1. Don’t Forget Bleeds
When designs are printed they are usually printed on large sheets and then cut. The problem is, cutting is never exact so the edges of your design can end up with errors if the color and images are too close or don’t (bleed) over the edge.
The simple solution for this is to extend your canvas size past the actual print size so images and colors extend past the actual size. This ensures no errors show when its trimmed down to actual size after printing. The size of the bleed around all edges of your design will depend on your final product and your printer’s specifications.
Just remember not to confuse your bleed canvas size with your actual print size or your design may be printed wrong! Always review your design in actual size so you know how everything will be cropped.
2. Setup a Grid
In web design, web designers create wireframes to mockup a site. In print design, graphic designers use grids. They are pretty much the same thing, except grids are more refined and are meant to be a strict guide for the designer to follow when laying out content such as text and images. A grid is usually made up of rulers/lines that define space for elements and between elements.
Grids are most commonly used in multi-page projects such as a book or magazine, but it’s also a good idea to use a grid for flyers, business cards and so on. The grid gives you a foundation and ensures all your elements line up and are consistent, which makes for a better quality design.
Grids can be very complex and flexible with many columns or they can be simple and static with just one column. For more information on grids go here: http://www.thegridsystem.org/
3. Keep Users in Mind
When you are creating any sort of print design you need to remember it’s going to be a physical product that is held and viewed at a certain distance by a wide variety of people. Try to visualize and test how your design will actually function when it’s printed.
Ask your self-questions such as…How will people hold this? Can all the text be easily read at normal hand to eye distance? How does the design look under different light sources? Where will this design be placed?
These are just a few questions to ask yourself. You never know what situation your design may end up in, so its important you consider all possibilities and always keep the end user in mind.
4. Less can be More
In print design, you are usually dealing with a very small space and it can be hard to get your message and information across in such a small area, but it’s essential you don’t crowd the design. If you overload the viewer with too much information and the design looks crowded it can be an instant turn off.
Review all your copy and images and try and cut out the fat. You can always send the viewers to a website for more information, instead of trying to pack in tons of text and images into a small area.
When you are done with your design, step back from the computer for a while to clear your head. Then come back and review your design to make sure everything is correct. Check alignment, colors, spelling and everything else in your design. Have other people look at it as well and always make sure your boss or client signs off on the design before its sent to the printer.
Nothing is worse than ordering 10,000 flyers and then finding out the date is wrong for the event! So take a few extra steps to make sure your design is perfect before you upload it to be printed. It can be easy to miss stuff if you have been looking at a design on your computer screen for 8 hours straight. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh pair of eyes to save you and your client a world of trouble!