• What is a print-ready file?

    The anticipation of your new project heading off to print can be exciting. But the satisfaction of getting the new flyer or letterhead off your to-do list is short-lived if you get a message back from the printer, requesting changes to your file.

    We get it. Whether it’s having a creative employee or family member who can design something suitable for your project, or if you  are trying to work with a limited budget – you can’t always have us set up your files. So if you’re trying to DIY, we’ve put together this guide for you to navigate how to set up your print file for success.

    So, what is a print-ready file?!

    When Positive Signs + Print asks you for a print-ready file, what we are looking for is:

    1. A high resolution PDF documentWhy PDF? With so many different design programs out there, the PDF format is our first and only choice for the best format to supply your format in. No matter what program you’ve used, typically any PDF will remain editable so we can make any adjustments at our end if necessary. Ever opened up someone’s Word Doc and the formatting is all weird? Yeah, that happens a lot for us.Why High Resolution? The higher the resolution, the better the detail. Bigger is always better! We want the end result to be as good as possible for you.
    2. The document should have 2mm bleed on all edgesWhy? During the printing process, paper movement can occur, therefore it is important that your file contains bleed. 2mm is usually what we need but if you supply a file with more, that’s absolutely fine. More information on what bleed is can be found here.
    3. All fonts outlined (preferably)

      Why? Also known as “converting to paths”, outlining the fonts in your files will ensure that there are no conflicts with fonts installed on our computers. If you can’t figure out how to do this, that’s ok – just leave it. But do be sure to triple check your printed proof carefully, in case any gremlins appear!
    4. All colours as CMYK Why: CMYK is the colour process used for digital printing. Most images taken by digital cameras are RGB, which is a colour process for digital display. If RGB colours are used, they are automatically converted to CMYK by our printing software. However there may be a shift in colour as RGB colors do not convert precisely to CMYK, so we always recommend converting your images to CMYK so that you don’t have any surprises.

    Download your Canva Files to be Print-Ready

    A lot of clients come to us with Canva files. These can be suitable, as long as you download your files with the right settings.

    When you start your design, turn on the print bleed setting. This will allow you to “bleed” items off your page (here’s why bleed is so important).

    How to Set up Your Canva Document For Printing

    1. Click on “File” in the top left corner of your screen.
    2. We recommend you select “Show Margins” and “Show print bleed.”
    3. Extend the images and coloured panels to fall outside of the bleed line to ensure your document does not have a white stripe along the side of your page. To help illustrate these different lines – the red line is the outside of the bleed. Sitting between the red and blue line is a bit of breathing space for when your file is trimmed to size. The blue line is the “trim line”, the final size of your file. The green line is the margin. Between the green and blue line, avoid having any text or important details – they should be within the green box.

    A note on converting text to paths (aka outlining your fonts)

    We mention above that all text needs to be converted to outlines–otherwise, they are at risk of changing to a different font, or not appearing at all when we open the file. Unfortunately this is not a function available in Canva.

    However, Canva mostly uses Google Fonts.  Note each font used in your design and let us know what they are when you place your order. If there are any issues, we can download the font file from Google Fonts and try to resolve any issues that way.

    Download Settings for your Canva Document to be print-ready

    1. At the top right of your design, click the Download/arrow pointing downwards button
    2. Make sure that “PDF Print” is the selected File Type, and check off “Crop marks and bleed” and “Save download settings” (makes it faster for you to do this at a later date)
    3. Click “Download”

    The file that downloads is the print-ready file that you should provide.

  • Raster or Vector Images: Which Should You Use?

    You’re getting graphics designed or have been asked to produce files ready for printing. Which file format should you choose: raster or vector?  As Dunedin printers and signwriters, we’re here to share our wisdom on the differences between raster and vector files, to help you decide.

    Choosing Between Raster or Vector Image Files

    There are two types of graphic image files: vector and raster. Let’s look at the key differences between each of them.

