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Tulip Fold Record Album Sleeve

Posted by on Feb 21, 2014 in Blog, Design Tips |

Here’s a short video on a project we implemented with Lizy Gershenzon of Scribble Tone for her client Marmoset Music.

Fold Factory videos are a great place to get ideas for innovative print projects that will make your piece stand out.

This innovative record album sleeve uses a “tulip fold” that reveals a medley of images that gives the sense of community that went into the collaborative project.

Check out Marmoset Music’s awesome Side By Side project.

Contact us if you want innovative ideas that will make your project distinctive or just give us a call at 503.223.4984.

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Print Design Needs Bleed

Posted by on Nov 21, 2013 in Blog, Design Tips |

design_across_spreadFiles without proper bleed is a common problem we see when preparing art for print. Bleed is the part of the art that extends beyond the trim edge of the final printed piece. Since there ares slight variations in the printing and trimming processes, if the artwork ends right at the trimmed edge it’s too easy to be off by a hair on the cutter and leave a glowing sliver of white paper visible. To keep this from happening it is important that your art extends beyond the location of the trimmed edge.

Ask your printer how much bleed is appropriate for a specific job. For offset jobs an eighth of an inch is necessary; for wide-format jobs on big inkjets as much as half an inch of bleed might be required. While most graphic designers include bleed when they are working on a job, if the settings aren’t correct, that bleed can disappear before the job leaves your studio.

Fortunately, design tools have ways to help us get it right.

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Selecting Window Display Materials

Posted by on Aug 29, 2013 in Blog, Design Tips, Large Format |

nike window display


What goes in to the creation of a functional and aesthetic window display?

Many people assume that it’s a simple as sticking a poster on to a window, however there are several important factors beyond simply knowing the dimensions of the space and performing site surveys.

Geographical parameters determine outside and inside application, installation in particularly hot or cool climates, and life span of the material.

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Call To Action

Posted by on Aug 8, 2013 in Blog, Connect, Design Tips, Integrated Media Marketing |

We moved into a house last year with a broken outdoor faucet by the driveway. It’s not one of those ordinary hose bibs, it is a hot & cold mixer faucet like you might see on a utility sink. It seems that hot & cold faucets are unusual enough that they don’t have it at the corner hardware store or the big box stores. After a five minute web search I found the faucet manufacturer, and their online storefront. Cool, I’ll be able to get my faucet fixed! A few minutes later I have an account, got the parts I need in my shopping cart, enter my credit card info, and… WHAM!

There’s no button to place my order! There’s a message that tells me not to click twice on the button… but no button.

Which brings me to the topic of this blog post.

Always have a clear and obvious call to action that guides your audience to do what you want them to do next.
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Die Cuts Get Results

Posted by on Jul 16, 2013 in Blog, Design Tips, File Prep |

Eager to have a client, customer, or friend take a second look at your piece? Perhaps open and close it a few times out of interest? Even take time to assemble it?

Die cutting can turn your printed design into a sculpture, a model, or an irresistible urge to see what’s inside. It can add another dimension of functionality — picture a door hanger, tabbed dividers, a box, the presentation folder that cradles your proposal. Do you need to perforate a coupon or kiss-cut mailing labels?

Here’s a guide on how to digitally add a dieline to a job.



Cutting dies are often made by a computer-guided router or a laser that burns grooves in plywood. The grooves are fitted with razor-sharp blades for cutting, nicked blades for perforating, and dull blades for scoring. Therefore, cutting, perfing, and scoring are all done in one operation as the die is pressed against the printed sheet.

  • Dielines must be created as vector art because the computer-driven machines need mathematically described lines (vectors). When building dielines, use Adobe Illustrator, never Photoshop.
  • The dieline must show on a proof but won’t actually print, so it must be built in such a way that it doesn’t affect the art below it. To do this, make the dieline a spot color – so we can print it on a proof but ignore it when making plates – and set it to overprint – so it will not knock out the art behind it. Given the hundredths-of-an-inch tolerances of die-cutting, compared to the thousandths-of-an-inch accuracy of printing presses, we wouldn’t want a white line along the cut line.
  • A dieline should be a vector line on a layer in your design. It should never be negative space or the edge of a piece of art or the boundary of a mask.
  • If your die-cut piece folds, make a dummy, unfold it, and build your file flat – the way it prints. The art on the pocket of a pocket folder prints on the same side of the sheet as the outside cover. Visualizing this kind of thing is a magical gift bestowed upon some designers; the rest of us make a dummy.


