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I've got a design that needs to be printed for an 4' by 8' window decal. The design is entirely vector, so I know that it can be resized, but what I don't know is how I should save it. Should I just give the decal printers an .ai file with say a 400x800px artboard, or should it be prepared some other way?

  • Is there some reason why you can't make the artboard at the actual size? 96" x 48" – Billy Kerr Mar 27 '18 at 16:22
  • I can. I'm wondering if I should. Since it's a vector, do the dimensions even matter, so long as the proportions are kept? OR since it'll be printed, should I have the file I sent already in those dimensions? Also, a bit off topic, but do you know where I can learn how billboards or building wraps are made (ie artboard size, file formats used, for designs that have photos....like those huge iphone ads) – sashaikevich Mar 27 '18 at 19:16
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    @sashaikevich it make for less likelihood of errors. For example if you say the image need to be X units wide, is one thing. But there might be a misunderstanding from where this size should be measured. Offcourse if your printer tells you otherwise then do as they tell you. The less work your let the printers do the less there can be miscommunication. – joojaa Mar 27 '18 at 20:38
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If you can be assured that the decal cutters can take an AI file, you are ready to go. Ensure that you don't have a newer version of Illustrator than the vendor. If you do, use File, Save As and select a version to match your vendor. It would not hurt to create a PDF file at the same time, perhaps an EPS just to cover all the bases. Some vinyl cutters are using CorelDraw. If your version of Illustrator supports .CDR export, drop one of those in there too. It's not that much more work to create four or five different format files.

You are correct that being vector means easy enlargement, as long as your vendor knows the final size.

  • Thanks. Now I'm curious, what would I do if the vendor doesn't know the final size? Is there a safeguard that I could implement? – sashaikevich Mar 27 '18 at 9:57
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    When you tell the vendor the final size, he will know it. Consider to reference specific parts of the design as the points of measure. If the design has a pointed top and a flat bottom, you can provide a reference based on those two locations. You need only provide one measurement, keeping aspect ratio constant based on your original. – fred_dot_u Mar 27 '18 at 10:19
  • There is no safeguard, but the document size itself shows your intention. Why not make the document 1:1? – Wolff Mar 27 '18 at 19:40
  • The OP states that the artboard is 400 x 800 pixels. At 200 dpi, that's a 2 inch by 4 inch image. Obviously, a change in scale would be needed for one-to-one. – fred_dot_u Mar 27 '18 at 19:48
  • @fred_dot_u err this is illustrator! Illustrator has a inbuilt fudge to make drawing pixel images possible where it always assumes all pixels are 72dpi. So that image is in fact 5,56 inches by 11,11 inches. Illustrator couldn't care less of your DPI – joojaa Mar 27 '18 at 20:35

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