    Vector images:

    • made with many different little lines and curves, joined together to create a picture
    • designed using many mathematical calculations or paths
    • always looks smooth when enlarged
    • best suited to graphics that are created, such as logos, letterheads and fonts
    • flexible and easy to resize
    • have smaller file sizes
    • common formats include AI, EPS, SVG and PDF
    • can be edited in software such as Illustrator, CorelDraw and InkScape
    • must be rasterized before using on the web, except for SVGs

    Raster images:

    • made with pixels, not lines
    • each pixel has its own colour
    • best suited for scanned artwork, detailed graphics or digitised photographs
    • when enlarged, they look jagged and rough, as the individual pixels become visible
    • not easily editable or resized
    • have large file sizes
    • available in common formats of TIFF, GIF, PCX, BMP and JPEG
    • slower to display and print
    • are also known as bitmaps
    • are edited in software such as Photoshop and GIMP
    • the higher the number of pixels per inch, the better quality of the image

    When choosing between raster or vector files, the ultimate decision rests with the graphic itself. If it is a digital photo, then raster is what is is. But for a created graphic – such as a logo or font – then a vector file is what you ultimately need.

    Will Your Print Job Need a Raster or Vector Image?

    In order to do your print job, we’re going to need the image files from you. The file type we need will depend on the job you are having printed and the finish you require. We are able to convert vector images into raster images – but not the other way around – so if in doubt, just get in touch and ask.

    Will Your Sign Job Need a Raster or Vector Image?

    Most likely, yes, we will need a vector image for a sign job. That’s because signs are usually big – and vector images will give you a better quality result at size. If you don’t have a vector image (i.e. you’ve typed something up in Microsoft Word and want that on a sign) that’s okay, we can create a file that’ll work for what you need. Flick us an email with your requirements or call in and we can discuss what you need.

  • Off the Rails Honey – Branding and Packaging Design Case Study

    A lot of clients know that we do signage, and digital printing, but don’t realise the extent of everything we offer. So today I thought I’d write a case study on the branding and packaging design we have done for one of our clients: Off the Rails Honey.

    Based just off the Central Otago Rail Trail and with hives throughout the area, Quentin came to us looking for a logo design that incorporated a bee on a bike and the Hyde Rail Tunnel.


    To keep ordering straight forward for him, we’ve set up his labels onto A4 sheets, aka as our Packaging Stickers. Each label on those sheets are produced to the size required for the jar they are going on – so some sheets have more labels, some have less. Just depends on the final size required – we’ve got the ability to change it up to suit.

    From this initial design, we produced packaging labels to suit the different sized jars and products Off the Rails produced. Quentin has done some testing to see what jars and labels are most popular, so printing short runs of packaging labels initially has worked well for this.

    As his honey production ramps up, Quentin has added more varieties to his range, and has had success with his gift boxes:

    The end goal with any of our design is to produce something that’s consistent with the client’s brand – so they can be recognised individually or work well together.

    As well as branding his actual product, we’ve signwritten Quentin’s truck and done a run of pens to get his brand out there in a consistent way.


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    A post shared by Positive Signs (@positivesignsnz)


    We’ve been lucky enough to get a first hand tour around the hives and the honey collection process:

    If you produce honey, or other food items, get in contact and see how we can help!

  • What Are the Standard Paper Sizes for Printing?

    Getting some printing done and wondering about what paper sizes you’ll need? Most of us are familiar with A4 paper, it being the standard printer paper in New Zealand. However, as a printing company, we use many other paper sizes on a daily basis too. To help you choose the right paper sizes for your printing job, we’ve put together this handy and informative guide.

    Guide to Paper Sizes for Printing

    A4 paper is a part of the A series of paper sizes, which is commonly used throughout NZ and by our Mosgiel printing company. Defined by the ISO 216 standard, the A-series paper size consists of 13 specific paper sizes:

    • 4A0 – 1682 x 2378 mm*
    • 2A0 – 1189 x 1682 mm*
    • A0 – 841 x 1189 mm*
    • A1 – 594 x 841 mm
    • A2 – 420 x 594 mm
    • A3 – 297 x 420 mm
    • A4 – 210 x 297 mm
    • A5 – 148 x 210 mm
    • A6 – 105 x 148 mm
    • A7 – 74 x 105 mm
    • A8 – 52 x 74 mm
    • A9 – 37 x 52 mm
    • A10 – 26 x 37 mm

    The A paper size standard ISO 216 has some specific requirements or tolerances when it comes to its sizes, but a general guide is that for each size below A0, the one below is half the size of the one above. For example, A5 is half the size of A4.

    To clear up confusion, when we talk about paper sizes, we are also referring to card. That means you can have any of the A series printed as long as card in your required size can be sourced* (and we’ll try our hardest to do so).

