Welcome back to Digital art 101, an ongoing series seeking to answer the most common questions. Last time, we discussed the difference between Vector and Raster and how to identify them. Today, we will go over how to check the art and determine if it is suitable for production. We will be using the Adobe suite programs: Illustrator and Photoshop
To check if your vector artwork is suitable for production, it is always important to open it up in your vector program and view it under outline mode. You can navigate to the VIEW drop-down menu and choose OUTLINES, or select Command+Y (Mac) or Control+Y (PC) to activate it.
However, vector art can sometimes have two common issues which need to be remedied before going to production. These issues are missing or un-outlined fonts, and/or un-embedded links.
Font issues arise when the art still has EDITABLE TEXT, and the computer it is being opened up on doesn’t have that font in the system.
When they open the art it in Adobe Illustrator, they will receive a MISSING FONT ERROR dialog box, and the missing font will be highlighted in pink. Even if the replaced font looks close, the font can be subtly different in a way that is not immediately noticeable. To prevent this, the artist should convert all text to outlines. Select all text and on the menu select TYPE > CREATE OUTLINES (cmd+Shift+O (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+O (Windows)).
Sometimes, the font will not be replaced, but the text will show as black text in outline mode (Second example above). This means the text is not outlined, but the system was able to find the font. The issue here is the text can be edited. Be extra careful when reviewing and comparing the font to a PDF preview of the art. Prior to sending the final art to the production line, you will need to convert the fonts to outlines.
When completed, your font will look like the third example (in outline mode - see the previous article) and will be safe to send for production.
Missing links are becoming an increasingly common issue for vector artwork due to graphic design teams sharing projects and files with each other. By linking a file, the file object will update every time the source image updates in a linked folder. However, when preparing for pre-production, these objects need to be EMBEDDED to ensure they will travel with the file.
When opening a file with an un-embedded link you will receive an error message dialog box warning you of the missing object. Clicking REPLACE will allow you to find the file if you have access to it while choosing IGNORE will allow you to open the file.
NOTE: Missing links will not show in VIEW MODE. So If you are unsure of what is missing when you fully open the file, viewing in OUTLINE MODE will reveal a shape with an X through it. When this happens, please make sure to embed your art before sending it to production.
When it comes to raster art it is very important to understand two things.
First raster art is only good for full color, CMYK or Digitial Print Production. Most promotional products require vector art.
Second, make sure the files meet minimum print quality requirements. The minimum industry standard for quality reproduction is 300 DPI or Dots per inch at inset size. You will often see terms like DPI, PPI, and Resolution when discussing Raster images, but they all basically mean the same thing. The number of pixels or dots in a single square inch.
For this section, we are going to pretend we are producing a full-color 4” sticker, which means we need art that is at least 4” and 300 DPI or resolution. This process is actually quite simple.