What is Vector Artwork?
This is artwork that we can manipulate and separate into individual elements for branding. This artwork is also the highest quality and is in the original design format. Vector artwork is created using vector illustration software programmes such as Adobe Illustrator or Corel Draw. These programmes use points, lines and shapes to create artwork that can be scaled infinitely without any loss of quality.
Vector artwork is editable and the artwork can be changed according to your specifications.
Which formats would be considered Vector?
There are a few formats that will be acceptable, namely:
- Adobe Illustrator (.ai)
- Corel Draw (.cdr)
- Freehand (.fh)
Please note: vector and non-vector artwork, or a combination of the two, can be stored in any of the above formats.
In order to check if artwork is vector, zoom into the image. If you see pixellated edges, as illustrated below, it means the artwork is non-vector (vector artwork will remain crisp and clear no matter how much you zoom into the image). Alternatively, click on the artwork and if a blue block appears around it, as illustrated below right, it means that the artwork is non-vector and the elements cannot be separated.
Crisp & clear edges = vector artwork
Pixelated edges = non-vector artwork
Blue block around image = non-vector artwork
Why is it that other suppliers accept non-vector and we insist on it?
We have a very high quality standard when it comes to branding. Artwork has a lot to do with the quality of branding. If the quality of the artwork is not acceptable we will not use it as it will compromise the quality of the branding. Certain branding methods can use very high quality jpeg images for branding, these methods include embroidery, digital processes and CMYK screen printing. However we cannot amend jpeg artwork at all, e.g. change the colour of a logo.
We do not use quick traced artwork as quick traces often result in uneven lines and this compromises the print quality, we would rather recommend a redraw of the logo.
What is quick traced artwork?
There is a tool in Corel Draw that allows you to automatically convert a non-vector logo into vector. This tool does not always work well, the reason is because it simply traces the edges of the artwork and where colours start and end. The result is a vector image but it will be broken and the edges will not be smooth. For this reason we do not use quick traced artwork because it compromises the quality of the branding.
What types of artwork are required for the different branding processes?
Vector artwork is required for the below processes:
- Screen printing (spot colours)
- Pad Printing
- Laser Engraving
Non-vector artwork can be used for the below (please note that it must be high quality):
- Screen Printing (CMYK process only)
- Dome Stickers
- Heat Press
- Digital Transfer Printing
- Direct to Product Printing
Please remember: vector artwork can be used for all of our branding processes. When using non-vector artwork and a change to the artwork is requested, it cannot be actioned and vector artwork will need to be supplied.
Why can we use non-vector for embroidery and not for screen printing?
Screen printing: the print preparation requires that the artwork be separated into its individual colours.
Each element or set of elements that is a different colour gets printed on a different screen, e.g. a 2-colour logo requires 2 different screens.
Embroidery: artwork is digitised as a whole and the colours are specified when digitising. As the logo does not have to be separated into various elements, we do not have to have vector artwork unless changes need to be made to the artwork.
What is a branding guideline?
Guidelines have been created for every item that we can brand. Once a new item is introduced there are samples that are sent to production and each department tests the item to see what the branding capabilities and limitations of the item are.
Once they are done we gather the info and create a branding guideline indicating which positions can be branded, how many colours can be printed, the maximum branding size and which branding methods will work on the item.
What is CMYK printing in screen printing?
This is a method employed in Screen Printing to print a full-colour image that has shading and gradients. This is perfect for printing photographs and detailed images.
This process uses 4 colours, namely: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. It works similarly to digital printing in that it uses a combination of the 4 colours mentioned to print almost every available colour. Like a digital printer, white and metallic cannot be created from these 4 colours and if there is white in the artwork, that must be printed first.
The screens for this process are made such a way that they allow a certain percentage of each ink colour to flow through individual screens.
When branding via CMYK on a white item we charge for a 4-colour print, however if we are branding CMYK on a coloured item we will need to charge for a 5-colour print because we need to print white as a base owing to CMYK inks being semi-transparent.
We have to look at the artwork and the material that you require branding on so that we can determine if a CMYK print will work.
When a client requests to brand in a CMYK colour why can’t it be matched to a Pantone?
If a client supplies a CMYK colour breakdown, but requires that it match a Pantone colour this is not always possible as there are a limited number of Pantone colours that exist, but innumerable CMYK colours. We try to match the colours as closely as possible.
What programme does your layouts department use?
We have a variety of programmes in the layouts department:
- Adobe Illustrator
- Corel Draw
The main programme that we use is Corel Draw.
How long does it take for a layout to be created?
The times will vary from layout to layout dependent on the complexity of the layout or the quality of the artwork that has been provided.
