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Setting bleed and margins in your Artwork

Bleed and margins are one of the most important settings to ensure that your final artwork files are printed in the highest quality possible. Indeed, a couple of important issues can arise during the cutting process if you do not properly set up bleed and safety margins.

1. Without sufficient bleed, your final products may end up having a white edge around the artwork

2. If you place text and other important content outside of the safe zone, you risk losing parts on that content during cutting.

Photoshop is not an ideal software for setting up artwork files for printing, and one of the reasons for this is the setup of bleeds and margins. Since there is no standard option to automatically create the bleeds, such as in Illustrator, you must always add the size of the bleeds to the size of your canvas.

FFor example, if you are preparing the design of a business card in the final format 9 x 5 cm, your canvas in Photoshop should be set to 9.6 x 5.6 cm, to account for the bleed of 3 mm that needs to be added to each side.

You can always check the dimension of your canvas by clicking Image > Canvas Size, as shown below.

Check the dimension of your canvas
Check the dimension of your canvas 2

Once your canvas size is correct, you still need to mark off the bleed area and add safety margins. To do this, use the “Rectangle Tool” to create a rectangle that is the dimension of your final product. In the case of our business card, that is 9 x 5 cm.

Use the Rectangle Tool to create a rectangle

To create the rectangle, click anywhere in your canvas and set the dimensions to 9cm width and 5cm height (you can simply type it in).

Creating the rectangle, 9 x 5 cm.

Once created, the rectangle needs to be centre-aligned to your canvas. To do so, click the “Align” icon and select “Align to Canvas” in the dropdown menu. Then select “Horizontal Centers” and “Vertical Centers”. Also, don’t forget to set the rectangle to no colour.

Centrally aligning the rectangle.

 When aligned, the rectangle can be transformed into guides that mark the end of your printed product, by right-clicking the shape, and selecting the option “New Guides from Shape”.

Creating printing guides from shapes.

YYou can repeat the above steps to create the safety margins for your file, by creating a rectangle with the final dimension of your printed product MINUS 3 mm on each side. In our example, the rectangle should be 8.4 x 4.4 cm (i.e. 9 - 0.6 cm width and 5 - 0.6 cm height). Important content should always be kept INSIDE this safe zone.

In the end, your canvas with bleed and margin should look like this:

The final settings for bleed and margin of your canvas.

When you add a background (image, shape, or simply colour), make sure to extend it to the end of the bleed area, (i.e. the end of your canvas).