File Preparation

What type of files should I supply?
All files should be supplied to in PDF format. Whenever possible, outline all fonts to ensure no font problems.

What color mode should I use?

All files used in creating your PDF should be in CMYK mode. All printing is done in CMYK (4/C Process) and any images supplied in a color mode other than CMYK will experience a color shift:


These colors are RGB

These are the same colors in CMYK

These are the same colors in CMYK

You should always start and finish your designs in CMYK color mode.

What resolution should I supply my files in?
All PDFs should be supplied as 300 dpi. Creating your PDF, or using images in your page layout program when designing your paint can label, a dpi lower than 300 will result in poor quality finished paint can labels.

72 vs 300 dpi

This is the difference between 72 DPI and 300 DPI

How much bleed should I use on my supplied files?

Bleed is image area that extends past the cut-line and will be trimmed from the paint can label when it is cut to final size. When the image is required to extend all the way to the edge, bleed is needed to preserve the finished look and the quality of the final label. Standard bleed size for paint can labels is 0.125”. We recommend referencing our templates at all times. In addition, place crop marks on your supplied PDF to ensure accurate cutting of the finished label.

Should I send ‘sample’ files?
When sending artwork, ONLY SEND THE FILES YOU WANT PRINTED. Unless requested by one of our employees, DO NOT send files that you do not want printed such as preview files, lo-res proof files, etc.

What is ‘overprint’?


Knockout                             Overprint

Primarily used to intentionally overlap inks for a number of reasons, overprint can cause unexpected results.
We suggest that you check that all overprint settings are as you want them before submitting your files.

“Purple” Blues?
When using a blue in your design, always make sure to leave at least a 30% difference in your Cyan and Magenta values.


Blue as seen on screen and after printing

Blue is close to purple in the CMYK spectrum. Remember, use a low amount of magenta whenever using high amounts of cyan to avoid purple. EXAMPLE: C-100 M-70 Y-0 K-0

When exporting from any program such as Indesign or Illustrator, use these settings to make sure your .PDF files export correctly.

Adobe PDF Preset is set to: Press Quality
Compatibility is set to: Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3)
Compress Text and Line Art is set to: Off

Grayscale images that are converted to CMYK will have a color shift in the final print. That shift may be green or yellow. Always check the CMYK values of your grayscale in the final CMYK document. If there are other values other than K in your grayscale image, there is a chance that the color will vary. To eliminate all values other than K, use your Channel Mixer (adjustment layer) in Photoshop, then click “Monochrome” and adjust accordingly.

Gray Balance
Gray color can be achieved several different ways two of which are with a tint of black only or by using varying percentages of CMYK. Examine the image immediately below. The block on the left was created using black only. The block on the right was created using CMY (no K). They are very close is shade. However, using the tint of black only will allow for a far more consistent press run for your label. If black only is too ‘weak’ for your design add percentages of CMY to add ‘weight’ to the final color. Please ensure that the CMY are in balance and that the black is the dominant color.

Grayscale ComparisonWhat is Rich Black and should I use?

Rich black is an ink mixture of solid black, 100% K, with additional CMY ink values. This results in a darker tone than black ink alone. If you print black alone as 100% K, the resulting black may not be as dark as you might like. 100% K is fine for text that is 18pts or smaller.

100% Black After Printing

100% Black After Printing

100% Black On Screen

100% Black On Screen








We recommend using C 50 M 25 Y 25 K 100. This will give you a deep, dark, rich black.

What is “Banding” and how can I avoid it?
Banding is the appearance of lines in a gradient. Many things can cause banding. Banding can be caused by the program that it is exported from. Also, too many gradient steps, for example going from a very light color to a dark color, in a small area will cause banding.


Gradient Showing Banding

To prevent this, check your digital files before sending. If you use a gradient, make sure it has enough room for a smooth transition. Starting the gradient at 99% and ending it at 2% (rather than 100% and 0%, respectively) will also help to smooth the transitions. Remember, if you see the banding on screen it will show on the printed label.

Can I use Pantone colors on my labels? prints in 4 color process (CMYK) only. If you send in a job with Pantone colors, the CMYK conversion will change the Pantone color. Before sending your order, make sure all Pantone colors have been converted to CMYK.