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Preparing Your Own Production-Ready PDF

Launch Lab

Preparing Your Own Production-Ready PDF

For those who opt to bypass Launch Lab's built-in image-to-PDF conversion feature

Allen Chang, 25 Jun 2024

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Introduction

Launch Lab provides a convenient image-to-PDF conversion interface, enabling creators to drag and drop pixel-based images like JPG or PNG to generate a production-ready PDF file. However, there are instances where you might need more control over the production settings, or the Launch Lab’s system may not be suitable, especially in a commercial environment.

Use Cases for Preparing Your Own Production PDF

  • Certain component options may not support the image-to-PDF process. For example, if you select a punchboard token sheet with a custom option, you must supply cut lines for your uniquely shaped tokens.
  • Projects combining RGB and CMYK artwork require granular control over the colour conversion process, not provided by the standard tools.
  • Workflows that involve exporting from a workspace to various vendor platforms—such as for prototyping or mass production—benefit from the streamlined process of uploading PDF files.

Your Reference Artwork Template

Each Artwork Template archive includes a pdf_template.pdf, which should be used as your reference for the component PDF you are preparing.

Example image of the "pdf_template.pdf" file

Recommended Workflow

To minimise errors, open the pdf_template.pdf and directly place or import your artwork into this document. This template is already a validated document (except for your artwork and page count), helping to reduce potential mistakes.

If you are using InDesign, or have an existing workspace, you can either copy and paste the pdf_template.pdf vector objects onto your canvas or import them as a linked document. Ensure that the template size, spot colour settings, and names remain unchanged.

Preparation Guidelines

Cut Line Requirements

  • Include at least one vector cut line. Multiple may be necessary, such as for punchboard token sheets.
  • Assign a spot colour to each cut line, using either “Cutline” or “Dieline” as the name.
  • Ensure the cut line size matches that referenced in the pdf_template.pdf.

Artwork Requirements

  • Maintain a resolution of at least 270dpi; 300dpi is preferable.
  • Extend artwork boundaries past the cut line to reach the bleed line, as referenced in the pdf_template.pdf.

Page Count Requirement

The validator will check if the number of pages in your PDF matches the expected count for your component. Most components require two PDF documents—one for each side. For example, an 18 card deck should have an 18-page document for each side.

Components considered multi-part items, like the Game Box, should have each part on separate pages within a single PDF file. For instance, a Game Box requires a two-page PDF—one for the top and one for the bottom.

Warnings & Recommendations

Validation will pass if you meet the listed requirements. The validator’s report will also suggest potential issues for improvement, including:

  • Avoid using text smaller than 5pt to prevent legibility issues.
  • Vector lines should not be thinner than 0.25pt to ensure visibility.

For a detailed list of validation checks, please refer to the “PDF Report Error Codes” in the Launch Lab Knowledge Base.

Drawing Your Cut Lines

When required to draw your own cut lines, such as for a custom punchboard token sheet, consider the following guidelines:

  • Create standard punchboard token sheet components and use the downloaded artwork template for reference.
  • Ensure each cut line vector object is assigned the spot colour “cutline”.
  • Maintain a minimum 6 mm spacing between tokens, with a 3 mm bleed for each.

Limitations

When designing token cutlines, be aware of production limitations:

  • Avoid overly intricate shapes due to the constraints of physical die moulds.
  • Consider rounding off corners to increase durability and prevent fraying.

Ensure the arrangement of tokens on the backside of your sheet is a horizontal mirror of the front to avoid common mistakes.

Best Practices

Illustrator Users

Disable “Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities” to prevent embedding an .ai file within the PDF, which significantly increases the file size.

Resample High-Resolution Images

Resample images down to 300dpi to optimise file size and processing time.

Flatten or Rasterise Intricate Vector Illustrations

Consider converting complex vector illustrations into a single image object to reduce the validation system’s processing time and overhead, while maintaining vector benefits in your source files.

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