File Prep Tips

by Olivia Goree


March 20, 2020
No Text on Backers or Liners

One of our Merchandising standards is that backer and liner designs should not include any text. Since these accessory items are non-customizable, we want to avoid any confusion among customers who may think they can edit this text within the design on site. When building out your suite, please ensure you are using artwork for these pieces that do not include any type (even if it’s outlined or hand lettered!).


February 28, 2020
Avoid ink smears by altering your CMYK builds

For all CMYK color builds, we recommend making sure the total value does not exceed 255. Having a value larger than this can cause oversaturation, meaning the heavy ink coverage can cause the ink to smear since it can’t fully absorb into the paper. Double-check your total CMYK values in your final files before submitting!


January 21, 2020
Reducing points & simplifying foil elements

When preparing winning foil-pressed designs for file submission, it’s important that foil elements are as simplified as possible (meaning the compound path doesn’t have an extremely large number of points). Elements with a large number of points may have trouble processing in our launch tools.


Original traced artwork on the left has 724 total points, whereas the simplified version on the right has 93 points.

To reduce the points in your foil element, you can use either the “Smooth Tool” to smooth out the edges of your compound path, or use the “Simplify” feature to remove points in an element.

Smooth tool: The smooth tool can be found in the left tool panel and can be dragged across a textured path to smooth it out and reduce the number of points.

Simplify tool: The simplify tool can reduce the amount of points in an element by a certain percentage. You can also control curve precision and angle threshold.


December 19, 2019
Total CMYK value must meet a minimum of 15

We recently set a new standard that requires the total CMYK value of a given color to be a minimum of 15 for final files. We set this minimum to increase ink stability and ensure consistent color values when printing, after noticing color consistency issues for CMYK values lower than 15. Moving forward, please ensure any CMYK colors (aside from white) use a minimum value of 15 across all CMYK values combined.


November 14, 2019
No More Accidental Glyphs

In order for text on your cards to be editable in our customizer, it cannot include any glyphs. Not sure if your textbox has glyphs included? Do a quick check — select the textbox, open the “Open Type” panel (Window > Open Type) and make sure none of the icons are selected on the bottom row. If any are highlighted, click the icons to remove all glyphs from your textbox!


October 24, 2019
Round up those font sizes!

Our design customizer tool can only accommodate font sizes set to whole numbers. If you have any fonts set as decimals in your file (e.g., 11.5), make sure to either round up or down. Please double-check that they meet our Minted font minimums to help avoid delays processing your files!


September 20, 2019
Don’t forget about bleed/trim!

Challenge submission templates for stationery cards are set to 5’’x7’’ to give voters an accurate view of final designs. However, templates that winners receive when submitting final Illustrator files are set to 5.2’’x7.2’’ to account for a 0.1’’ bleed & trim around all edges of the card when printed.

When preparing your winning files, please do not stretch your original 5×7’’ design to fill the 5.2’’x7.2’’ artboard space including the trim, as important elements of your design may be trimmed off when printed. Make sure to place your original design on the larger artboard within the trim lines, and then extend any background artwork (or elements intended to bleed off the edge of the card) to the edge of the artboard.


August 22, 2019
Rich Black vs. Flat Black: What’s the Difference?

Rich black is a color build that includes all values of C, M, Y and K to produce a deeper black tone when printed, and should be used for large areas of black artwork. Our team recommends using a CMYK build of (45, 45, 45, 100) for these elements.

Flat black has a CMYK build of (0, 0, 0, 100) and should be used for finer black details or smaller type.


July 23, 2019
How to approach Alternate Greetings with foil-pressed Holiday designs

If your design is foil-pressed, then it’s possible that the greeting in your design is a foil-pressed element. This element should stay on the “FOIL” layer. To ensure designs are easily found by customers, we require at least one element on one of the alternate greeting layers.

In these cases, we want a non-foil element on the alternate greeting layer your foil greeting corresponds to. Since “joy” in the example above is a holiday greeting, we would place the family name textbox on the “holiday text” layer.

If your design is foil-pressed but the foil element is not what would be considered an alternate greeting (i.e. if you have foil dots or star illustrations for example), proceed with alternate greetings as you would for non-foil designs.


June 19, 2019
How to set up foil artwork in Illustrator

It’s important that foil elements are set up a specific way in final files– this allows us to properly create foil dies for our printers to use, as well as correctly create site imagery for your design. Foil elements should be combined into one compound path, using only one clipping mask to crop the foil image. Note that this is per artboard (so if you are using the combined templates, you should have a single compound path with foil elements for each item in your suite). Follow these steps below to create your foil artwork correctly:

1. Expand foil design elements, so they are set as fill-only vector elements (meaning no strokes).
All foil elements should be in vector format and set as “fill-only” (no strokes applied). If foil elements include strokes, expand appearance to convert them to fill-only by going to Object > Expand within Illustrator.

2. Make foil element(s) a single compound path.
Combine your foil design elements into one compound path by using the Compound Path function in the Object menu (select all elements you want to foil on the artboard and go to Object > Compound Path > Make).

3. Place foil .jpeg texture in Illustrator directly behind the compound path.
Place the desired Minted foil or gloss texture in your Illustrator file by going to Object > Place. Make sure the compound path is sitting on top of the foil/gloss texture.

4. Select both compound path & foil texture and create a clipping mask.
With both elements selected, create a compound path by going to Object > Clipping Mask > Make. When you’re done, place this on the FOIL layer in your templates.


May 10, 2019
How to easily place high-resolution photos into Adobe Illustrator files

There are a variety of ways to place an image into Adobe Illustrator, but one process in particular optimizes your file for the Minted Production team (and helps avoid errors with large . Follow these steps to place a photo in your file and scale it down within Illustrator.

1. In Illustrator, go to “File” > “Place”.

2. Select the desired photo from the pop-up box and click “Place”.

3. Click and drag the photo to achieve the desired photo size.


Then to scale down the photo…

4. With the photo selected, go to “Object” > “Rasterize”.

5. In the “Resolution” section, select “High (300 ppi)”.
Make sure “Background” is set to “Transparent,” then click “OK”.


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. She is also a member of the Minted community and has a strong passion for hand-lettering and typography, which can be seen in her work. Visit Olivia’s Minted Artist Store and follow her on Instagram @oliviagoree or @oliviagoreedesign.

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