I am creating a album with stickers, each sticker is die cut and has a special place in the album. How do i create a bleed for each sticker that can be correctly interpreted by the machine that cuts the sticker so, in the end, to obtain a sticker that fits its special place in the album?

Here is a example: enter image description here

I will print them at a typography, the problem is, will they be able to make a exact die cut so those stickers fit exactly with the bleed i have made? do i have to export the sticker without bleed as well so they can use its shape on the stickers with bleed? do i have to add a vector path on the tiff with bleed? what is the best way? is there a better way to create a bleed for the stickers?


2 Answers 2


For this kind of project:


Not only you need to be careful about bleed, but you need to make sure your sticker is a bit bigger than the white area in your book. Otherwise it will look weird and white borders will be visible if the stickers are not perfectly applied! People don't apply stickers perfectly, you need to add a few millimeters to help them a bit.

Because of this, you have some freedom on how you want the sticker shape to be and it doesn't need (and shouldn't) be exactly the same as your white illustration.


Import your illustrations in Illustrator and trace the shapes of your dielines in Illustrator. It will be way more precise.

Printers prefer vector format for this anyway.

I suggest you isolate all your illustrations on their own files and make sure your illustrator files have the same size as your illustrations. I personally like to add trim marks to my dieline files and my artworks; this way I'm certain everything is centered when I import the dielines and the artworks in InDesign or when I prepare my final print-ready.

This is how it should look like:

Dieline and dicut of irregular shape in Adobe Illustrator


Once you'll have your outlines, you can import the "bleed" one back in Photoshop and use it to create a layer mask if you want.

One "cheat" you can do is to add a white filling on the outside part of the dashed line on my example... and place your illustration under this! This way you won't need to create clipping mask in Photoshop to hide the part of the illustration that isn't the bleed.

Note: You really don't need to add as much bleed as I did. Refer to the url at the end of this answer for bleed info.

Bleed on peel off sticker

The only line you'll provide to your printer is the dieline line, the one shown as a solid line on my example. This line should be in Spot Color (pantone for example) and NOT in CMYK. It should also be "overprint" if you don't provide it on its own file (eg. if you provide the dieline with the artwork in one file)

Printers usually prefer separate files for the print and dieline. Don't forget to also send a JPG proof with both printed illustration and dieline; the printer will be able to see what you expect as result and verify his own work.


Finally, once you'll have your artwork with the bleed AND the dieline, you can prepare your final file with the dieline + the artwork perfectly aligned. You could import all this in InDesign. You can also use Illustrator if you prefer.

Montage of dieline and artwork together

This is how your final print-ready files should look like (but with the colored chicken though):


Illustration with bleed print-ready



PS: The more corners and sides your dielines will have, the more expensive it will be; it requires more time to create the matrice but also more time to diecut the job. There's more technical issues for the guy who will do the diecut job if your corners are very pointy... it's better to use corners that are a bit rounded instead of perfectly pointy corners.

PPS: It doesn't really matter if your bleed isn't the same exact shape as your diecut. It could even be a rectangle in fact. I'm guessing the stickers will be on their own white sheets and will go in the trash after the stickers will be peeled off from the sheets and applied to the book. Where you need to be precise is with the dieline and the extra margin I suggested you.

Extra info on dielines/diecut, bleed, etc. here


Photoshop is the wrong tool for the job since Photoshop is essentially a raster program whereas a dieline is a vector. That being the case you will need to use a program that was designed to handle vectors. I'd highly recommend inDesign in this instance since it handles both vector (the dieline) and raster images (the illustration) very well.

This process is only to be used if the sticker is actually part of the page - not like on separate sheet of stickers. That being said, the setup is essentially the same.

Here's how I'd handle it:

  1. Save your Photoshop file as a PSD (or any other lossless format). Be sure to include bleed in this file (for the page, not the sticker). For example, if your final size is A4 (210 x 297mm), make sure your Photoshop file is 216 x 303mm.
  2. Open up Indesign and create a new page that measures your final trim size - 210 x 297mm in my example. Be sure to set bleeds to 3mm.
  3. Create a image frame and size it 216 x 303mm. Drop your PSD in there and center it (Cmd + Shift + E).
  4. Lock the layer with the Photoshop image and create a new layer on top of this - name it "dieline" if you like.
  5. Create a dieline spot colour by going to "Swatches" palette and selecting "New Colour Swatch" from the drop down.
  6. Change "Process" to "Spot", name it "dieline" and set it's colour to 100% Magenta - or Cyan. It doesn't really matter what the colour is but those are the standard colours used in printing.
  7. Now make that new swatch your active stroke colour and start drawing your dieline using the pen tool.

All that's left is to export to a press ready PDF - don't forget your bleeds and export as CMYK, not RGB.


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