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FAQ on Artwork Approval Process

November 3, 2017

In our previous blogs, we have discussed the artwork approval process in detail.

Reputed brands are often quite relentless in exploring areas for improvement. Here is a compilation of our responses to questions posed by brands on artwork design, review, approval and workflows.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What if I have a small text correction and my artwork has to be modified and released. Do I have to go through this long process again?

A: Usually for text corrections and change requests, the process is shorter and certain steps can be skipped. A sample change request workflow is shown below. Once the artwork is approved, its released to the printer for printing.


Q: Let’s assume 2 of out 5 approvers reject the artwork. After the designer reworks and uploads the modified version, should it again be approved by all 5 departments or just the 2 who rejected the first time?

A: In the Pharma industry, its general practice to send every version of the artwork to all approvers irrespective of whether they approved or rejected the last time. In the CPG industry, some companies want the workflow to go just to the departments who rejected the artwork the first time. In this case, the approved departments don’t get to see the new version of the artwork and if the designer messed up something that relates to them, they would never know.

Q: Is there a standard set of workflows that Pharma companies should implement?

A: There is no standard set of workflows, but based on our experience here is a set of workflows that cover the entire lifecycle of an artwork:

  1. Regulatory registration mock artwork approval process
  2. New Artwork Approval process
  3. Change requests process
  4. Dieline approval process
  5. Specification approval process
  6. Vendor Proof approval process
  7. Print Shade Card approval process
  8. Print Destruction process
  9. Harmonization process

Q: Is there a need for the Artwork System to integrate with SAP or any ERP system as part of the process?

A: Yes. Here are some of the reasons why an artwork system needs to integrate with SAP:

  1. Share Product and SKU master data and Item codes
  2. Create or update BOM information after approval
  3. Push approved artwork file to SAP in order to trigger the release of vendor Purchase Order
  4. Check stock information on superseded artworks to delay printing of new artworks. This will ensure that the existing inventory is spent.

Q: Are there any tools that can be used during the approval process to speed up the process?

A: Yes Of course. Below is a list of tools that can be used during an approval process to do things faster with less errors.

Artwork approval, if done manually can be very time consuming because the right tools are not available to the approver in order to check the artwork. This is the reason why many approvers keep putting off the task of reviewing artworks to a later time which leads to delays. However, with an artwork management system in place, the approver can make use of collaboration and proofing tools in accurately reviewing the artwork and providing contextual comments.

Approvers have the following tools at hand:

  1. Checklist

The checklist acts as a ready reckoner and guides the reviewer on what to check in the artwork.

The checklist used in ManageArtworks is a ‘smart checklist’, based on configurable attributes like department, type of component, market, etc.

  1. The checklist used by the regulatory department and packaging department would be different for the same artwork.
  2. Users from the regulatory team will see different checklists for cartons and labels.
  3. The checklist may vary depending on where the product is being sold. For example, a product sold in the United States will have a different checklist when compared to a product sold in Mexico. 

Each checklist item will have an option to mark status (Yes/No/Not Applicable). The system will have the provision to add a comment if need be. In a scenario where another user has to review the artwork in parallel, one reviewer can see the checklist status of the other, but cannot edit or delete it. The checklist can determine how the workflow should be routed. The workflow can be configured to automatically reject the artwork if any of the checklist items is marked with a ‘No’ status. Checklist items can be added, removed and changed at any time.

  1. Color Analysis

 A color separated (CMYK + Pantone colors) view is shown. The user will have the ability to view the colors and determine if the right colors are used in the right areas.

  1. Text Analysis 

A text analysis tool identifies all the fonts used in the artwork and displays the font name, font size and x-height of the font. This can be used by the reviewer to validate the font size requirements of certain text as per the regulatory requirements.

  1. Barcode Analysis

 The system identifies all 1D and 2D barcodes in the artwork including EAN, UPC, Pharma codes and QR codes. If multiple barcodes are placed on the artwork, each of them are individually identified and analyzed. Based on the analysis, the Scan Grade of the barcode is determined.

  1. Layers and Bounding boxes 

Each layer of the artwork is separated and can be seen individually. The media box, trim box, crop box and bleed box are identified on the artwork.

  1. Text Comparison tool

With the Text Comparison tool, the system automatically compares the text between the Brief file (word/excel) and the artwork (PDF) and reports if there are any deviations. Any changes in the text, font name, font size, font attributes (Bold and Italics) is automatically reported. It uses Unicode to compare and hence supports comparison of any language. It does not do translation, but checks the difference in text between the copy text and the artwork PDF. The same tool can be used to compare the text between two PDFs. Irrespective of how the text is oriented on the two files, the system automatically extracts and compares them. This tool is really helpful when you are looking to compare text across different components of the same product. For example, the text that goes on the carton and label for the same product is very similar. By using this tool, the user can quickly confirm that there are no differences. A report is also generated with the deviations listed and highlighted on the artwork.

  1. Image Comparison tool 

Two artwork files can be compared pixel-to-pixel to see if there are any differences. This can be used to compare different versions of the same artwork or to compare artworks across SKUs. Comparisons of the design artwork and vendor proofs can be done with this tool. The tool automatically aligns and compares the artworks even if one of the artworks is rotated, shifted and scaled. The differences can be seen online or taken as a report.

  1. Annotation tools

During the review process, if you like to add some comments or remarks or highlight a problem, annotation tools are available. These tools allow sticky notes, highlights to text, freehand drawing and measurements to be done on the PDF. In a parallel review scenario, one user can see the comments made by another user and reply to it.

In a series of posts, we tried to shed some light on the various facets of artwork management, from artwork request through creation, concluding with artwork and vendor proof approvals and a list of FAQs. Wouldn’t it be nice to have all these in a single place which can serve you as a ready reckoner?


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