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Artwork Guidelines

Large Format Graphic Design Guidelines

Large format graphic design varies from the norm in many aspects. These guidelines will touch on all the essential elements of large format design. They will divulge all the secrets to becoming successful in this niche.

Guideline Content

  • Template Files
  • File Size & Resolution
  • Color & Transparencies
  • Text
  • Visibility
  • File Format
  • Artwork Areas

Template Files

Our templates are designed to get all the details correct and take out the hassle of large format graphic design. We update our templates regularly, and each update offers better features. This is why we recommend that you keep up with our updates and always use the latest template for the best results – unsurprisingly, 95% of large format’s shortcomings and production delays are caused by failure to use templates.


Our templates are available for download on our website. Remember, failure to use templates (or, at the very least, follow the specifications on the template) will lead to rejection of your work.

File Size & Resolution

Most large format files are built at 50% layout size. To this end, all our templates are built at 50% to integrate properly with files and produce the best possible output. However, we realize that some files are larger than this – larger-than-normal files are often built at 25%. With this in mind, we will use the correct size for your file – consequently, we will need you to specify the precise image resolution as per the values on the table below.

file size chart

Tip: Images with the sufficient resolution for large format graphic design are not available on the internet. A majority of online stock photo merchants cater to magazines and web clients. Those looking for high-resolution images are advised to buy the images’ raw files directly from the photographers. However, images with resolutions as low as 72 dpi appear just fine from the average viewing distance of 5 feet, but the quality may appear wanting to the trained eye.

Color & Transparencies

Color Mode: We only work with CMYK color modes. You can submit all colors in this mode. Colors in any other way will convert into CMYK.

Color Mode

Color Management Geeks: We have established that GRACoL CMYK profile is ideal for the most accurate results.

Rich Black: We recommend using C30 M20 Y20 K100 to achieve that rich yet neutral black color as the ink measurement is just right. Using more ink than this will ruin the final product. Additionally, using specs where the K value is lower than other values will also destroy the final product.

Transparencies: We do not work with transparent (unflattened) artwork. That is because transparency often results in unpredictable shifts in your color profiles. As such, you should note that we flatten all transparent artwork before production. Additionally, we will not be held responsible for any shifting of colors that arises from color space conversion or flattening.

PMS Color Matching: As mentioned earlier, we only work with CMYK inks. To this end, we try our best to match all purchased PMS Color Matches with their CMYK equivalents. However, it is important to note that Photos and Gradients do not have matching colors.


There are two important guidelines to remember when it comes to text:

  • Vector is the best format for high-quality output for texts – pixels ruin the final production.
  • Fonts should either be embedded or converted to outlines.  We will reject any artwork that doesn’t have fonts outlined automatically.



Final artwork should always be left visible unless you don’t want it printed – in this case, the artwork should be put on a layer whose profile is turned off.

File Format

We recommend submitting your files in high-resolution PDF format (use PDF version 1.6 or higher for the best results). However, we also accept (but discourage) TIF and JPG files since text and vectors under these file formats are rasterized. A majority of the other formats (most of which are low-resolution) are rejected.


Artwork Areas

Bleed: This is the outermost edge on the artwork area. The space between it and trim is automatically cut off before output. Any elements that go beyond the trim edge should be extended all the way to the bleed edge so that they can cut out as well.

Trim: This is where the media is trimmed or cut before finishing.

Visible Edge: This is the final visible edge of the end product.

Safety: This is the inner edge of the artwork area. It is considered a safe zone for graphics and critical text. To this end, you should keep relevant images, logos, text, and other elements in this area.  Elements such as stitching, curvature, and stretching impact the space between the Safety and Visible Edge lines and may ruin the final output.

Note: Trim and visible edges are the same in some templates.