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Art Guidelines

Vector Artwork: Artwork that stores mathematical information about shapes and lines is called vectors. They can be scaled easily without producing the "stair-step" edges you will see in pixel-based (raster) images. They adapt to the resolution of any output device and are considered to be resolution independent. They are produced by programs like Adobe Illustrator®, Macromedia FreeHand® and CorelDRAW´┐Ż.

Raster Artwork: Artwork and images that are defined by a checkerboard pattern, similar to viewing mosaic tiles. Raster images are limited by the number of pixels and cannot be enlarged without producing noticeably jagged, stair-stepped edges. They are produced by digital cameras, scanners, and can also be created by programs like Adobe PhotoShop and CorelPHOTO-PAINT (among others).

Spot Color: Solid, generally flat fields of color. Used for silk screening where a printer can lay down several solid areas of color to produce multi-colored artwork; also used to identify additional colors in a four-color process file or print job.

Color Space: Refers to the use of color in an imprint or graphic file. Defined for our purposes as spot color, no color, RGB or CMYK.

RGB: Colors defined as a combination of three colors red, green and blue to produce millions of other colors.

CMYK: Colors defined using a combination of four colors cyan, magenta, yellow and black to produce millions of other colors; often referred to as four-color process.

Resolution: The measurement of quality (pixel per inch in file or dots per inch in output). Low-resolution images may be as low as 72 dpi (or less). High-resolution images may be as high as 600 dpi (or more).

Sm@rt Artwork Guidelines

The sm@rt Artwork Guidelines define the quality criteria that determine the readiness of each of four common artwork formats. The guidelines cover both vector and raster art files, as well as including instructions to avoid common errors related to fonts and linked images.

Vector Artwork Files

  • Must be saved in the Postscript Format and contain no Postscript errors, stray points or colors assigned inconsistently to the supplier's published requirements.
  • All type that has been set must be converted to outlines (curves). If future changes to the text will be necessary, the original font file must be supplied with the art file for use on the supplier's specified computer platform (Mac or PC).
  • All design elements in the file must meet the supplier's published minimums for line thickness. Failure to do so may compromise the final imprint quality.
  • If the vector file contains any linked (placed) raster images, these images must meet the supplier's minimum requirement for resolution when rendered at 100% actual imprint size and must be submitted with the original vector file.

Raster Artwork Files

  • All Raster elements and art files must be sized to 100% or larger than the actual imprint size.
  • All Raster images must meet or exceed the supplier's published minimum resolution (pixels-per-inch) when rendered at the actual imprint size.
  • All raster elements must be submitted in the proper color space (RGB or CMYK) as published by the supplier.

Page Layout Document

  • Page layout documents must be prepared to render the artwork and all of its elements at 100% of actual imprint size.
  • In addition to submitting the page layout documents, all vector and/or raster files that are referenced by the page layout document must also be included.
  • Include any fonts that were used in the production of the page layout document or use on the supplier's specified computer platform (Mac or PC).

Acrobat (PDF) Files

  • PDF files created from vector files must retain the editing capabilities of the program that was used to create them (e.g. Illustrator or Freehand).
  • PDF files that contain raster elements must meet the minimum requirements for raster art files as outlined by the supplier.
  • PDF files that contain vector elements must meet the minimum requirements for vector art files as outlined by the supplier.
  • PDF files created from page layout documents should be submitted together with the source documents, fonts and all supporting files.


  • No matter what the format or transfer method, artwork should NEVER be submitted without either a hard copy proof or the electronic equivalent. Properly prepared PDF files are often suitable as proofs.


  • Any fonts used in the production of art files should be converted to curves (outlines) prior to submission. If future typesetting will be required, the original font files must be included with the artwork file to be used on the supplier's specific computer platform (Mac or PC).

Other Than Above

  • Only professional software packages may be used to produce artwork. Although programs like Microsoft Word and Publisher are useful tools, they are not capable of producing art files of a quality necessary for imprinting purposes.