork out of the air. Find out what the dimensions should be. You know what the final trimmed dimensions are (3.5" x 2.0") but you need to know what the bleed allowance is and add that to the dimensions of your artwork.

    Design is also about attention to detail.
    Why bother doing anything if you can't make it as perfect as you can? :)
  11. p0intblank thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    I am definitely a perfectionist. I can't stop working on something until I think it is complete. :p

    But anyway, for dimensions tells me the full artwork should be 3.54" x 2.05" with full bleed. That's what I don't understand. What dimensions should I fill in for bleeding when saving as a PDF? It gives me option when saving, but I don't know what to actually input. Should I do 0.04" for left and right and 0.02" for top and bottom? Thanks again.
  12. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Decimals to the second place using imperial measurements? :eek:
    How I wish the US would get clued up about metrics.

    OK, that's just over 1mm of bleed on each side.

    This way will mean you don't have to worry about bleed settings.

    So... set up a new document in Illustrator, 3.54" x 2.05"

    With your rulers on, make sure the top-left coordinates are set to 0.

    Create guides left and top, left 0.02 inches from the corner, top 0.025 inches from corner.

    Then create guides at right at 3.52" and at bottom 2.025"
    The rectangle bounded by those 4 guides shoud be exactly 3.5" x 2"
    Anything outside those lines is bleed.

    Then, open your initial artwork. Select everything and copy it, then paste it into your new document, group the selection temporarily while you're positioning things. Centre the artwork by eye or use the bottom and left edges of the blue curve as it is now to align it with the bottom and right guides...

    Then... ungroup everything. Adjust the straight paths of the blue curve so that they rest on the bottom and right-hand side of the artwork like the attached image. If you need to create additional guides on the edges of the document then do it.

    When you're happy with everything produce a PDF with fonts imbedded and don't worry about the bleed. Your PDF should measure 3.54" x 2.05", upload it and then see what the result is.
  13. MacDawg macrumors Core


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    Just want to chime in here and say BV, you are awesome!
    Patience, detail, and expertise.

    Woof, Woof - Dawg [​IMG]
  14. p0intblank thread starter macrumors 68030

    Sep 20, 2005
    New Jersey
    I can't get these guides to work the way I need them to! :confused: I just don't understand how to get these Guides to mark perfectly. I've managed to see 0.02" in my Info palette, but I can't get it go on the document since I am zoomed in to what feels like the max. Can someone PLEASE explain how to create Guides? Can't I type in the measurements and let Illustrator mark them for me?

    Or better yet, isn't there anything I can do to the file I already showed you, rather than creating a new document and dropping everything in? There has to be an easier way than copy and pasting everything.

    I'm sorry, but I never really understood, and still don't, how Guides work. I understand they are there to "guide" me with precise accuracy, but I can't seem to do it... ah!!!

    Edit: Nevermind, all is good. :) Thanks again for the help.
  15. Sparky's macrumors 6502a


    Feb 11, 2004
    OK I gotta chime in here. What version of Illustrator are you using? What size is the "Page" you're working on. Do you have "Lock Guides" turned on? (View > Guides > Unlock Guides) then go to Window > Transform to get the Transform pallet up then when you drag a ruler guide from the Ruler (cmnd + R) and drag it into position it will not change to default color until it is unselected, then you can got directly to the Transform pallet and type in the exact position of the guides. What I do for BC's is draw a rectangle exactly 3.5" x 2" and center it on the Art board, then I make sure "snap to point" is selected and drag the 0x0 of the ruler to the lower left corner of the rectangle so I have a starting reference point to measure everything else from. then for "bleed" drag your ruler guides so they are .125" (1/8") outside the rectangle. In your case the blue circular image would go to these guides instead of stopping short of the card edge. Also for an inside margin I use .125" as a "safety" margin inside from the edge of the card.

    The .125" is an industry standard for bleed. The reason being is that when the cards are printed they usually will be ganged up either 8, 10 or even 12 up on a letter size sheet of paper 8.5 x 11" and depending on quantity and the print shop running them maybe even 24 or more on larger size sheets of paper. Because Printing is not as exact a science (position wise) as we think, though these days it's very accurate, some "shifting of the image may occur during the process, and when the sheets are taken to the cutter to be trimmed down they are not always in the exact position they need to be to insure they will cut exactly on the trim marks. So this is why we "bleed an image off the edge of the trim area so if there is any movement the image will not show a white or "paper" edge on the card and the color will appear to go all the way to the edge. The same is why there is a "safe" margin inside the card as well.


