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Creating a dieline in Illustrator

From: Print Production Essentials: Embossing, Foil Stamping, and Die Cutting

Video: Creating a dieline in Illustrator

I'm almost finished with the design of this card. But before I send it to the printer I need to do two things. I need to create artwork for the die line that's going to be used to cut this out. And then I'm going to need to add bleed. So first, I'm going to create the die line. You can see how the layers are created. All the artwork's getting almost ready for print. And the pieces that I need to create the die line are actually already in the artwork. It's going to cut out like this, it's going to go around the rectangle and then the little yellow petals are going to pop out.

Creating a dieline in Illustrator

I'm almost finished with the design of this card. But before I send it to the printer I need to do two things. I need to create artwork for the die line that's going to be used to cut this out. And then I'm going to need to add bleed. So first, I'm going to create the die line. You can see how the layers are created. All the artwork's getting almost ready for print. And the pieces that I need to create the die line are actually already in the artwork. It's going to cut out like this, it's going to go around the rectangle and then the little yellow petals are going to pop out.

First thing I'm going to do is create a die line layer. Which of course I'm going to call, die line. And then I'm going to duplicate the rectangle and the little yellow petal shape into that layer and use them as the basis for the die line. So, I select the little rectangle. And I don't want to move it. I want to keep that original, of course. So I hold down Option or Alt, and drag up. And that duplicates that shape. Same thing with the little yellow petals. Option or Alt, drag it up. And you can see that the original shapes are still in position. But now I have the duplicate of them in my die line layer. I'm going to turn off all the other layers so I can just concentrate on this one. Now, because it's going to be a die line, I don't need the shadow. So I'm going to get rid of that, by going to the Appearance panel, and just selecting Drop Shadow.

And hitting the little trash can. What I really need is the perimeter of this shape. That's what's going to constitute the die line. I can combine these two shapes two different ways. I can use Pathfinder, or I can use Shape Builder. The results are the same. It's really just which method you prefer to use. So first, I'll show you Pathfinder, under Window of course. I just select both shapes, and use the Unite option on that first row. Now it's just one shape. I'm going to undo so that I could show you the Shape Builder, which is a really fun tool.

Select both of the shapes again, get my Shape Builder and then you just drag from one shape into the other. In this case it won't matter which one you use as the first shape. There we go, again two different methods, but the same results. But what I need now is a die line color. I need a special color that indicates to the printer this artwork is used for the die line. So in the Swatches panel, I'm going to make a new swatch. Now, the look of this really doesn't matter. It does need to be a spot color and, of course, I think it makes sense to call it die line. And it really wouldn't matter whether I chose RGB or CMYK. This document, of course, is CMYK color mode.

But I tend to use RGB. This is, again, just personal preference, because I like to make a bright green color that's really obvious. And it's clear that it's not part of the art work. But again, the color you choose, I think, should be a contrast to your underlying artwork. And it should be something obvious. Just make sure that it's spot color and make sure that you name it something fairly obvious. I don't need a fill, so I'm going to change the Fill to None, and I'm going to change my Stroke, of course, to my new die line color. Now, back in the layers panel, I turn everything else back on, and there we go.

Now at this point, I don't have bleed. That's something I'm going to show you in another movie. But at least I have my artwork. And I have my die line created. One more thing I'd recommend that you do. Even though the artwork for the die line is going to be output separately. It's not going to be part of the printed piece. Just to be sure, here's a good practice. Go up to Window and Attributes. And now that's one of those panels you don't go to all the time, but one thing you can do here is really valuable. You can set that stroke to overprint and what this means is that if they output this, we know that it doesn't knock out anything that's underneath. It's just a little nicety, it's just good habit and one way to check what you have is to go to Window, go to Separations Preview.

You have to turn on over print preview to activate separations preview. And you make sure that you have any spot colors that you need. Make sure you don't have any that you don't need. And if I turn off CMYK that leaves just my die line. I'll turn off my die line, there's my CMYK. So even though I don't have bleed yet, which means that this is not ready to send to the printer, I've got a really good start so that I can finish up this card and send it off for printing and then ultimately die cutting.

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