I'm tasked with designing the FIRST billboard for our store. I'm excited and I have the design all set, but I wanted to know if I've done this right.

The specs are as follows:

Final Trim (includes pockets and bleed): 13’4”h x 49’4”w
Live area: 12’h x 48’w

Safety: 11’4”x47’4”

7 ounce lightweight vinyl

Mechanical Size
Scale: 1/4” =1’0”
3”h x 12”w Live Area
2.812h” x 11.812w” Safety
3.312h” x 12.312w” with Bleed and Pockets
400 ppi image resolution at above mechanical size
All art bleeds
Any live fonts or images used in the file must be provided.

4” pockets
4” bleed

So...first of all, I can't see how to get this to be 400 ppi. I'm using Illustrator. I'm a newbie. And I'm not sure how to set the bleeds.

  • 3
    Whomever gave you the 400ppi specs for a billboard is most likely mistaken.
    – Ryan
    Mar 2 '18 at 17:36
  • 1
    The specs are run together so it is confusing, but that actually looks like it says 1/4 inch = 1 foot (i.e. not 1/4 size). 3" live area * 4 quarter inches is 12; the Real World live area size is 12 feet. As far as the 400ppi, they want a 3 x 12 inch live area, so you'd give them 1200 x 4800 pixels for that area.
    – Yorik
    Mar 2 '18 at 18:19
  • As a casual observer of billboard signs I'd like to remind you that if you can't read it from far away it's useless. It seems like these days people make designs for billboards purposely with fonts way too small or colors that make it unreadable. Make sure you can print it out and read everything from a great distance. It should be simple and above all readable. As far as getting it to 400ppi that's an export setting in illustrator. Did your printer tell you what format they need? Eps, pdf, jpg, png? it would help a lot if you make an edit in your question and state what format they expect. Mar 2 '18 at 18:23
  • 1
    "Any live fonts or images used in the file must be provided." That sounds like they want an AI file. Not a rasterized file. So why would you even need to worry about 400ppi? Unless they are talking about raster elements inside of an ai file. Mar 2 '18 at 18:28
  • Does your design contain raster elements? If not, then there's no need to worry about PPI. Vectors don't have a resolution.
    – Billy Kerr
    Mar 2 '18 at 18:51

I'm not entirely sure where your confusion lies.

The Mechanical Size provides all the spec's you'll need.

Merely set up a 12" x 3" document, ensure you have a .156" bleed (.312 / 2), and that's it.

enter image description here

To factor the safety area, grab the rectangle tool, click the artboard once and the rectangle pop up should appear. Input the safety area measurements (11.812 x 2.812') and click OKAY.

enter image description here

Then align that resulting rectangle to be centered both vertically and horizontally to the artboard. Finally turn the rectangle into guides by choosing View > Guides > Make Guides.

That should give you the overall file set up with the artboard the size of the live area, red guides for the bleed area and cyan guides for the safety area:

enter image description here

As for PPI.. if you are creating only vector content within Illustrator you don't need to worry about PPI.

If you are placing raster images into this Illustrator document, you will want to ensure all raster images are at 400ppi before you place them in Illustrator. And then do NOT enlarge placed raster images within Illustrator. Enlarging a 400ppi image within Illustrator will lower the image PPI.

If you intend to use built in effect in Illustrator such as drop shadows, blurs, and glows, you will want to adjust the Document Raster Effects Settings in the Effects Menu.

enter image description here

Set this to "other" then 400ppi.

enter image description here

Note that this only alteres raster items created within Illustrator this setting does not alter any placed raster images.

CS6 screenshots, but it's all the same in CC, windows may look slightly different that's all.

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