Are you an incredibly resourceful individual? Do you think up creative solutions in order to solve complex tasks on a regular basis? Have you ever combined a paper clip with a piece of bubble gum to disarm a bomb?
If you've answered yes to one or more of those questions, then this blog post will have nothing to offer your powerful mind.
If you answered no to all 3, then you're like me.
I prefer eat a bag of potato chips in front of the TV instead of cooking dinner, I cover up the front of my VCR with a piece of electrical tape because I don't know how to get it to stop from blinking "12:00 AM", and I nod "Yes" at the Drive-Thru speaker instead of saying so when the person on the other end asks me if I'd "like fries with that".
What does all this embarrassing information have to do with printing banners? Well, after years of unfulfillment working various soul-sucking jobs, I now have an incredibly rewarding career setting-up/inspecting artwork for Banner4sale clients! Very easily and without incident I might add... and I'm a mook!
90% of the time the reason an order will get delayed is because of issues with the original artwork/layout. Whether the resolution is too small or the layout isn't proportionate to the desired banner size, it always involves going back and forth with the client trying to hammer out all the bumps before we put ink on vinyl. Also the cost of a banner can increase if no artwork is present since it has to be created from scratch, or if it has to be modified heavily.
That's why I'm here to show you how to set up your own custom vinyl banner! "But I don't have any idea how to set up a banner!" you might say. Well neither did I when I started working at Banner4sale but after countless hours of hard work and determination, I've learned how to streamline the process into five easy to follow steps.
This means I can pass down the following information for you to learn how to set up banners like a pro, excluding all the screw-ups I incurred along the way.
STEP 1: TEMPLATES
When visiting Banner4sale.com, click on "Banner Printing" located at the top left side of the webpage, this will navigate you to our banner selection.
Select any one of our fixed sizes which best fit your printing needs. If you are planning to set-up artwork for a custom sized banner, you can continue to follow along since the information I will cover still applies.
We offer Illustrator, Photoshop, and PDF file formats of each template to best suit your software compatibility.
All of the templates are saved in a CMYK color format. This is the preferred color format for printing, and will better help represent the appearance of color once your banner is printed. The Photoshop templates are saved to our minimum printing dpi, 75.
Once you have downloaded the banner template of your choosing, we're now ready to begin setting up our art. For this exercise I will be using our most common size, 10 x 5, while setting up our artwork in Illustrator.
(SIDE NOTE: When discussing banner sizing, it's always WIDTH x HEIGHT)
STEP 2: TEMPLATE REVIEW.
Once we open our template, regardless of whether you opened it in Illustrator or Photoshop, it should look like this.
All of the templates are sized to the exact dimensions of the respective banner.
The file should contain the following 4 layers:
LAYER 1- INFO LAYER:
This layer contains some B4S graphics as well as a few easy to follow reminders/directions when setting up your art file.
LAYER 2- BANNER EDGE:
This layer contains a single blue line that indicates the very edge of the banner. Whether your banner is going to have a trimmed edge or a hemmed edge, your artwork will ALWAYS end at the blue line. This means if you have a specific background color (other than white) or an image/design you would like to fill up the entire background of your banner, make sure it fills up all the empty space INSIDE this blue line.
NO BLEED IS NECESSARY. We print on white vinyl, when your banner is printed we leave an extra inch of material for us to fold behind the banner to create the hem. Since the back of your banner is white, when the hem folds over it will make sure the back of your banner is all the same color. The same rule applies if you've selected your banner to have a trimmed edge, since we cut right to the end of the artwork, no bleed is required. Pole pockets are left white, so once again, you will not need to account for bleed, just make sure your background image is big enough for the size of your banner.
CUSTOM BANNER TIP 1: As I mentioned earlier on, if you are creating artwork for a custom sized banner, your "Banner Edge" will be the actual size of your banner.
LAYER 3 - LIVE PRINT AREA:
This layer contains a red dotted line that is 1" shorter on all 4 sides than the banner edge. Text, Logos, or any other element that is NOT the background of the banner should be contained inside of this red dotted line. This helps make sure none of your design elements look like they're pushed up right to the edge of the banner, or get cut off in anyway. If your design looks good with a piece of art/lettering going past this line and stopping at the banner's edge, go for it! Just keep in mind anything that goes outside of the live print area will risk getting covered with a grommet or might not be as legible as it would be INSIDE the red dotted line.
CUSTOM BANNER TIP 2: To determine the live print area of your custom banner, just subtract 2 inches from the Width and Height of your banner, since the live print area is one inch smaller all the way around than our bannner edge
LAYER 4 - GROMMET MARKS:
This layer contains green circles spaced out 24" apart from each other on all 4 sides of the banner. This indicates where grommets will be punched into your banner, helping you avoid place any text over one of these areas.
CUSTOM BANNER TIP 3: If you contain everything except the background inside the live print area, you're safe from having a grommet going through any key information.
STEP 3 - SETTING UP YOUR ARTWORK PART 1: BANNER EDGE
These next 3 steps are going to be a little subjective since no 2 banner's are the same. (Unless you get one reprinted :P)
I decided that the content for my banner will highlight the top 6 reason's why people should print with Banner4sale.com. Let's start with viewing the artwork I'll be using....
