Photo Printing: Why are a part of my photos cut out?

Ever gotten your photo printed only to realise that there are unsightly white lines around the borders, or a part of your photo has been unintentionally cut off? How do you avoid such things from happening? In today’s PFF’s blog, we have compiled a guide to understanding bleeds in photo printing and the proper way to address them in Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign.

What is bleed?

If you’re new to the world of photo printing, then you may not understand what bleed is. To prevent your printed photo from having unsightly white lines around the borders you must set your file up with bleeds. Bleed refers to an extra 1/8” (0.125 inches) of image or background color that extends beyond the trim area of your print. The image is printed on an oversized sheet that is then cut down to size with no visible white edges.

Bleed Example

It is best practice to set up your bleeds at the very beginning of your project. There are a few extra terms you must understand along with bleed are trim, safety, and borders.

  • Trim Line: The final size of the document after the last cut is made
  • Safety Margin: The safe area or inner margin in which to keep all important elements (such as logos and page numbers) within to prevent them from being trimmed off. This margin should be at least 1/8” inside the edge of the trim line.
  • Borders: All Framed Borders must be at least ¼ inch from the trim line or 3/8” from the bleed line.
How to set up bleed properly

Just like you can’t print up to the edge on your home printer, neither can we. Bleed gives us a margin of error when trimming, so that if the cut is a little off, the white of the paper won’t show along the edge.

Bleed and trim implications during photo printing

Here’s some examples on how bleeding and trimming can affect your printed photos.

Thin borders

Here’s a photo that has a thin border around the image. On your end, things look great but the final results look less then perfect:

Before printing:

EQ2A9787 copy

After Printing:

EQ2A9787a copy

To avoid your borders getting cut off, make sure you create thick enough border to allow for the bleed. We generally recommend against adding borders to your prints as they will be subjected to slight cutting imperfections.

If you’re looking for bordered prints, we recommend check out our Small Vintages, Wide Vintages, Smallies, Biggies, Small Squares and Large Squares.

Overly cropped bodies

You’ve learned your lesson about bleed, so you decide to bump up the size of the photo slightly for printing. Unfortunately, the print lab’s cutter missed the trim line and end up cutting too far into the photo. There’s no more irritating white slivers to worry about; but that big group shot is now missing a couple of family members on the sides of the photo. Even if you’re a professional photo printing company, achieving a perfectly accurate trim on every item you produce is impossible.

Sometimes the trim falls outside the trim lines, but other times it can fall inside them; which means any important details near the edges of your design can get cut off. It’s not usually enough to render text or graphics illegible, but it does make the finished product look less professional.

What happened? As shown, a good portion of the dog has been taken off since it was not within the safety margin. Keep this in mind for any photo print, especially when you shoot close up’s of newborn infants, shoot macros, or have text that is lined along any one side.

How to address bleeds using design software

Each design program below addresses bleed differently, so we have put together some tips for the main programs we see.

Indesign

InDesign is best suited for print. You can up set both bleed and margins in the “Document Setup” box when creating a new document. Simply bring your bleeds and margins up to 0.125 inches for top, bottom, inside, and outside. Your document will have visible lines for you upon creation.

InDesign Basics: Working With Bleeds in InDesign - InDesignSecrets.com :  InDesignSecrets

Now we’ve created bleed guides on your document, so a red line should appear on the canvas ⅛ of an inch off the side of your document. If you don’t see this, press W on your keyboard to reveal your guides.

Illustrator

In the initial “Document Setup” window, set your bleeds to 0.125 inches for both top, bottom, inside, and outside. You cannot set up margins in Illustrator, so you will have to use guides once your document is open.

How to Set Up Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator | AD-Vantage Marketing

Photoshop

This one is a little more tricky. You will have to add ¼ inch (.25) to your final document size in order for your photoshop document to account for bleed. For example, if your document is 8.5” x 11” then you will need to set the document up in Photoshop to be 8.75” x 11.25”. The edge of your page will be where you need to extend all bleeding images and graphics to. You can use the rulers to create guides for your trim and safety margins.

Photoshop New File Dialog

When it comes to printing out photos, we want to help you make sure that everything is perfect and part of perfecting printing is understanding some aspects of what happens at the print lab. To find out more on how you can print your photos, visit us at our website here.

We hope this blog has given you some insights on the importance of setting up your bleeds for photo printing.

For more information on getting your photos ready for printing, get in touch with our Print for Fun team at this email: cs.printforfun@gmail.com.

Hit us up on our Facebook or Instagram if you have any photo printing related questions you need answered.

Till next time, cheers!