    Of special note is that we can print card on our digital press to size SRA3. SRA, which stands for Supplementary Raw Format A, is untrimmed raw paper is used for commercial printing. As it is slightly larger than the A series format, it allows the ink to bleed to the edge of the paper, before being cut to match the A format. We talk about bleed in the article What is Bleed if you’d like to know more about ink bleed and how it affects the files you send us.

    How big can Positive Signs print?

    We have a brand new Xerox C9070 Production Printer which can print up to 330x660mm and a wide format Mimaki Solvent printer which prints up to 1600mm in width – to whatever length required. The printer we use and the material/stock selected will depend on the specific requirements of your job, so you’re best to discuss with us what you would like.

    What happens if I want to print something that is a different size?

    You might notice that our list above doesn’t have one of the most common pieces of card that grace the desk of millions of workers… business cards. Or what about the rack cards that people commonly use for marketing? Greeting cards? Comp slips? No stress guys, we’ve got you covered. We ‘gang up’ as many smaller pieces onto your selected SRA3 card as possible, print them, then trim them to the size you require – so we can literally print any size you may require.

    For more assistance with identifying the correct paper sizes for your printing job, get in touch with us!

  • COVID-19 Lockdown Update

    As you are no doubt aware, the NZ Govt has ordered a lockdown of all non-essential businesses.

    We are unable to print or dispatch items until the lockdown lifts. The Positive Signs + Print team are working remotely from their homes, and are checking emails regularly. So any orders placed that require design work will still progress, up until the printing stage.

    This is an unprecedented time filled with uncertainty for everyone. Please continue to support small businesses, be patient with each other, and look after yourself.

    Amanda + Ruth

  • Covid-19 Preparations and Planning

    I am sure you are also feeling increasing anxiety watching the news and hearing about how Covid-19 is affecting our country and the wider world. We have spent the last couple of days putting plans in place to prepare and minimise disruption as much as possible.
    Covid-19 Signage
    We have had a flurry of clients after Covid-19 signage, so we’ve put together an A4 notice that you are able to print yourself and pop at your premise’s front door. Download it here, free of charge. I hope this helps with your own Covid-19 preparations! We are, of course, happy to help with printing/laminating copies of this notice – just let me know (A4 are $3+gst each, A3 are $5+gst each, reducing if you need multiple copies).
    In person visits to Positive Signs + Prints
    If you or any of your close contacts have any symptoms (listed on the official website), please refrain from visiting. We are happy to help you via phone (03 489 3925) or email (print@positivesigns.co.nz)
    Collecting printing & signs
    To minimise contact, we have shifted our collection point for pick ups to our front reception desk (at the top of the stairs). Just inside the bottom door is hand sanitizer – please use this when entering for extra protection.
    Working offsite
    In the coming days we will each be taking turns trialling working offsite, so if/when quarantines are put in place, we can continue (some) business as usual. The best way to get in touch with us will be via email or phone.
    Please take care of yourself, and each other.
  • What is Bleed & Why Does It Matter?

    In the printing world, understanding what is bleed is crucial. Yes, it’s yet another weird piece of vocabulary to go alongside other printing terms like jogging, vectors, jpeg and CMYK. But as it is something crucial which will affect the outcome of your printing job, we’re making our job to explain it to you.

    What is Bleed?

    Bleed, print bleed or bleed printing is all about the ink that goes to the edge of the paper during printing. During the printing process, paper movement and design inconsistencies can occur. This means having a bleed is essential to avoid your print job being misshapen or cut off.

    Let’s look at what is bleed another way:

    You’re having business cards printed. Your graphic designer has created a print file for you and you’ve been asked to check if there is a bleed included. This is important because your business cards are printed as a large sheet and then trimmed down to size.

    A bleed is usually around two to five mm from where you want the cut to be made (outside of the design). It’s best to confirm what bleed we’ll require, as different jobs need different bleeds.

    Because the file includes a bleed, the margin makes your print job slightly bigger when printing, but after trimming this will be sorted.

    If you had an image or colour that you wanted to go to the edge of each card, and you didn’t have a bleed, you could end up with a small white edge. If you had a bleed, you wouldn’t get this, as, during the printing, the colour would have gone outside of the actual design. This means when trimmed, there would be no white line.