As you can see, I have a repeating Banner4Sale pattern to use for my background, a Banner4Sale logo, artwork/text for my Top Six title graphic, 6 icons highlighting my 6 reasons, a word document containing the information I'd like to highlight in my banner, and some contact/web info graphics.
Start with deleting the INFO LAYER since we're now familiar with this information. Create a new layer and drop in your background image. For an example, I'm going to drop in my repeating pattern in, as you can see my banner is a rectangle, but my pattern is a square. :(
Now I'm going to enlarge my square pattern so that it's large enough to fill all the space inside the blue line/banner edge. I could just stretch it out to fit but given the difference in shape between my background and the blue line, my artwork would get skewed. Instead I'm going to enlarge the pattern all together so that it scales evenly, even though there's going to be extra on the top and bottom of the template.
As you can see, the pattern fills the entirety of the blue box. You can either scale your background image or stretch it to fit based on your preference. I chose to scale the art proportionately since it contains text so it wouldn't be difficult to read if desired. If you're using a solid color for the background this shouldn't be an issue, you can size it to the actual banner size since there's no threat of skewing any image/text.
Next, using whatever method you find most simple, trim the excess of the background image (if any) so that the artwork fills the banner edge (blue box) without going outside of those dimensions.
I used a clipping mask to remove the excess pattern that spilled outside of the banner edge (blue box). I also decided to lighten the background pattern knowing I was going to place images/text on top of my background image, this helps create depth in your banner. If you're going to adjust the opacity of your background image, make sure it's light enough to see/read while being soft enough so that it wont interfere with whatever you plan to place on top of it.
Now that we have the background artwork adjusted correctly, we can delete our banner edge layer (or just the blue line if you placed your background on the same layer).
STEP 4 - SETTING UP YOUR ARTWORK PART 2: LIVE PRINT AREA
Time to move onto the information/artwork we want to put on our banner since the background has been squared away. Create a new layer and drop in whatever artwork or text you want to be in your banner.
I'm going to start by dropping in the Banner4Sale logo/contact information.
Just the elements by themselves look a little "Meh" so I decided to play with the art a little until I came up with this...
As you can see some of my art is inside the Live Print Area (Red Dotted Line) and some is not.
I kept the major text areas of my design elements inside of the red dotted line when laying out these pieces of art. I felt that if I kept my colors bars inside the Live Print Area, the design would look a little goofy with 1" of empty space on both sides, so i extended it out to the banner edge knowing the part of my art that would extend past the Live Print Area would still look cool even if it had a grommet/seam going through it.
A good example of this is if you look at the bottom corners of my example, the email address and the web url on the left and right corners are right on the edge of Live Print Area (Red Dotted Line), while the color bars they sit on extend to the banner edge. This means that even if we put a hem or grommets on this banner, that text will be legible, wont have any seams or grommets going over it, or wont be too close to the edge of the banner to get cut off.
Now it's time to drop in my "Top Six" graphic as well as my six icons.
As you can see just dumping art into a banner is no way to go about designing it. As I arrange my icons/graphic I know I'm going to have to include the text I want to use from my word document, so I design my bannner accordingly so I have space for my text. When completed, this is the end result.
Got my info graphic, my icons, and I copied+pasted my text into the banner art and stylized it a bit. As you can see, the text and my "Top Six" graphic are both to the edge of the live print area to ensure it will be read clearly. Now that all of our text/logos/art fit neatly into the live print area. It's time to check our grommet marks.
STEP 5 - SETTING UP YOUR ARTWORK PART 3: GROMMET MARKS
When we finally reach this point, this part is more of a review/way to double check your art. Turning on our grommet mark layer lets us know if anything in the banner will get covered up when the Banner4Sale production team punches the grommets into the banner.
We can see that even though the top and bottom color bars extend past the live print area, the will not be effected by the grommets in anyway.
Once we know every design element in our banner lands where it's supposed to be, we can go ahead and delete the layer containing the red dotted line indicating the Live Print Area, as well as the layer containing the green circles indicating grommet placement. (Or just delete the red dotted line/green circles if your artwork is on the same layer.)
Now that these steps are completed, lets go ahead and have a look at the completed banner.
Wow a beaut! I want to pay myself for doing such a good job designing this banner! :P
-We adjusted our background image to fit correctly on the banner, making sure it filled up the interior of our Banner Edge, represented by the blue box, without distorting it as we increased it's size.
-We took our design elements, and arranged them in a way so that the key artwork/pieces of information were located safely inside the Live Print Area represented by the red dotted line.
-We double checked our design to make sure the placement of grommets would not effect the layout of our banner.
If you've followed these 5 steps, Your banner is complete and ready to print!!
If you're working in photoshop, view your artwork at 100%. This will give you a general idea of how the graphics on your banner will look once printed.
Time to give yourself a pat on the back pal! Now you can now design your OWN banner with confidence, instead of getting your creepy uncle who agreed to design your banner if you let him come over on the weekend to watch his VHS copy of Hook together while you rub his feet.
Rest assured that every file we receive from our clients don't get printed blindly just because you used one of our templates. We inspect artwork for each order very carefully to make sure it ill print without issue. That means if your artwork needs a minor adjustment or if there's an issue with printing, we'll let you know asap. These templates and tutorial are for you, the client. We want to make sure your dealings with Banner4Sale.com run smoothly when you come to us with artwork for your banner.