Photoshop Video Tutorial: Print Ready Documents

In this 7-part video tutorial, we’ll explain how to use Adobe Photoshop to prepare your print ready document for a commercial printer from start to finish. Be sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel and leave a comment if you have any questions about preparing your Photoshop artwork for printing materials.

Video Transcript


Welcome to the Printwand video lesson “Preparing your Document for Print in Photoshop.” My name is Bryan Lee and I’ll be your guide as we discuss: interacting with fonts and Photoshop, the correct use of color, achieving multi-color looks in a one color document, setting a document up in CMYK mode, properly sizing our artwork for use in our documents, using document templates and the difference between vector and raster artwork.

So sit back and enjoy these lessons, and hopefully you’ll learn a few things that can help you be more effective at preparing your files for print with Photoshop.

Interacting with fonts and Photoshop

Welcome to our first lesson, “Interacting with fonts and Photoshop,” brought to you by Printwand. Our goal here is to prepare this Photoshop file so that our commercial printer, or anyone that we’re handing our file off to can work with the document and not have to worry about any potential font conflicts.

So in the first part of our lesson I’ll show you how to go and get the fonts from where they’re stored on our computers and copy them so that we can hand them off. And in the second part, we’ll talk about how to convert the fonts in our Photoshop docs themselves so that you don’t need to include anything else when you’re giving them to the printer.

So here I’ll show you how to go and get your fonts if your using a Windows computer. First head down to “Start,” then go to “My Computer.” Here, we’re going to head to “Local Disk” which is your (C:) drive, then we’re going to go to “Windows” and then “Fonts.” And so here we can see all of the fonts that we have loaded on our computer. Lets go ahead and create a new folder on our desktop so that we have a place we can copy our fonts to. And we do this by right-clicking on our desktop, heading down to “New” and then heading over to “Folder.” And we’re just going to name this “Fonts to Copy.” We’ll open up our new folder that we have over here on our desktop, and we’ll go ahead and drag to select, and then windows will automatically paste this for you. And that’s how you take care of copying your fonts over in windows.

If you’re using a Mac the process is a little different. Head to the “Macintosh HD,” and then the “Library” folder, and then the “Fonts” folder. And again, here we have all of the system fonts loaded on our computer. So we’re going to go ahead and create a new folder on our desktop so that we have a place we can copy our fonts to. And you do this just by right clicking on the desktop, selecting “New Folder”, and then we can just rename it whatever we want; in this case we’ll just call it “Fonts.” Ok, now that we’ve done that, we’ll go ahead and drag to select in the folder and then right click to “Copy.” We’ll go back over to our desktop and open up the new folder that we have over here, and right click again and go down to “Paste.”

So that’s how you can gather up the Fonts that you might be using in your Photoshop document. To me, this is the preferred way to give a document to someone. That way, if they don’t have the font that you’re using they can load it onto their computer and they should be all set with your document. Another option would be to convert the text in your document to an image.

So here we’re now in Photoshop and we can see that we have a block of text that has been typed into the document. And what we’re going to do here is convert this text, which is vector based, into a rasterized image. We’ll get more into the differences between raster and vector based artwork later on in our lesson, but for right now this is the reasoning behind what we’re doing.

So what you’ll want to do is head up to your “Menu Bar,” go to “Layer,” head down to “Rasterize,” and then over to “Type.” And there you have it. Your type has been converted into an image. Now you don’t need to include your fonts with your Photoshop doc. The type has been placed here as a piece of art.

But, here’s a word of caution though. The problem with this method is that there is no going back from it. Once you have rasterized your type it’s no longer editable. So if you’re going to go down this route it’s best to wait until the very end of your creative process. Or, save a copy of your file with the type non-rasterized and then another with it rasterized so that if you need to make changes you still won’t have a problem doing so. So this concludes our lesson about “Interacting with fonts and Photoshop,” up next we’re going to talk about “The correct use of color.”

The correct use of color

Welcome to the second section of our lesson; this one is called “The correct use of color” and it’s again brought to you by Printwand. Previously we learned about how to interact with fonts in Photoshop. But now we’re trying to ensure the correct use of color in our files, whether that be using Pantone, also known as PMS colors, or a four color process made up of the inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. Either way, your goal should be to use one or the other, but you don’t want to use both.

