What is Bleed

Bleeds in Artwork

At Bluewave Printing, we utilize the absolute latest software and machinery in the industry to deliver you top of the line products. Even so, there are things that you can do as a customer to help us deliver the best possible result on your project!

One of the most-often encountered and tricky aspects of professional printing is the concept of ‘Bleed’. To summarize the concept; when we ask customers to provide a bleed on their files, we are asking them to provide us with content that is larger than the actual final finishing size of their product. That way, when we cut our boards and vinyl down, there are no ugly white edges on the border of the item, since the image printed on the blank material extended beyond that edge.

Setting up Bleed on a file can be tricky for customers new to file-setup, so we’ve outlined the steps you can take in detail.


To the left, we have an image to send to print for a 5-inch square. There’s nothing wrong with the image in and of itself, but the file is sized exactly to 5 inches.





Our team will print it onto a blank, white piece of PVC board and cut it down. Even using machine precision, the edges will likely be white, since we try to avoid cutting into the image itself.

Not ideal! I didn’t order this!











Let’s try it again with bleed. To achieve this, I’m submitting an original image file sized at 5.25 (or five and a quarter) inches. I made the image file bigger than the final size I want, knowing that some of the extra photo area will be cut off on purpose. For reference, you can see the cut line our team will use when trimming the printed image down to 5 inches.

This extra space around the edges intended for trimming-off is what we refer to as Bleed.











And here’s the final result! There aren’t any white edges around the final product, and the printed area still contains all of the content that I actually wanted to keep.

On certain projects, such as posters, big checks, yard signs and other graphics-heavy products, this can be as simple as extending your background colors beyond the actual print area. A good rule of thumb is to set up your file to be just a quarter inch larger than your final desired size.



Keep in mind, however, that narrow borders of solid color present their own problems for the same reasons. Layouts that are designed with a border less than eighth of an inch thick might look thinner on some sides, and wider on others. Our hand-crafted products need some wiggle room, even with the help of machines.

To help a border look more visually even, it should have a final thickness of half an inch, in addition to any Bleed.