Artwork Submission Guidelines
From Design to Sign
It can be difficult to navigate how best to export your graphics to ensure ideal compatibility with production, below is our road map to the information we need to make the exact sign you want.
Don’t have a design?
We have a team of graphic designers and sign experts happy to help.
When we view colours on a monitor, We are observing additive colours. Additive colours are produced by overlapping light waves. Colours begin as black darkness and then red, green and blue light is added on top of each other to produce the spectrum of colours we view everyday. When red, green and blue light is mixed together at equal intensity, they create pure white.
When colours are produced through printing or painting, a different approach is needed to create the same hues. In subtractive colour models, Pigments are used ( Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key ie Black). Our surface starts as white, and then tiny dots of these colours are overlapped to build to black. Because of differences in these methods, sometimes colours that are easy to achieve on the computer are impossible, or very difficult to mix. To work around this, We ask files sent to us to be created in a CMYK colour space, or have spot colours from a colour library attached to eliminate any guess work on our behalf.
No two printers are built the same. Factors such as the starting white point of the substrate, The health of the print heads, humidity, and the temperature of the room can impact the appearance of colours by the smallest margins. These factors are controlled by running colour calibrations, keeping temperature controlled rooms, and careful maintenance by a print operator, however margins of error can still occur.
To avoid any room for error, Spot colours can be used. Spot colours are colours recognized printers as colours
- Guaranteed to be in gamut (achievable through CMYK colour mixing)
- Part of a larger library that can be referenced to ensure consistency (Pantone is the most popular variety of this, but other reference systems can be used such as 3M, Benjamin Moore, Avery, etc.
- Gives a printer a consistent starting point when mixing colours to match to make the process quicker
All of these factors help ensure colours produced are in line with your branding every time they’re produced.
To ensure accurate colour production, we ask that defined colours are either included in your file data, or communicated to your sales representative. Accepted metrics are:
- Pantone colours
- CMYK values
- Vinyl colours (ex. 3M, Avery Dennison, Arlon)
- Paint colours (ex.Benjiman Moore, Behr, Sherman Williams)
- Other: Our sales representatives will ensure your colour needs are communicated.
Optimizing Artwork for Digital Print
Bitmap vs Vector
There are 2 types of artwork that can be found in all digital graphics…
BITMAP (aka raster) is created when a grid of pixels comes together to form an image. The quality of an image is determined by ppi ( pixels per inch)
- Allows for higher detail images like photos and illustrations
- Read uniformly without the need for colours and fonts to be embedded
- Used for photographs, and other high visual interest elements.
- Vectors can easily be converted to bitmaps, but converting bitmaps to vectors requires automatic tracing which can be inaccurate, or manual tracing which can be time consuming depending on the image.
- Careful attention needs to be paid to the resolution of the image to ensure the best quality possible at the size it is being produced.
- Image compression, loss of resolution and any changes made to file are permanent and can only be fixed by re-exporting a source file.
- Low image resolution can result in pixilation, artifacting, colour inconsistencies, and other quality issues.
- Spot colors not supported, if you require color matching your graphics MUST be vectors.
Ex. GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, XBM, BMP, and PCX
VECTORS are made out of a series of shapes, curves and lines. This information comes together as mathematical data which serves as instructions on how a computer should reconstruct this image.
- Vectors are easily scalable, and can be sized up infinitely without losing resolution
- Consists of layers so images can be edited without making changes permanent
Can achieve higher resolution at lower file sizes
- Best used for simple images, and anything needing to be produced in large format.
- Required for Vinyl cutting and CNC machines.
- More shapes increases file sizes, meaning the more detail an image contains the bigger your file size gets which leads to slow loading, and inability to send over messaging platforms and drop-boxes or physical hard drives are needed to store and send files.
DPI vs PPI
(pixels per inch) are the amount of pixels that come together to make a digital image. More pixels = crisper edges, more detail, smoother gradients.
(dots per inch) are the amount of halftone dots a printer translates these pixels into. The more pixels in an image, the more unique dots a printer can translate, and the more detail that can be seen in your image.
Images for print can be a mix of bitmap, vector, or both.
For vector images we recommend:
PDF files preferred, also accepted AI., EPS., and SVG.
Fonts and shapes should be converted to curves
If there are transparencies (including effects, drop shadows, opacity changes, outer glows, filters etc.) use the PDF export preset option “PDF/X-1a:2001” and then change “transparency flattener” settings in “advanced” menu to “high resolution”. This makes your effects bitmap, so this may not work best for you if your image is going to be sized up significantly after sending. Either supply your image at the size it’s going to be produced, or supply the original AI, CDR, or PDF file so we can export it at the proper size for the printer.
Program of origin is assumed to be either Illustrator or Corel Draw, Specifying if otherwise is helpful information.
Export colours as CMYK, Only convert spot colours to cmyk if you do not require colour matching
If you have images in your file, For highest possible resolution we suggest you attach a max quality image along with your file to ensure your image is not down sampled.
For bitmap images we recommend:
PDF, or PNG preferred, also accepted JPG
When exporting images for wide format print, 300 ppi can become unrealistic when images are being produced at 20’ tall. It’s important to consider viewing distance when setting up you images for print. The further away your viewer is from the print, the more the eye blends together pixels and the less noticeable poor print quality is. This trick of the human eye can be a useful tool for helping us determine what image size we can get away with based on how well people will view your images. Before sending your image, we recommend sizing your image up to 100%, printing out an 8.5×11” cropping, and backing away until you’re roughly the distance your viewer will be at. If you can still see pixels, you may want to choose to size up.
Suggested resolution ( at 100%):
72 ppi= acceptable from long distances, and grand scales.
300 ppi= standard resolution
600 ppi= small details, high resolution, and smaller scale images to be viewed at close distances.
Bleeds are the outer edge of a print which gets trimmed after printing to ensure an image has straight edges that are uniform over high production volumes, and is situated right to the edge on every interaction of a print.
With our production methods, we typically lose ⅛” on each side of an image, meaning that the image that gets printed is ¼” larger both ways than the final image.
Much of the work produced at Jones Neon Signs is custom made for each location or is dependent on the construction of the surrounding structures. This means the exact size of an image produced can change from the drawings by whole inches, which isn’t much proportionally when you’re building a 30’ sign, but is still significant for production purposes.
Due to this, Our design team needs to be able to resize images to work with the rest of construction, so we automatically set up your bleeds. Due to this, we usually don’t require designers to include bleeds in their file, and if the bleeds are included we recommend that they remain on a separate layer than the rest of the image so they can be edited or removed as needed.
Before exporting, you should convert your type to curves to ensure that your type won’t get interpreted differently when opened by a program different than the one your type is generated in.
Exceptions: if you have a large amount of signs that exporting individually is impractical, and we may need to edit the type. In this case ensure fonts are included in the files you send as TrueType Font files. If this isn’t possible, please include the name of the font, as well any text properties (Regular, Bold, Italic etc.) so we can locate the fonts for reproduction.
CNC and Vinyl Cutting
-Any shapes to be cut must be vector paths.
-Any fonts should be converted to curves in advance
– Overlapping paths should be merged
Supported file types: pdf, ai, eps, svg.
Our design team is happy to help answer any questions, convert existing artwork, and produce artwork.
If your artwork doesn’t meet requirements don’t worry, All files are reviewed before being sent to the shop. Minor indiscretions are fixed and major issues are brought to attention for approval.
Any required substantial changes made to submitted graphics may result in charges.