  • Build the dieline in Adobe Illustrator first so you know what size it is, then place it in an InDesign document of exactly that size. The die cut must extend to all edges of the page because the trim marks allow the die cutter to locate the die on the press sheet. For a two-sided piece, imposition software uses the document boundaries to align the art back to back.
  • In Illustrator, make a new spot color called “Dielines”, give the dieline a 1 pt. stroke, and set the stroke to overprint in the Attributes pallette. Be sure the fill is “None” on that dieline shape, because you’re going to place it in the top layer in InDesign and you want everything on the lower layers to show (choose High Quality Display in InDesign’s View/Display Performance).
  • Check the Transparent Background box when you place the die file. I usually make the Dieline’s color 100% magenta so it’s nice and visible, but green or orange might show up better over some art. The on-screen color doesn’t matter because “Dielines” is never going to print anywhere except on a proof.
  • If the job requires scoring, you can indicate that by a dashed dieline, or just make a spot color called “Scores” and add a Score Layer.


  • For small die-cut pieces, add .125″ bleed beyond the trim edges; for packaging, especially when we’re printing something that laminates to corrugate, allow .25″ bleed; and for large-format printing, where the cutting is done by our computer-driven flatbed cutter, add .25″ bleed for a 1-side-only piece, and .5″ for a 2-sided piece.
  • If there is an inside cut, like the hole on a door hanger or a cutout for a plastic blister on retail packaging, outline that area with the dieline and run the art right across it. Bleed is necessary inside those internal cuts too.


  • Glue tabs are almost always .75″ wide and on a pocket folder they should extend from the body not the pocket. Ink should bleed no more than .125″ onto the face of the tab, leaving the rest ink-free for gluing.


These are 3 important points that will save you money and speed your die-cut job through our shop: 

  • Make your document size exactly the same size as the dieline.
  • Make the dieline a spot color vector line that overprints.
  • Put the dieline on its own layer.


Maybe you could start with an existing dieline and save yourself some time. We have hundreds of digital templates for pocket folders, DVD sleeves, envelopes, tabs —ask your salesperson!

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True White Ink

Posted by on Jun 20, 2013 in Blog, Design Tips, Featured, File Prep, Fun Printing Facts, Printing Tips, Why Print? |

Indigo Digital Printing

White ink is here. Digital printing is rapidly morphing into a quality creative marketing avenue. No longer quick and dirty–expect high-quality reproduction, G7 certified color accuracy and utilize creative substrate and ink options. Short-run, highly targeted and personalized print pulls some of the best marketing returns of all communication channels. High-quality design and reproduction is imperative to get the full value—maximum response—out of marketing campaigns. Quality, not quantity, characterizes results-driven direct marketing programs.

Now add white to the
design palette.

Create and design an entirely unique sensory experience. Pick a paper rich in color and use white ink for a message. Try a white halftone on black paper. Use clear synthetic papers with a white message or a white panel under a photo for a translucent but clear message. White on metallic substrates makes for a strong and bold presence. Alternatively, go for a soft look on a pastel paper or light metallic colored paper. Print labels, invitations, direct mail, corporate marketing, point-of-purchase, greeting cards, postcards, business cards and more.  (Flag is printed 4CP on Environment Desert Storm)

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Print-Ready PDF/X-1A AND PDF/X-4 Files

Posted by on Jun 11, 2013 in Blog, Design Tips, File Prep |

PDF/X is a special sub-pdf standard that meets ISO standards. All details and specific information required for print production is embedded into the graphic file.  For instance, PDF/X-1A requires all fonts to be embedded and images to be designated as cmyk or spot colors. PDF/X-4 takes it a step further accepting calibrated rgb color and cielab colors, but the file must still meet the basic requirements of the standards of a  PDF/X-1A.

Why use the PDF/X format? Pros & Cons


Pro. Simple single file is now available to upload or email to the printer easily.
Con. If changes need to be made to the file, the file will have to be updated by the originator as the flattened file most likely will not be able to be corrected by the prepress department.

Save Time.

Pro. The file is ready to rip and therefore runs through the process very quickly saving prepress time.
Con. Any errors made in the design and production of the file may not be caught until after the project is printed, negating time and cost savings.

Quality Assurance.

Pro. The designer is specifying all the details in the PDF/X file. So print production is defined and no other person is entering that information. Information cannot be lost as all is included in the PDF/X.
Con. If a designer enters misinformation or omits information, it may not be caught until the project is printed/produced.


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Pantone+ CMYK Conversion Issue in CS6

Posted by on Apr 2, 2013 in Blog, Design Tips, File Prep, Printing Tips |

Pantone® and Adobe have made a fundamental change in the way color is defined in CS6, resulting in different – and unpredictable – CMYK builds if you start with the default spot colors and change them to process colors. The CS6 default Pantone+ spot colors are now defined as Lab values instead of CMYK builds. Pantone’s thinking is that the device-independent Lab color space is more consistent across a range of media – web to print, iPad to billboard, computer screen to silkscreen.

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