In Illustrator's print dialog, I can choose trim marks and color bars, however it decides to place them outside of the print area.

The print I'm working on will be die-cut and would like to move the registration marks and color bars to a specific area inside the die-cut area.

Is it possible to get access to those marks in illustrator as objects? I'd be happy with a pointer to a vector based template as well.


There are a lot of options for setting up the color bars. I've included some examples below that would not be generated by Adobe's defaults.

Your exact color controls depend on:

  • Press operator preference

  • Press requirements

  • Project specifics

The smart approach: Let the printer set them up or at least provide them for you.

Here are a couple of very good overviews:

The Print Guide: The Color Bar

Printing Industries of America: Controlling Color "By the Numbers"

Color Traps

Doubling Targets

Dot Gain

Brown Balance

To get the Adobe standard marks in vector format

Save out a PDF file from Illustrator via File > Save a copy and check "All printer's marks" to get the whole enchilada.

enter image description here

I believe you still have to uncheck "Preserve Illustrator editing" so it doesn't do some weird magic to hide that stuff from you in Illustrator.

enter image description here

Then you can open the PDF in Illustrator and copy out all that press goodness.

enter image description here

Since that's pretty tough,

here's a PDF file that's ready to use.


The auto-generated marks can not be accessed. However, you can draw your own marks and create your own color bars and then simply not use the auto-generated marks. Just be certain to stroke/fill your custom marks with the proper "Registration" color when needed.

  • What I posted was 100% accurate. Plainclothes simply cannibalized a PDF. Which is fine. However, that's not the same as adjusting the auto-marks (which you can't do). What Plainclothes is basically saying is "draw your own" which is exactly what I posted.
    – Scott
    Aug 13 '13 at 19:56
  • Ok, perhaps calling it not-accurate is not-accurate. However, they can still be used without any drawing of one's own, which to me is access since I'm able to move the same registration marks around and avoid drawing that funny twirly shape from scratch. Your answer directs me to give up and make my own which suggest (perhaps justifiably given the lack of posts on GD.SE) the OP doesn't know how to draw crosshairs and such ;)
    – MandoMando
    Aug 13 '13 at 20:56
  • True. Copy/pasting from some source is different than drawing your own. And deleting snarky comments because your incorrect simply makes the conversation look a bit silly.
    – Scott
    Aug 13 '13 at 20:57
  • I apologize, I didn't intend for that comment to be taken as snarky. The only snarky part is the last sentence of my last comment which is in jest and not meant to offend. Either way, your contribution is gracefully appreciated.
    – MandoMando
    Aug 13 '13 at 21:02

I think you may be confused about the die line and the placement of the printer's marks.

The die line is not printed. It is provided as a non-printing guide to the area to be preserved after cutting. The die line is used by the die-cutter in the design of the cutting die.

The die line is a non-printing layer.

Printer's marks are always inside the printing area. That's why they are called printer's marks. They provide standard artwork to be interpreted by the press operator. Do not generate your own as they are an industry standard and the artwork is tightly controlled.

I think what you meant to say is that the printer's marks are always outside the artboard/canvas area. It is the same as cut or fold marks which are outside the display area in the flat.

Printers marks are often printed around the edge of the press sheet to be unobtrusive but comprehensive enough to be used for quality assurance and colour fidelity.

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