So here we have our Photoshop file. We have two seemingly identical pieces of artwork. When we lay one on top of the other we can see that there doesn’t seem to be any difference between the two. Ok, so let’s go up to our “Layers Pallet,” and we want to double click on the “Layer Style” of one of our layers. And then we’re going to head down to the “Color Overlay,” and we’ll just click on this colored square right here.

So we see that this is a PMS or Pantone color. This means that it’s one color when it’s printed. It only uses one ink. Ok, let’s close this and then look at the next piece of art. We’ll head back over to our “Layers Pallet” and we want to double click again on the “Layer Style” of the next layer. And we’ll head down to the “Color Overlay,” and again click on this square.

Now notice here that this one is made up of a four color process. It uses four inks, like we mentioned before cyan, magenta, yellow and black. So this is just one more thing to keep in mind when we’re setting up our documents. It’s not that one is right and one is wrong, it’s just one more thing to be aware of with our artwork. And as you can see, it can be easy for the colors to be mistaken for each other.

Whatever process that we have indicated to our printers, whether that be PMS or four color, that’s how our document should be set up, with one or the other. Another habit to get into would be always trying to send original files, in this case Photoshop, to our printers. It just makes things easier for them if they have to make changes at some point in the process.

So this finishes up our lesson on “The correct use of color” in our Photoshop files. Our next section will discuss how to “Achieve a multi-color look in a one color document.”

Achieving multi-color looks in a one color document

Welcome to part three of our lesson entitled “Achieving multi-color looks in a one color document” in Photoshop, and this is brought to you by Printwand. Now our last section dealt with making sure that our artwork was either four color or PMS color and what we’re looking at here is a 1 color job and how we can show some variation in our color but still only use one PMS or Pantone ink.

So we have two identical sets of graphics and each is made up of two different colored images. Let’s first look at the second set in Photoshop. Let’s look at the first image in the set. We’ll go to our “Layers Pallet” and we want to double click on “Layer Style” and then head down to the “Color Overlay.” Then we’ll click again on this colored square that comes up. And we can see that it’s a PMS or Pantone color and this means that it’s one color when it’s printed. It only uses one ink. So let’s go ahead and close this and now we’ll look at the second image in our set.

Again we’ll go to our “Layers Pallet,” double click on the “Layer Style.” head down to the “Color Overlay,” and click the colored square that comes up. But, here we notice here that it’s made up of a completely different PMS color. This is not what we want. So how can we achieve a two color effect when we’ve specified to our printer that we only want to use one color?

Well, let’s look here at our two images at the top. Again we’ll go to our “Layers Pallet,” double click on the “Layer Style,” and then head down to the “Color Overlay.” Click on the colored square that comes up, and notice here that it’s PMS or Pantone color.

Let’s go check our other image. We’ll head over here to our “Layers Pallet,” double click again on “Layer Style,” head over to the “Color Overlay,” click on the colored square. But notice that the color that comes up is the same as the one before. How did we achieve this effect?

Let’s select this second layer and take a look at the “Layers Pallet” itself. Well here we can see in the upper right hand corner of the Pallet, we have a setting called “Opacity.” In this case it’s been set to 50%. So we’re only using a percentage of the color to get our effect. If we move it back up to 100, we can see that the color is indeed identical to the other image. The only caution here is that you need to make sure that you’re operating on a white background behind your opaque image so that there is no bleed through to the background layer. You can do this by duplicating the image layer and filling it with white.

So here we can see how by playing around with the percentages of the PMS colors that we’re using we can achieve a multi-color look, but we’re still maintaining it being setup as a 1 color document. Ok, well, thanks for following along with us through this section, our next section is going to discuss how to “Set up a document in CMYK mode” in Photoshop.

Setting a document up in CMYK mode

Welcome to our fourth lesson, and this one is all about “Setting a document up in CMYK mode” in Photoshop, and as always we’re brought to you by Printwand. Our last section discussed achieving a multi-color look in a one color document, and here what we’ll be getting into is ensuring that our document is setup to be in CMYK mode. This is especially useful when our intent is a job set up for four color process, it’s not so necessary when we’re using PMS or Pantone colors, but its still a good practice.

So let’s start by going up to into “Image”, and then to “Mode”, and here we can see we already have CMYK selected already. Now CMYK refers to cyan, magenta, yellow and black, and these are the four colors that make up the printing process. RGB, or red, green, and blue, this is mostly used for web artwork or video, but not necessarily for print.

