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Easily add bleed and crop marks in Photoshop

Added on Wednesday 27th of June 2007 02:15 am EST


Adobe Photoshop 7/CS/CS2

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows



There may come a time when you’ll need to incorporate printer’s marks in your Photoshop documents. But the options for these aren’t in plain sight, and some of them you have to fudge and create yourself. We’ll show you how.



To create printers’ marks in Photoshop, we’ll:

     Show you how to properly set up your canvas to accommodate a full bleed of any size.

     Explain how to utilize the Print With Preview feature to print to your desktop printer with crop marks and bleeds.

     Teach you how to draw your own crop marks if your printer requires them.



Bleeds and crop marks are built-in features of page layout applications such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress. But what if you’re working exclusively in Photoshop? Whether you want to print and trim pieces to create high-quality mockups, or if your print vendor requests printer’s marks in your files, these options aren’t in plain sight. However, you can easily set up your document to accommodate for bleeds, and you can activate crop marks when you print or even add your own. We’ll show you how easy it can be—once you know the secrets.


Set your bleed


When you print with a full bleed, your image extends all the way to the edge of the paper, as shown in the postcard design in Figure A. When you set up a document to print a full bleed, you actually need to extend the image beyond the edge of the final print size. If you don’t, misregistration can occur when the piece is trimmed, causing an unsightly white edge (or whatever color your paper is).



To accommodate for a full bleed in Photoshop, you have to make the canvas size a little larger than the final piece. How much bigger depends on the size of your bleed. If your print vendor requires a one eighth-inch bleed, that means you must extend each side of your image one eighth-inch beyond the final print size. For example, if your printed piece will be 6 x 4 inches and you want a 0.125-inch bleed on all four sides, your Photoshop document canvas size should be 6.25 x 4.25 inches.

Ideally, you’d set up your document from the start to accommodate for the bleed. If your work is already in progress and you would like to add a 0.125-inch bleed to your document, all you have to do is increase the canvas size.


To add a 0.125-inch bleed:

1.       Choose Image > Canvas Size to display the Canvas Size dialog box.

2.      Choose Inches from the New Size Width and Height pop-up menus.

3.      Add 0.25 to the existing Width (0.125 for each side of the document) and enter that total in the Width text box. Add 0.25 to the existing Height and enter that total in the Height text box.

4.      Select the center anchor marker as shown in Figure B.





Note: By default, Photoshop 7 applies the background color to the extended canvas size. CS/CS2 users can select an option from the Canvas extension color pop-up menu.



5. Click OK.


If you increase a canvas of an image in progress, at this point you may need to adjust your imagery to compensate for the increased canvas size. As you design your image, make sure you don’t include any important image information outside the bleed. A really quick and easy way to mark the bleed lines while you work is to simply use Photoshop’s ruler option, and drag guidelines out.


To add bleed lines:

1.       Choose View > Rulers.

2.      [control]-click (right-click in Windows) on the Ruler and choose Inches from the pop-up menu.

3.      Click and drag a grid line from the top ruler, down 0.125 inches and release. Repeat this step and drag the second grid line to 0.125 inches from the bottom of your image’s canvas.



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