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I make posters as a hobby, and usually use exclusively Adobe Illustrator. However, I'm working on a project that also requires Photoshop.

My question is, how should I prepare the finished poster for print?

In Illustrator it's easy when you can set the bleeds when creating the file and save the finished product as a PDF with crop marks, but what is the common practice in the graphic design industry for situations like this? Should I somehow bring the project into Indesign in order to get a PDF? If so, what is the best way to do this?

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  • The photoshop file must be on a real printing size

  • Must have a good resolution for printing: 300 ppi

  • The file must be CMYK if it's for offset printing. Digital printers allow to print a RGB file, but maybe you get a surprise with the colors.

  • Check the profile, the printer profile if you have it or a standard profile if you don't: Menu Edit > Assign Profile

profile

  • After this you can save the file in a printing format like Tiff and is ready to print.
  • If you or your printer prefer a PDF file, from Photoshop you can save as PDF too, choose High Quality Print and convert to destination profile on Output. My personal opinion is if you get a good Tiff file then you don't need to transform it to PDF.
  • Photoshop has not settings for bleed area, add the bleed margin on the size of your file.

profile

  • If you want to put the Tiff file on Illustrator or Indesign to get a printing PDF you can, but is a nonsense if the whole poster is made on Photoshop.
  • Thank you for the swift answer. I was kind of looking for a more simple solution. I understand and appreciate your instructions, but figuring out how many pixels I need to add to my project in order to get a 3 mm bleed is a bit tedious, if you know what I mean. Cause then I need to be aware of not going over that imaginary line on the artboard. I wonder why there isn't an easier solution? Maybe I'll just import the whole thing on Indesign and make a PDF, it appears to be easier. – mntblnk May 7 '18 at 8:17
  • I don't think is a good idea to mix pixels and mm. Pixel size files are for screen, mm or cm file size are for printing. If you create your file in pixels, how do you know the printing size? The step by step on my answer is the logic way to save a file for printing from Photoshop. – Danielillo May 7 '18 at 8:26
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    @mntblnk You dont need to once your PPI/DPI value is set then pohotoshop can calculat ethat for you. Just type in mm values. (btw if its a big poster you might want to lower the pixel density to 150) – joojaa May 7 '18 at 8:44
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Myths:

  • A file must be 300 ppi

  • A file must have bleed

  • A file must be in cmyk

Rules:

  • A file should be in 300 ppi

  • A file should have bleed

  • A file should be in cmyk


I am not mocking anyone. You should understand what is important when it is actually important.

Your main problem, in my opinion, is this phrase:

a project that also requires Photoshop

That is a little tiny bit too dam very board.

Resoultion

Let's try to set up some scenarios. Analyzing these will start to show why the myths are actually myths and not rules.

  1. You have a photo, let's say a 24 Mpx portrait that you need to either adjust, colorize, clean, make transparent or whatever. You probably want to keep the file as the original size, 24 Mpx.

You can totally forget the 300ppi here. You have a 24Mpx file, regardless if you are going to use it later on a magazine cover or a poster.

  1. You want to make a new digital paint.

If it is small and for an electronic medium, leave it as the final size in px. PPI is meaningless.

If it is for print at a small size, set up your document at the final size at 300ppi, that is with the bleed included. It does not matter if you consider it tedious. If you need it, you need it. If you don't... you don't.

If it is a big size, or you want an illustration regardless the print size, set up your document at a maximum file size of 6000 px on the longest side. It does not matter if it's going to be a 10 mt wall.

Bleed

Design your illustration thinking about a "safe area" not a bleed. The safe area is only to keep visually important stuff safe if you need to make a crop later. A bleed is only a physical crop, but you could need a composition crop. Just keep that in mind.

CMYK

Just define your color profiles correctly. Choose a generic CMYK profile to visualize "duller" colors that RGB ones. Keep working at RGB and make some print tests or let the prepress guys handle this.

You only need to setup CMYK values "only" on commercial offset print. Not "digital" print.


You can clearly see when you actually should use 300ppi and when you can not, think about bleed as a crop and forget about cmyk if you do not know if you need it.


The output...

If you do not have an idea on what to send, just flatten a copy of the file and deliver a PSD RGB flat file, or export a high-quality JPG file (yes, a JPG file) or a TIF file.

Do not send a PDF file if you do not know what to configure inside the PDF. Only send a PDF file if you have a specific print size or configuration.

In that case, import your image into Illustrator or Indesign and send the PDF from there.

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