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By Lauren Harmon | Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Deke's Techniques: Precisely aligning artwork to the bleed

A proper “bleed” ensures the ink extends to the very outside edges of a printed page, leaving no margin or whitespace around your artwork. And though there’s no way to set it up automatically, in this week’s Deke’s Techniques, Deke McClelland shows you how to precisely align your artwork to the bleed in Adobe Illustrator.

Figure 1

  1. First you’ll need to establish a bleed for your document. Click the Document Setup button in the Control panel. Note the Bleed settings are linked by default. Enter your desired bleed in the first field (.25 inches or 18 points in Deke’s case) and press Tab to change all the values. Click OK to create the bleed.

Figure 2

  1. Now here’s one method of creating a background that matches the bleed. First switch to the back layer and choose View > Smart Guides to turn on those guidelines. Then choose the Rectangle tool. Click and hold over the upper left-hand corner of the bleed until the word Intersect appears and then drag a rectangle to the lower right-hand corner until Intersect appears again. Release your mouse to create the background fill.

But despite the Illustrator help here, the rectangle will not be exactly the right size. It may just be one or two pixels off, but why not do it the right way? Here’s how.

Figure 3

  1. Turn off your Smart Guides and delete the rectangle. Now choose the Artboard tool and jot down the Width and Height dimensions of your artboard that appear in the Control panel. Return to the Rectangle tool, click anywhere inside the artwork, and dial those Width and Height values into the Rectangle popup menu that appears. Click OK to create a new rectangle that exactly matches the dimensions of your artwork.
  2. Go to the Control panel and click Horizontal Align Left and Vertical Align Top from the Align options. This aligns the rectangle to your artboard. Next you’ll align it to the bleed.

  3. Click the word Transform in the Control panel. Change the Width and Height values to twice the bleed amount (36 points in Deke’s case).

  4. Lastly, if there are some objects that fall outside the bleed, marquee them with the Direct Selection tool and use the Align options in the Control panel to align them. You can also double-click with the Direct Selection tool to open the Move dialog and change the Vertical value to move anchor points up or down.

Figure 4

And that’s the right way to create a bleed and align your artwork within it in Illustrator. If you’re a member of the lynda.com library, watch the follow-up movie to learn how to import a pixel-based tracing template into Illustrator—at the right resolution. This allows you to trace your artwork at whatever zoom ratio you desire and still get super smooth results.

If you’re waiting for next week’s free video, tune in to watch Deke draw a distinctive 2D video game character in Illustrator. Keep watching for more Deke’s Techniques each and every week!

Interested in more?

• Start your 7-day free trial to lynda.com today • The entire Deke’s Techniques collection

Adobe, Illustrator, and Photoshop are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated.

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