So let’s select RGB to see the difference. Now we don’t want to flatten our image because we want to make sure that it’s still editable. But, notice right away the shift in color here that we get due to the change in mode. This is because the document is set up using only red, green and blue, the RGB in order to render its colors instead of the CMYK that we were using before.

So let’s go ahead and change our image back to CMYK mode. We’ll go up to “Image,” down to “Mode,” and then we’re going to re-select CMYK. Again we don’t want to flatten. But, here it asks us if we’re sure we want to convert to CMYK, and of course we do.

So this is just one more area to be aware of as we’re setting up our documents. This is going to help our commercial printers save time. Remember too that another habit to get into would be to always be trying to send original files (in this case, again, Photoshop) and this is going to make things easier if any changes need to be made at any point in the process for our printer or whoever is handling our document.

So this concludes our lesson on “Setting up a document in CMYK mode.” Our next lesson’s going to cover “Properly sizing our artwork for use in our documents” and you’re going to want to stay tuned for that.

Properly sizing our artwork for use in our documents

Welcome to the fifth section of our lesson, and this one’s called “Properly sizing our artwork for use in our documents,” and it’s brought to you by Printwand. Our previous section covered setting up a document in CMYK mode. Now we’re going to be discussing how to properly size our artwork for use in our documents. So here we have this image open in Photoshop and let’s just take a look at how it’s sized. If we go up here to “image” and then “Image size,” it shows us that our image at 100% is 8 inches by 5 inches at 300 pixels per inch or 300 DPI. Now 300 DPI is the minimum that images for print need to be, in order to render clearly.

But say we want to fill an area larger than eight inches by five inches, like sixteen by ten or so. Well, how does this affect our DPI? By entering ten into the height we see that it cuts our DPI in half to 150. Now we know this is too low to use for print. So at this point, this tells us that we either need to find a larger image, or re-think the way that we want to use our image, so that we can ensure that they print properly correctly and at a high enough resolution. Well, next up we’re going to look at how to properly use our document templates.

Using document templates

Welcome to our sixth lesson “Using documents templates” brought to you by Printwand. Our previous section covered “Properly sizing our artwork for use in our documents” and this lesson is going to discuss our document templates that we use to put together our files.

So here we have a sample template of a folder that we’re working on in Photoshop. Let’s go ahead and go up to our “Menu Bar,” we’ll go over to “Image” and then “Canvas size.” And we can see here that our document size is a little larger than 20.5″ x 16.5″. We’ll go ahead and click “OK.”

Now let’s first notice these tabs on the left and right sides of our template. These are what our pockets attach to. And so they’re both going to fold in, and then the pocket at the bottom of the document folds up, and it’s glued to those tabs – creating a pocket. But right now we don’t really need to worry about them at this point, but just so that we can note and see what they’re doing there.

Let’s move over here and we’ll take a look at our “Layers” pallet. So we can see that we have our document template as well as our document artwork both on separate layers. And we want to separate those layers for the sake of clarity in our document. Let’s go ahead and we’ll make our art layers visible so that we can see how our layout works in relation to our template. We do this by clicking into this grey box to the left of the layer name.

So notice here how a portion of our artwork is extending past our template lines. This is our bleed area. This is an area that extends out at least .125″ past our document size. So let’s go up and go to our “Menu Bar,” we’re going to go down to “View,” then we’re going to go to “Show” and we’ll slide down to “Guides.” And now we can see this outermost guideline here, this represents our document bleed area. We can see that our artwork correctly extends into this area. So now with our guides on we can also see these lines, kind of on the inside of our template. These represent our artwork live area. They’re located .25″ inside of our document area and this is the area that we want our art and copy to stay in so that it doesn’t get cut off at the margins.

Ok, so let’s go back over to our “Layers” pallet, and we’re going to toggle on our “Live area” layer. Now we don’t have to have a “Live area” layer on our final document but I’m kind of showing this to you for the purpose of clarity so that you can see how things lay out and why they lay out the way they do. We can see that everything is lined up and laid out correctly on our document, everything falls within our document template and lines up with our guides. But, if we notice here these groups of markings on the bottom of our template on the pocket.

Now, these are indicators for different groupings of business card slits. There’s a number of different orientations that can used; what you want to keep in mind is after you’ve selected the area that you want to use for your business cards, it’s important not to place text in that specific area. Otherwise, it’s going to get covered up by the card and you’re not going to see anything that’s behind it.

