Creating and exporting a print document in Illustrator CS5


This document is written for Illustrator CS5 onwards. Read the Illustrator CS3 tutorial here, where you can find out about “bleed” and the printing “safe zone”.

Any printed work should be in CMYK mode, 300dpi resolution.

Illustrator CS5 makes it much easier to set up a document, and export files for print. It all starts when you create the new document.

  1. When you create a new document, you are asked to specify the size of the artboard. Unlike in CS3, where you had to incorporate bleed into the size of your artboard, enter the finished size of your document.
  2. CS5 allows you to add bleed separately. At the bottom of the dialog box, you can choose the bleed size on all four sides, or lock the bleed to a constant value around the artboard. 3mm is sufficient for most printed work.
  3. Once you create the document, you will be presented with a black artboard outline, surrounded by red guides. These show the bleed limit, and mark the extent of the artwork you should export.

Exporting finished artwork

  1. To export finished artwork (e.g. high resolution jpg), go to File>Export… and select JPG from the drop down box.
  2. Below the drop down box are some options. To export the full artwork, including bleed, you must select Use Artboard (if not, all artwork in the whole document will be exported). The other options are for when using multiple artboards, and specific artboards, or ranges of artboards may be exported into one document.
  3. With Use Artboard selected, export your JPG. This file includes all bleed and is ready for print!

Exporting proofs

To export a JPG without bleed (to send proofs, for example) you can go through the annoying process of going into File>Document Settings and reducing the bleed to zero, before repeating the steps above, or you can use File>Save for Web. This has an option in the Image Size tab to Crop to Artboard. You can set the quality of the image to your required level and export the file this way.

Other Illustrator tips.

Draw or resize shapes and selections from the centre in Illustrator

Apply a gradient fill across multiple objects in Illustrator

Maintain or scale stroke width while resizing in Illustrator

Apply gradient fill to editable text in Illustrator

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