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Collate Inputs and Create Artworks

October 20, 2017

Ever wonder where the building blocks of an artwork come from and how a brief is put together so that little time is wasted in creating an error-free artwork? Read on to find out along with this example:


A company launches 3 flavors of juice (Grapefruit, Cranberry and Orange) to be sold in 2 bottle sizes (4 fl oz and 8 fl oz). Each SKU has 3 artwork components (front label, back label and cap). So the launch consists of 6 SKUs and 18 artwork components.

In our previous blog, we discussed about the rationale behind an artwork request.

Right first time is the guiding principle in any artwork creation for which right inputs from the right department in the right format are an absolute must. It is equally important to determine who holds the threads and who approves inputs so that the workflows can be defined and executed seamlessly. What happens after an artwork request is initiated?

Collate Artwork Inputs

The Dieline, Images, Logos, Brand Guidelines, Copy text and other information required by the designer to put the artwork together are collated at this stage in the workflow. This information can be shared as an Artwork Brief document in Word or Excel format. The Dieline is usually shared as an image, PDF or as a drawing (DWG or DXF). Depending on the industry, other departments may also be involved in sharing this brief input. In the case of Private Label, a supplier may also be involved in sharing this information.

Collating this information requires the help of different departments and either a project manager receives all the information and updates it or the workflow is routed to each department to get the inputs. Once the inputs are available, it has to be approved to make sure the data given to the designer is correct. Iterations during the input collection stage is normal and this is time well spent as its important to catch issues at this early stage.

While some organizations use a standard template to capture this information, others have invested in separate database systems which manage all the text, its versions and its approvals.

Taking the above example, briefs can be shared at multiple levels

  • Project Brief: This would be information that is common across all SKU and components. It will also include reference files which are to be used for all the SKUs
  • SKU Brief: This is information that is common between all the components within an SKU.
  • Component Brief: This is information specific to the component

Besides the collated information any kind of supporting files that can help the designer do the job better, can also be attached to the workflow.

Create the Artwork
Here are a few battle-tested guidelines that can minimize time and reduce errors for the creators.

The Artwork is created using Adobe Illustrator (AI) or equivalent. The AI file once saved as a ‘PDF compatible’ version can be opened in a normal PDF viewer like Adobe Acrobat Viewer. There are a few do’s and don’ts to know while creating and exporting a PDF artwork.

  1. Do not ‘Curve’ the PDF file, i.e. flatten it to have no real text but replace the text with curves. This is also called ‘Convert text to Outlines’. Text Analysis and Proofing tools cannot report on the text if its curved.
  2. Embed all the fonts inside the PDF file to ensure that the PDF file displays the text correctly on any computer.
  3. Make sure images are at least 200 DPI in resolution.
  4. Check the minimum font size used and the minimum line thickness used.
  5. Ensure that the number of colors are used in accordance with the printing methodology

Depending on the type of workflow initiated, the designer uploads one or more artworks and the workflow moves on to the ‘Artwork Approval’ stage.

Do you need a system to manage this process?

Having an artwork management system in place will certainly aid the artwork creation process. With an artwork management system, one can expect all the project related assets to be in one place. You will be able to plan your artwork creation timelines based on your launch dates. This helps increase efficiency and builds transparency into the process.

An artwork designer needs intelligence on technical details, dimensional data, reference files, special instructions along with other inputs to be able to plan and organize his work better. Without an artwork management system, inputs come in at various times and stages of the artwork creation process and this often acts as a deterrent from achieving ‘right first time’.

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