Vector Files, PMS Colours, and ‘Allow for Bleed’ : Help Me?

There are three terms that seem to cause more confusion than any other when attempting to explain something to a client: vector files, PMS colors, and ‘allow for bleed.’  When some of these phrases come up it is just like the deer in headlights look. Honestly, words like PMS colors and allow for bleed can strike fear in the heart of somebody caught off during a meeting.  While this terminology may seem trivial, it is critical that what the phrase meaning is understood by all parties. The reason for this is simple: when lost in translation, the final product will more than likely not be what you envisioned.

However, when the words are broken down, they lose their intimidation factor and will prove to be invaluable for the future.  The trends away from old technology will never stop so being familiar with the meanings will be an asset.  In this article we are going to breakdown exactly what vector files and PMS colors are as well as what it means to ‘allow for bleed.’

Vector Files

In order for you to understand what a vector file is, first you have to understand the anti-vector file; the raster file.  Now, raster may ring a bell, as it is the most popular term associated with images online.  Raster files use many colored pixels or individual building blocks to form a complete image. JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs are all Rasters.  The issue with these guys is their inability to be resized clearly because of their fixed number of pixels.  You probably notice this issue when attempting to stretch a rastire picture.  The image will often be distorted and grainy with an overall lack of quality in the image. While this has been a practice for sometime, the vector file has given other options.   In short, Raster images limit what you can do later with your pictures.

vector files

The Vector File is great because it, on the other hand, allows for more flexibility. The vector file is a cutting edge design, constructed using mathematical formulas rather than individual colored blocks. Vector file types such as EPS, AI and PDF (not all PDFs are vector) are excellent for creating graphics that frequently require resizing.  The vector allows you to stretch, shrink or do whatever you want with your image with clarity.  The same logo for your shirt can be shrank for your business card without losing any detail.  The take away from this is you should start taking a hard look at vector files.  It will make your life much easier down the line.

PMS Colours

PMS stands for Pantone Matching System and it plays a critical role in selecting the correct colors for any product, design, or image.  The benefit of the PMS colours system is that it has become a largely standardized color reproduction system. By standardizing the colors, manufacturers from anywhere can look at the Pantone system and see that the color is an exact match.  There is no guessing involved because it is numbers, not words communicating what you want.  By submitting the right PMS Colour you are giving over an exact diagram of what you want.
vector files

 Allow For Bleed

‘Allow for Bleed’ is a method in printing to ensure that the artwork covers the entire page. Essentially you print your logo at least 1/8 of an inch beyond the edge of the page.  By doing so this accounts for any misalignment of the printer or any other small mechanical variations.  As a result there is no chance for there to be that thin white border to show up around the outside when it is finished.  When it has been allowed to bleed cutting the artwork can be done with greater precision because it is at every corner of the page.  There is no border in any area of the artwork you did not want.  Allow for bleed means your artwork is completed perfectly at the edges.  It allows for a smooth cutting process.

vector files

Overall, these terms are not difficult to digest when you know what they mean.  Following this article Vector Files, PMS Colours, and what it means to ‘Allow for Bleed’ should be clear.  Using the correct terms and files will insure a final product you predicted.

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