Simple layouts with good quality artwork take a maximum of 10 minutes. If the artwork has many elements and colours and you want us to brand in 1 colour it can take up to 20 minutes to convert it to a 1-colour artwork. If there is personalisation with a large number of names that are going on, e.g. clothing items, the layout can take up to 2 hours to do.
Generally layouts follow a 2 hour lead-time because there are numerous layouts in the queuing system with varying degrees of complexity. When a layout is required, the request gets added to the system at the end of the queue and the layout artists work through each in turn.
Why is it that my logo does not always fit exactly into the size on the guideline?
When a layout is done we need to make sure that the logo is in proportion. If we are branding on a pen, for example, and the guideline says that we can brand 60mm wide and 6mm high, we will need to fit the logo into the area shown on the guideline. Take a look at the example below:
The bubbles can be branded at 6mm high;
- the logo is higher than it is wider so the maximum branding size is limited by the height of the logo.
- If we filled the allowable print area with the logo, the logo will appear stretched and out of proportion.
- In the example below the logo is at 60mm wide and 6mm high, taking up the full branding area, but it does not look anything like the original logo anymore.
What are the minimum height restrictions when branding text in the various branding departments?
In certain departments we can make the text smaller depending on the font and the texture of the item. A basic guideline below:
- Screen Printing 2mm high
- Pad Printing 1mm high
- Debossing/Foiling 4mm high
- Embroidery 5mm high
- Laser Engraving 1mm high
- Sublimation 1mm high
- Heat Press 1mm high
- Stickers/Domed Stickers 1mm high
- Digital Transfer Printing 1mm high
- Direct to Product Printing 0.5mm high
In cases where the text is smaller than given in the above guidelines or the text may close up due to the font used or the texture of the product it is being branded on, we advise leaving off the text.
Why is tone-on-tone embroidery sometimes added on embroidery layouts when I have only asked for specific colours to be branded?
When we have a logo that has gaps in the artwork where the item is going to show through we fill those gaps with thread that is the same colour as the item so that the logo has a neat, professional finish.
Why do you have recommended and not recommended options when I have specified what I want?
When a layout is requested we have to ascertain what will work and take the branding guidelines and texture of the item into consideration. We strive to achieve exactly what your client wants, but that is not always possible as sometimes it will not work.
- In cases where the branding requested will not work we provide you with 2 options:
The option that your client has requested which will be noted as the “Not Recommended” there will be warnings stating why this is not recommended.
- An alternative, “Recommended” option which will not be exactly as your client requested, but that takes all factors, e.g. sizes, texture of item, branding process and the client’s logo, into consideration and will work.
This is put into place to not just protect Amrod but also to protect you, our client. If your client chooses to go ahead with the “not recommended” option and is not happy with the outcome and you have supplied them our layout upfront, you are not liable to replace the order as the layout clearly stated why the branding should not be done and an option that would have worked was supplied.
Why is the number of colours that can be branded limited?
If the item is lined, e.g. a cooler bag, it is difficult to screen print more than one colour. In screen printing we have to apply a light glue spray to the board that the item is loaded on so as to prevent movement of the item during printing. This ensures that the branding position is consistent and that, when branding more than one colour, the registration of the logo is correct. In cases where an item has a lining, only the bottom layer of the lining adheres to the board leaving the top layer loose; as a result we cannot ensure that all of the colours in the logo will register (line up) correctly and consequently restrict the number of colours we brand on certain item.
The number of print colours may be also be restricted due to the type of material the item is made of. When we brand a multi-colour logo the print must be dried after each individual colour is laid down. Some items cannot withstand long periods of heat so we cannot dry each individual colour when branding and we have to restrict the number of print colours.
With regards to branding what does “registration” mean?
This is a term that is used in printing that refers to laying down all the colours of the artwork in the correct places. If the registration is off the colours next to each other will either overlap or be too far apart and spaces will be evident.
Helpful branding tips
- Always check what warnings are on the layouts before you approve it as if it states information like – texture of product will effect print/ small text may not be legible etc and the branding turns out to be as per the layout with the warning we wont accept that job as a reject job.
- Check the colours stated that we will brand and always try give us a Pantone colour, a colour branded may be one shade out from what is mentioned as the colours are mixed.
- If you have a marathon colour please supply this as there are a fraction of marathon colours compared to Pantone colours so matching a thread colour to Pantone colour will never be exact and is often left up to discretion of what we think will work best but your client may have something else in mind.
Why can we not guarantee the exact positioning of embroidery/ print on a striped item?
Panels on garments are inconsistent and one item will not be exactly the same as the next. Because of this, if we brand according to the stripe detail or the panel, the logos will not come out on the left chest branding position resulting in incorrect positioning when the shirt is worn.