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Art Specs, Templates, and Tricks

Disclaimer: By submitting artwork or photography you confirm that you have been given proper authority by the copyright owner or rights-holder to use all material.

OTTO reserves the right to require evidence in writing that such permissions have been secured from the copyright owner or rights-holder.

When sending artwork, please include the following:

There are two general classes of artwork, production-ready and source art. Production-ready artwork conforms in all ways to our standards and specifications and is ready to be imposed and printed with no changes, alterations, or adjustments, and is generally quoted at lower rates. Source art consists of elements, such as logos, photos, illustrations, etc., from which Otto is to draw the material to make production-ready artwork in-house.

  • Production-ready Artwork
  • One-up mechanicals, at-size, with bleeds and margins per-spec.
  • All job specifications, including final size, colors used, quantities, and other details such as substrate and lamination
  • PDF or color proof of the artwork, for the purposes of identifying the contents of your disk or file. This is not intended for color matching purposes.
  • Purchase order number (if applicable), billing and shipping information
  • Production-ready artwork should consist of:
  • Files built at 100% of or proportional to the finished size.
  • All fonts should be outlined or fonts should be provided.
  • Colors are fully specified in the artwork, in the same manner as required for output.
  • Full color and grayscale images are 200 to 300 dpi at final size.
  • Images are RGB, CMYK, Grayscale or Bitmap mode. (RGB is preferred, with a FraserRGB icc profile.)
  • Images should be saved as TIFF (with LZW compression if possible), JPEG (use very high quality settings), or EPS format. Any linked images MUST be included with the production files. It’s also a good idea to include images even if they are embedded.
  • Artwork should include bleed of ⅛" where applicable.
  • Copy should have a margin of ⅛" from the trim.
  • PMS numbers or swatches should be included if necessary.
  • Source Art:
  • As much data as we can reasonably use and then some.
  • Layered Photoshop files where available.
  • We need to know the font or have a copy of it.
  • Vector art where possible or practical
Software/File Format:

Adobe Illustrator is the file format that is preferred at Otto Printing & Entertainment Graphics. CorelDRAW files are also acceptable. We do not consider files from page-layout applications (InDesign, QuarkXPress, et al, including PDF documents made from those applications) to be appropriate for 1-up pass mechanicals. Their files cannot be made to work within our established work flow. If they are submitted, we will be forced to charge for the time it takes to make the designs up in more-appropriate software. We urge those making up art for passes to avoid them if at all possible.

Photoshop files are acceptable. However, please include layers where applicable, as we sometimes must make slight adjustments to meet mechanical requirements of production. A flattened JPEG is handy for reference and should be included as well.

The most common error is failing to provide proper bleeds and margins. Please pay close attention to these requirements.

  • We are capable of working with or using any pro-level desktop application, including:
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • CorelDRAW
  • Adobe PhotoShop (include flattened and uflattened file)
  • Adobe InDesign we no longer accept InDesign files as being digital-ready mechanicals for the purposes of our work flow
  • Quark XPress (the same)
  • Designs submitted in InDesign or XPress will have to be re-created and the art time charged at our normal hourly rate.
  • Editable Adobe Acrobat files (Format X-1A or Illustrator PDF).

If using files from application other than those listed above, please contact your Account Executive for assistance and advice.

Image Resolution:

Printing requires files of a certain resolution to create a quality image. Files in the range of 200 to 300 dpi at the finished size are acceptable. Files over 300 dpi at finished size are unnecessary, and can require longer printing times with no gain in quality.

When placing an image file into Illustrator (or other application), you should to consider the scaling factor of the image. A 300 dpi file which is then scaled to 25% of its original size becomes 1200 dpi with the consequent increase in file size and print time.

Color Space
  • Color information is certainly vital to accurate reproduction of artwork. As such, the information transmitted about color needs to be made to standards everybody understands.
  • RGB Although we print in CMYK, and everybody thinks they understand what that means, CMYK is not a colorspace specification. It is, rather a color separation standard. And, it is device dependent, which means that the same file will print differently on different machines. Not good. Fortunately, there are these magical machines called RIPs (Raster Image Processor) that have software built into them that can make the ideal color separations (to Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) for each output device (printing press). And the best way to ensure that we get good color is to send images to the RIP in the RGB (Red, Green, Blue) colorspace, with the widest possible gamut (range of colors possible). To ensure all of these, we use an RGB color profile developed back in the 90s by the author of Real World Photoshop, Bruce Fraser. It is called fraserRGB.icc and is included with Photoshop and also available free online.
  • CMYK Artwork created in or coverted to CMYK is made for a specific device. Accordingly, we translate CMYK files to RGB (fraserRGB profile) for transmission to our RIP. Color specs will be translated to the closest RGB equivalent using the Adobe engine as provided in Photoshop and Illustrator.
  • PANTONE We do not generally print using Pantone inks any more. (Such service IS available, but is more costly.) But even so, the Pantone Matching system provides a handy reference standard for specifying colors, so we keep swatch books around and use Pantone ink numbers for specifying colors when appropriate. But, you should be aware, we also translate Pantone colors to RGB and CMYK equivalents, so some color variation is to be expected.
  • Deeper Knowledge and More Detail:
  • Templates
  • Resolution
  • Vector vs. Bitmap

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