So there we have some tips to keep in mind when using documents templates and we want to make sure that your file is set up correctly when we’re preparing them to go to print. Our final lesson will be talking about the “Differences between vector and raster artwork.” So if you’ve ever had a printer or anyone handling your document ask you for those different types of files, this is gong to be a really helpful lesson for you.

The difference between vector and raster artwork

Welcome to our seventh and final portion of our lesson, this section is entitled “The difference between vector and raster artwork” and it’s brought to you by Printwand. So we’ve gotten a lot of good information in the previous six portions of our video. We’re going to end our lesson here discussing the differences between a vector and rasterized based image. If you’ve ever been asked for a document that needs to specifically be one or the other, it’s important to note the differences. For this portion of the video we’re going to be using Photoshop, but we’re also going to need to use Illustrator as well.

So here we are in Illustrator and we have a piece of artwork that we’re looking at. First, let’s select our image by going up to our “Menu Bar,” head to “Select” and then “All.” Now we want to zoom in real tight on our artwork, as high a zoom as we can. We do this by heading over to our “Tool Bar” on the left here and the “Zoom Tool” is located at the very bottom of the menu. Simply click in the middle of the selection of our artwork here and we’re going to zoom in very tight on our image.

So we can see how smooth the image is. We get very crisp lines. Let’s zoom back out now. And we do this by heading up to our “Menu Bar,” we’ll go down to “View” and then “Actual Size.” So when we zoom out we can see that the image is actually made up of a series of points and this is what creates the piece of artwork. Because of that we can grab this image and resize it as much as we want; it’s always going to maintain its resolution and clarity. If we zoom back in we notice that it’s still very sharp and crystal clear. So now let’s go ahead and flip over to Photoshop where we can look at a raster image.

Here we have a similar image to the one that we were looking at in Illustrator. Let’s get our zoom tool, the same way that we would have over in Illustrator and we’re going to zoom in pretty tight on the image to see what we get here. So notice how as soon as we get over 100% or so the image starts to get fuzzy. Now this is because rasterized art is actually made up of individual pixels. Let’s go back over to our “Menu Bar;” we’ll go to “View” and then “Actual Pixels” so we can get our zoom level back to normal.

So here what we’ve done is imported a layer from Illustrator so that we can see the difference between these two files. Let’s click in the left hand area of the box so we can hide our original layer and then click on our imported layer there to view that. Now this is actually a piece of vector art because it was created in Illustrator. Notice this symbol here on the layer; that’s what indicates that it’s vector. So let’s go back to our zoom tool and we’ll get in real tight on our image. We can see that it still appears fuzzy – the way our raster image did. And that’s only because we’re viewing it in Photoshop.

Let’s go back up to our “Menu Bar,” go over to “View” and then “Actual Pixels.” And we’re zooming back out here so that we can see our image again. So now we’re going to go ahead and enlarge this image. We want to go maybe more than double its normal size. This is done by pressing “Control + T” on the PC or “Command + T” on the Mac, and you simply drag the handles until you get to the size that you want and then you hit “Enter.” So here we can see that at 100% our lines are still crisp and clear. Let’s go over to our original raster image and we’re going to do the same – we’ll increase the size on it as well. We’ll hide the vector layer. We’ll show the raster layer, and again we’ll press “Control + T” on the PC or “Command + T” on the Mac, grab the handles and enlarge it. So right away we can see a difference – notice how fuzzy this image appears at 100%, and if we toggle back and forth between the two images we get a better feel for how different the two formats really are.

So see, these are some of the main differences between the two types of art; that way you’re going to know what to look for if someone asks for a piece of vector art or raster art.


Well, I want to thank you again for watching our video lesson on “Preparing Your Document For Print In Photoshop”. Hopefully we’ve been able to provide you with some good knowledge for when you’re getting ready to submit files to your printers or anyone else who may be working or handling your documents when working with Photoshop. Make sure to check back often to Printwand for more video lessons as well as other articles to help you with your marketing and promotional needs.

Posted in Design Tutorials, Photoshop Tips & Tutorials

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Printwand Staff
Author: Printwand Staff

Our marketing, design and printing experts are passionate about sharing their knowledge. We're eager to help make your vision a reality in print. Be sure to explore the rest of the Printwand blog for more reliable, easy-to-understand information.

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