Supplying your own design
We love to work with designers and are happy to talk to you about printing your designs. Be sure to read through our guidelines below before you supply your artwork to us. If in doubt please feel free to send us your files and we can give you some feedback and suggestions.
COLOUR INK Choose colours using the PMS Solid Uncoated book only, don’t use process, RGB, CMYK, LAB, or Indexed colours. Keep in mind that each colour increases the cost of printing, so 1-2 colours are best, but 3-4 colours (or more if you are truly adventurous) are feasible. If you are considering a metallic ink in your design it’s good to note that these inks lose their lustre when printed onto uncoated stocks. Dark colours work best for text as letterpress inks are somewhat transparent and can appear lighter in large areas (see Large Solids for details). Please note that colours can vary slightly from print to print due to the unique nature of letterpress printing. We also have hand mixed a selection of ink colours you may wish to choose from (view the expanded version).
BLIND / NO INK When setting up your design a blind impression should still be marked as a spot colour, despite not using ink it still requires a plate and a press run so it qualifies as one colour in your design (eg. a blind impression pattern and black text would be a two colour run).
FOIL We have a range of foil colours to choose from, artwork for foil should be indicated as a spot colour. Foil printing is an upgrade for one colour in your design (eg. a foil only would be a one colour run, but a foil and coloured text would be a two colour run).
Avoid using gradients, shadows and other special effects. If this is something you would like to include, please talk to us to see if there is a way to achieve this within the confines of letterpress plates.
With letterpress, the best effect will come from a design featuring dark ink on light paper. If you wish to use light or white ink on dark paper it may be best to consider foil printing. If you are set on incorporating a large area of dark colour consider duplexing a dark coloured paper to a light coloured paper (limited to certain stocks). That said, if you really want light ink on dark paper, be prepared for paper show through. We use translucent inks and printing light ink on dark paper will be like your first coat of primer on a dark wall: it doesn’t give a pure and even coverage. If using a pure white ink or metallic ink, we have the option to run a job through the press twice, at an additional cost, to create a more dense colour.
Letterpress printed solids differ from offset printed solids. Due to the translucent inks we use the paper tends to show through on large solid areas creating a slightly textured or salty effect. If your design features a large solid and light or small text in the same colour we will need to print the solid in a separate press run to allow proper inking, however please note that extra press runs do increase the cost of printing. Large solid areas of ink may cause buckling of the stock and the impression may be less noticeable. Line weights in reverse areas should be greater than 0.4 point, see the recommendations on Line Weights.
Vector images (eg. created in Illustrator) work very well. For raster images (eg. created in Photoshop), please avoid the grayscale colour mode for your images. Use a 1200 dpi bitmap and 50% threshold. If you wish to use halftone screens please contact us as these require additional specifications. However if you are looking for a lighter colour it may be best to consider a second ink colour instead. Note: files MUST be TIFF not JPEG or other formats for highest quality reproduction. Ensure your image is embedded in your file if supply Illustrator EPS or AI files (a press-ready PDF is preferred).
We recommend using type no smaller than 5 point for roman weights and heavier however it’s best to keep in mind the readability of small and light weight fonts. In order to get the best impression around your type it’s best to add tracking (space the letters apart from each other).
Please be sure to outline ALL fonts prior to creating your PDF. Note that some fonts contain very thin strokes that may not hold on the plate, please check all line weights on fonts do not fall below 0.25 point (especially common on some serif and script fonts), adding a light stroke such as 0.05 or 0.1 point should help.
There are limitations with reverse type, so we recommend a minimum type size of 12 point, though this does vary depending on the typeface that you use. A light stroke to the type may be required to compensate for ink gain (a line weight greater than 0.4 point is required, see the recommendation in Line Weights for how to check your line weights). Reverse type may also indicate you have a large solid in your design, if so we may need to print the solid area in a separate print run. Additional press runs will increase the cost of printing. (Please read the notes on printing Large Solids.)
All line weights (including fonts) should be 0.25 point or thicker. In order to check this, draw a 0.25 point line and compare it to any elements you are unsure of, please be sure to delete the line prior to creating your final PDF! Do not use hairlines in your artwork.
We prefer to apply crop marks ourselves to suit our plate requirements, instead please mark out the trim area with a solid 100% Yellow line (this will not appear on your plate).
If your design elements extend beyond the trim area, please be sure to bleed/extend your design 3-5mm beyond this area if required.
Die cuts should be clearly indicated by a solid 100% Magenta line; scores should be indicated by a solid 100% Cyan line. However please discuss your die-forme design with us early to ensure accurate quoting and that it will be feasible on our presses.
Unless you plan to order your own envelopes, consideration must be given to the envelope sizes we have available in your preferred stock, contact us for a list of sizes available. We are also limited to a specific maximum size (including bleed and grip), if you have a large design please be sure to confirm we are able to fit your design on the press.
We prefer a vector based press-ready PDF file (with ALL fonts outlined) and a preview image in JPG or TIFF format. We can also accept digital files in AI or EPS format (with ALL fonts outlined).
We do not accept final artwork files in Photoshop, Publisher, Word and Corel artwork files.