Top 10 File Prep Tips for Minted Artists

By Olivia Goree

If you’ve won a Minted Challenge, congratulations! While you’re still basking in winner’s glow, you’ll receive a file request email from We understand that there are a lot of elements to keep track of when setting up your customizable art and stationery files. Here’s a list of what we consider the Top 10 File Preparation Tips to help you clean up your files and get your designs launched as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

1. Use Provided Template Layers

The layers in your provided Minted templates are not only there to help us with our production process, but also to help you organize your artwork. These layers mimic how a customer is able to customize your design on our site, so placing elements in the correct layers is very important. The foil layer, for example, is placed on top, as this is the last piece printed on top of all other digital elements.

For more information on how to utilize these layers, read the File Prep Instructions PDF included in your request email or check out the Templates & Layers FAQ.

2. Tackle Tricky Text Boxes

When formatting text boxes, it’s important to put yourself in the customer’s shoes. Text in each text box should consist of the same font and character settings in order to work in our customizer. For example, in “Safari Party Animals” by Snow and Ivy, you’ll notice that each text treatment is separated out in the design file, which allows a customer to change text in each area while keeping the same styling. Important reminder: Avoid using glyphs in any editable text, if possible.

To learn more about setting up text in your files, see our Text Settings FAQ Page.

3. No More Shifting Colorways

The Recolor tool in Illustrator is your best friend when it comes to creating additional colorways. It’s essential for artwork and text in all colorways to maintain the same placement in your files in order to display properly on our site. Start first by building out your default colorway, and then utilize the Recolor tool to change your color scheme for each additional colorway. See our Creating Colorways FAQ page for a more in-depth explanation on how to use this helpful tool.

If your file uses raster images (such as watercolor textures), there is also an easy way to set up these images to be recolored in Illustrator. Check out our Editable Textures video for tips on how to do this.

4. Choosing Flat Black vs. Rich Black

If your design includes any black elements, it’s important to set these to the correct color settings in order to ensure the best possible print quality for your design. For thinner black elements, such as text or fine details, set these to Flat Black (100K). For larger and more solid black areas (such as backgrounds), set these to Rich Black (45C, 45M, 45Y, 100K). Just make sure your file is in CMYK mode first!

5. Link Those Images!

While embedding images doesn’t seem like much of a helpful tip, it’s a commonly missed step in the file prep process and leads to missing images when we work on your files. If your file includes images, it’s important to make sure these images are 300 ppi and embedded prior to submitting. To embed images, make sure your image is selected, and choose “Embed Image(s)” from the dropdown menu in the Links panel.

6. Fonts, Fonts, Fonts

We highly encourage our community members to surface new and exciting fonts to add to our Minted Font Library. However, we can’t always guarantee we will receive licensing to use it. If you are using a font in your design that is not on our Minted Master Font List, it’s helpful to place an outlined version off the artboard. That way, if the text is non-customizable and we acquire the rights to use it outlined, we won’t need you to re-submit files to us later on. To learn more about using fonts, check out our Using Non-Minted Fonts FAQ page.

Note: It is also helpful to include a possible substitute from our Minted Font List if we cannot acquire licensing. Include this in the font section within your templates.

7. Formatting Foil Elements

It’s important to remember that foil elements cannot be customized or moved, and are printed last on top of all digital elements. During the foiling process, it’s possible these elements can shift up to 1/16th of an inch, so ensuring your design will still look nice while keeping this in mind is essential! When designing for foil-pressed cards, make sure foil elements are at least 1 pt in thickness and thin borders are avoided. If we see potential registration issues, we may have to adjust your design on our end prior to launch.

8. Be Consistent With Fonts

While this tip ties in with #3 about additional colorways, it’s especially important that the same fonts are used throughout all colorways in order to retain consistency. The Paste-In-Place tool (Shift+Command+V on a Mac or Shift+Control+V on a PC) can help keep fonts and placement the same when building your files!

9. Print Your Own Proofs

An important and simple final step before submitting! Oftentimes lighter pastel designs appear beautiful on screen, but unfortunately print out with illegible text or nearly white artwork. Printing out your designs to see what they look like off-screen and on actual paper ensures all your text is legible and artwork appears how you intended. Be cautious with dark purples and blues as well, as these often appear black when printed.

10. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

The Minted Community is a group of incredible designers who are always there to lend a helping hand. The Minted Community Facebook Group is a resource for asking file prep questions that designers in the same boat as you may be struggling with, and a great place to share knowledge with other fellow artists.

Click here for a list of all Minted file preparation tutorials.

About the Author: Olivia Goree is a Community Support Specialist on the Artist Relations Team at Minted. She is the design community’s source of contact regarding file preparation and submission. Prior to working at Minted, she graduated from Cal Poly SLO with a degree in graphic communication and a concentration in design reproduction technology. She is also a member of the Minted community and has a strong passion for handlettering and typography, which can be seen in her work. Visit Olivia’s Minted Artist Store and follow her on Instagram @oliviagoreedesign.

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Published March 3, 2016


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