How To Prepare Your Art Files For A Cut

It is very important to the Pre-Press part of the production, to set your art files for shapes that need to be cut with a CUT LINE and a BLEED. This will ensure that the cut is precise, and none of your artwork is cutoff.

Below are step-by-step instructions on how to create your Cut Line and then how to add a Bleed.

Circle Cut

Below are instructions on how to setup Cut Lines for artwork that is in the shape of a CIRCLE. This process will be identical to all other shapes as well.

(Adobe Illustrator)

Step 1: Adding the Cut Line

1. With the Direct Selection Tool, select the outer line of your artwork. For a circle, it would be your background image. Select, copy, and paste to back (Command C, Command B is the shortcut for this step). Set the STROKE to 2 pt thickness, with NO fill color.

2. Change the color of the stroke to any bright color that is visible and NOT in the color of your artwork.

3. Drag your STROKE COLOR into your "SWATCH LIBRARY" and then click on “NEW SWATCH.” (See ‘image A & B’)

4. Change the ‘Swatch Name’ to CUT (See ‘image C’)

5. Change the ‘Color Type’ to SPOT COLOR (See ‘image C’)

6. Make sure the ‘Color Mode’ is set to CMYK and Press OK (See ‘image C’)

Circle cut set up step one cut line

Circle cut set finished diagram

(Adobe Illustrator)

Step 2: Adding the Bleed

1. Your artwork now has the CUTLINE; you will find this version of the artwork to setup the BLEED.

2. Select your background just as you did for the cut line. You will copy and paste. The example shown is a beach ball. The stroke color is black. So, our BLEED will need to be black as well.

3. Add a stroke to the duplicated background layer. Example stroke is shown in green to show the thickness of the stroke. We set the stroke to 10 pts.

4. Select that image, and select Object > Expand. Make sure your settings are set on ‘Stroke’ and click OK.

5. After the stroke has been expanded, select Pathfinder > Unite. Once this unites the expanded parts, make sure the final piece color is your background color. The example is shown in black.

6. Select the duplicated background and align with the original art with the CUTLINE from Step 1. Select Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Circle cut set up step two bleed

Circle cut diagram finished with bleed

Oval-Cut

Below are instructions on how to setup Cut Lines for artwork that is in the shape of an Oval. This process will be identical to all other shapes as well.

(Adobe Illustrator)

Step 1: Adding the Cut Line

1. With the Direct Selection Tool, select the outer line of your artwork. For an oval, it would be your background image. Select, copy, and paste to back (Command C, Command B is the shortcut for this step). Set the STROKE to 2 pt thickness, with NO fill color.

2. Change the color of the stroke to any bright color that is visible and NOT in the color of your artwork.

3. Drag your STROKE COLOR into your "SWATCH LIBRARY" and then click on “NEW SWATCH.” (See ‘image A & B’)

4. Change the ‘Swatch Name’ to CUT (See ‘image C’)

5. Change the ‘Color Type’ to SPOT COLOR (See ‘image C’)

6. Make sure the ‘Color Mode’ is set to CMYK and Press OK (See ‘image C’)

Oval cut set up step one cut line

Oval cut set finished diagram

(Adobe Illustrator)

Step 2: Adding the Bleed

1. Your artwork now has the CUTLINE; you will find this version of the artwork to setup the BLEED.

2. Select your background just as you did for the cut line. You will copy and paste. The example shown is a yellow oval. There is no stroke color. So, our BLEED will need to be yellow as well.

3. Add a stroke to the duplicated background layer. Example stroke is shown in green to show the thickness of the stroke. We set the stroke to 10 pts.

4. Select that image, and select Object > Expand. Make sure your settings are set on ‘Stroke’ and click OK.

5. After the stroke has been expanded, select Pathfinder > Unite. Once this unites the expanded parts, make sure the final piece color is your background color. The example is shown in yellow.

6. Select the duplicated background and align with the original art with the CUTLINE from Step 1. Select Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Oval cut set up step two bleed

Oval cut diagram finished with bleed

Special Cut

Below are instructions on how to setup Cut Lines for artwork that is in the shape of a special cut. This process will be identical to all other shapes as well.

(Adobe Illustrator)

Step 1: Adding the Cut Line

1. With the Direct Selection Tool, select the outer line of your artwork. For an oval, it would be your background image. Select, copy, and paste to back (Command C, Command B is the shortcut for this step). Set the STROKE to 2 pt thickness, with NO fill color.

2. Change the color of the stroke to any bright color that is visible and NOT in the color of your artwork.

3. Drag your STROKE COLOR into your "SWATCH LIBRARY" and then click on “NEW SWATCH.” (See ‘image A & B’)

4. Change the ‘Swatch Name’ to CUT (See ‘image C’)

5. Change the ‘Color Type’ to SPOT COLOR (See ‘image C’)

6. Make sure the ‘Color Mode’ is set to CMYK and Press OK (See ‘image C’)

Special cut set up step one cut line

Special cut set finished diagram

(Adobe Illustrator)

Step 2: Adding the Bleed

1. Your artwork now has the CUTLINE; you will find this version of the artwork to setup the BLEED.

2. Select your background just as you did for the cut line. You will copy and paste. The example shown is a blue diamond with a black stroke. So, our BLEED will need to be black to match the stroke.

3. Add a stroke to the duplicated background layer. Example stroke is shown in green to show the thickness of the stroke. We set the stroke to 10 pts.

4. Select that image, and select Object > Expand. Make sure your settings are set on ‘Stroke’ and click OK.

5. After the stroke has been expanded, select Pathfinder > Unite. Once this unites the expanded parts, make sure the final piece color is your background color. The example is shown in black.

6. Select the duplicated background and align with the original art with the CUTLINE from Step 1. Select Object > Arrange > Send to Back.

Special cut set up step two bleed

Special cut diagram finished with bleed