    I've been in commercial printing for over 35 years and 20 or more of that has been involved with Graphic Design and Desktop Publishing. For more input or other questions you can get great help at

    It's our Forum of printing peers and some of us know a thing or two ;)

    Moderators.... forget the e-mail for some reason after I logged out again and came back.... here was my message :eek:
  16. zxckelly macrumors newbie

    Jan 11, 2010
    I was having a very similar problem and this thread cleared it up for me. No doubt this information will be useful to others as well.
  17. mlblacy macrumors 6502

    Sep 23, 2006
    the REAL Jersey Shore
    resolution of file, and resolution of output are different animals...

    Lots of good advice all around here. However I disagree slightly on the advice on resolution. Increasing the resolution of your file beyond 300dpi at 100% (with no scaling up or down with Quark afterwards) is not going to always generate a "better looking" file. It will definitely always generate a substantially larger file than is necessary. Years ago, resolution was everything... but bigger/more... is NOT always better for your source file. Output of the file is where resolution really matters, and most imagesetters run files at 2400dpi. Just because an imagesetter is making plates at 2400dpi, does not mean you should make your files 2400dpi (or even 1200 or 600dpi).

    This is still a hot topic, however the proof is in the output (and there is really very difference). Usually to "prove" the point of increasing resolution being a desired thing, folks will take screenshots where the artwork has been blown up 200%, 400%, etc. But in reality it proves little, the only place it matters is when viewed/output at 100% and compared side by side.

    After Photoshop 6, the ability to produce vector type changed everything (just make sure you save as EPS or PDF).

    Resolution is a complicated thing, but generally I say it is overrated, as long as there is sufficient res (aka 300dpi at 100% of output size), upping the res will do nothing but increase the size of the file with little or negligible qualitative effect. File sizes are for pshop files, not .ai's
    -A file 3.5"x2" @300dpi will be around 2.4mb in CMYK.
    -A file 3.5"x2" @600dpi will be around 9.6mb in CMYK.
    -A file 3.5"x2" @1200dpi will be around 38.5mb in CMYK.
    -A file 3.5"x2" @240dpi will be around 153.8mb in CMYK.

  18. tsd macrumors regular

    Aug 10, 2007
    Greensboro, NC
    Vistaprint is particularly picky about what you give them. I've used them quite a lot over the past few years when clients couldn't afford professional printing. Remember that VistaPrint is not professional—it's a completely automated digital printing company in which no humans are involved in the printing process. Once you submit an order on the website, it's immediately sent to the digital printers. When you're working with Vistaprint, do this:

    Download their template from their website for whatever design software you'll be using.
    Create you design inside their template, making sure you use a separate layer(s) from the Guides layer.
    It'll be CMYK 300 dpi with a US Web Coated (SWOP) v.2 ICC profile embedded. You can't give them anything with more than 300 dpi. Again, it's not a professional outfit. They give you speed and crazy cheap prices. That's all.
    Outline text or rasterize text (whichever program you're using).
    If your file has enough blank/white space in it, you can upload the saved template file as your graphics file, but chances are, it will exceed the maximum file size. If so (get ready to cringe), you'll have to flatten the file and Export/Save As a .jpg. Don't do "Save For Web & Devices".
    You'll be good to go after that.

    When you have more money to spend on printing, but still need speed/convenience, try or
  19. laurim macrumors 68000


    Sep 19, 2003
    Minnesota USA
    Holy topic resurrection to spam, Batman! But if anyone cares, I didn't like the quality I got at Vistaprint. It looked very "inkjet printer" grainy compared to the previous ones I had printed at PSPrint. The only reason I tried Vistaprint was that they were so cheap, and it showed. PSPrint really isn't THAT much more and they use real offset printing if you buy 250 or more. PSPrint also printed the cards at the standard 3.5"x2" size and Vistaprint's were slightly smaller 3.43"x1.93" and the paper stock was a little flimsier. The next time I print, it'll be back with PSPrint.

    Plus, with Vistaprint I accidentally ended up with a free subscription to Essence because they try to add on extras in the purchase process. Essence is a fine magazine but as a white woman I had a little trouble relating to the articles :) Mostly I didn't want to end up with endless mailings of renewals and all the peripheral junk mail you get from magazine subscriptions. The letter from the NAACP thanking me for my previous support and asking for a donation was amusing, though.

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