    Understanding More About What is Bleed & Why It’s Important

    The amount of bleed required will depend on the printing method used, the size of the paper and how the image is sent to the printer. Don’t stress about this though, as we can tell you exactly what you will need!

    In conclusion, bleed is when the colours and images of your artwork continue beyond the edge of the actual design, or the actual size you want your print job to be. During the trimming process, your document will not have any white lines around the edges because there was still colour where the print job cut lines are.

    If you need any further help understanding about bleed, or how to add it to your image, please feel free to contact our team today.

  • How to apply vinyl decals

    Your vinyl decal/sticker will look its best if it’s put on correctly. As well as saving the pain of bubbles, you’ll ensure that your sticker, well, sticks!

    We’ve recorded a quick video walking you through the steps here:

    STEP 1

    Clean the area thoroughly. We use diluted IPA – isopropyl alcohol. You can use soap and water, just let the area dry thoroughly. Do not use a glass cleaner because it leaves a residue behind.

    STEP 2

    Line up where you want your decal to go, using masking tape to secure the decal into position. Once it is in position, move all the tape to one side of the decal, so you’ve got a free edge. This is the side you will be putting down first.

    STEP 3

    On the loose side of your decal, peel the transfer tape (with decal attached) away from the backing paper. Cut the backing paper through the centre.

    Rub a squeegee (or bank card card!) firmly across the sticker through the clear transfer tape to prepare it for application. This ensures the sticker will cling to the transfer tape and removes any air bubbles that may have formed.

    STEP 4

    Slowly lower the decal onto the surface and rub from the centre outwards firmly with a squeegee or credit card.

    Remove the tape from the remaining loose side, and repeat.

    STEP 5

    Slowly peel the clear transfer tape off at an angle.

  • Understanding the Window Signwriting Process

    Window signwriting is a must-have form of branding for most businesses. Displayed on shop fronts, interior windows or dividers and on vehicles. Here at Positive Signs, window signwriting is one of the specialist services we provide to businesses in and around the Mosgiel area. Today we’re happy to share with you our window signwriting process.

    What is Window Signwriting?

    Signwriting on shop, office or vehicle windows is a highly effective form of advertising. Used as an eyecatching display to draw shoppers in, a privacy screen, stating open hours and helping customers find your premises easily. Big or small, single colour or photo graphics, sign-written windows can completely cover a window or simply consist of your logo. It’s up to you.

    At Positive Signs, we offer several different signwriting options for our clients:

    1. Solid digitally printed vinyl: Permanent full-colour photo-quality graphics on solid vinyl – the most popular choice for window graphics.
    2. Cut coloured vinyl graphics: Durable & economical, perfect for text, simple logos and designs, and opening hours.
    3. Window Frosting: We can print images or your logo onto the frosting or cut your logo out of the solid see-through, creating hollow seethrough sections. These can be used as a screen to create privacy or reduce direct sunlight
    4. Clear Digital Prints: Using a clear vinyl that creates a transparent subtle form of advertising, leaving the opportunity for your clientele to see through.
    5. One way vision: This is a perforated film that we print onto which allows you to see clearly through the back of this film. This allows you to advertise your business on glass, while still being able to see out of your window.
    6. All of the above! Some incredible designs can be produced with a mix of different materials.

    We’re always happy to chat about what we do and help you to make the right choice for your business. Get in touch with us today.

    Positive Sign’s Window Signwriting Process

    When our signwriting services are requested by a client, there’s a lot our team needs to do…

    • Site visit and discussion – we’ll come to your site and take photos of the area you want sign-written. We talk about what you want to achieve, offering suggestions if required. Measurements are taken of the area and we leave your site 100% clear of what your requirements are.
    • Design process – back in the office, we bring your sign to life, using all of the information we’ve learnt about you and your business. We create a digital proof of what your sign will look like and send it, along with a quote, to you for your consideration. You can ask for us to make changes, and once the quote is accepted, it’s time for us to begin manufacturing your signage.
    • Signage manufacturing and installation – we now create your business’ signage inhouse. Once ready, we arrange with you a time for us to install it on site. We’ll let you know how to care for it, including cleaning if required.

    If you’re thinking about having window signwriting installed at your place of business, let’s chat. Get in touch with us today to discuss exactly how we can help your business get noticed.