We’ve been in the label business since 1984, so we’ve seen a thing or two when it comes to label artwork. While we’ve received some truly stunning designs, we’ve also seen customers waste time, money and energy on avoidable mistakes. Here are the top four label artwork problems we’ve seen and how you can avoid them:
1. Font conflicts
Fonts have inherent challenges that complicate the handoff from designer to printer. Depending on the program used to create or read a font, a program or software version may interpret font styles and sizes differently. Just because a font has the same name doesn’t mean all programs will read it consistently. There are also thousands of fonts available to the design community, and many designers create custom fonts, making it impossible for a label supplier to access that font by having it preloaded on its computer.
The only way to avoid these issues is to provide your label printer with the font file or convert your label’s text to paths.
2. Color replication imperfections
If you see a color you like, perhaps on a website or article of clothing, it’s difficult to flawlessly reproduce that color in print unless it’s a solid color like the red, white and blue of the American flag. Introducing any variation of color, like a lighter blue, gradients of a flag waving, or shadows, complicates the color composition. Similar to when you match paint for your home, artwork colors can be reproduced using a color matching system, but it isn’t perfect.
For a perfect color replication, provide your label printer with the Pantone Matching System (PMS) colors. By specifying the Pantone name or number, you can guarantee that your color is exact.
3. Low-quality images
If an image looks great on your website or Facebook page, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the quality will translate to your label. For a crisp and professional look, the pixels or tiny dots of color need to be smaller and closer together than for the web, which typically only requires a resolution of 72 to 120 dpi (dots per inch).
Before sending your artwork to your label printer, make sure you include high-resolution images or photos that are a minimum of 600 dpi.
4. Drop shadow preset styles
A drop shadow, or a visual effect that looks like a shadow, allows artists to add depth or a raised effect to an otherwise flat object. While this effect looks great on a computer, it doesn’t always translate to print. Drop shadows look black on a computer monitor but actually require a four-color process to make the effect convincing. Design programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator make it easy to add effects like this with preset styles, but they typically default to lower quality images with ambiguous color makeup.
When including special effects like drop shadows in your label artwork, create high-resolution images that are at least 600 dpi; control your color values by providing your label printer with a Pantone name or number (PMS).
Advancements in technology have paved the way for design innovation, but have also opened up room for digital issues with fonts, colors, image quality, and design effects that, if not caught, can result in a label that misrepresents your brand. To make your next labeling project a success, be mindful of these tips and also download our eGuide, How to Create the Perfect Label: The 5 Most Important Questions to Ask.