Using Adobe to create art for polymer plates

So this goes out to those of you regularly using an Adobe program to create art for Polymer Plates. I am self-taught at using Adobe and have had good luck with everything I have produced so far.
I have two questions. The first is I have read on here about people outlining their text to create a better polymer plate. Why would one need to do this and how do I go about it?

The second question is an easy one I am sure, but slightly more difficult to explain. I have seen on several films arrows at all four corners. I have seen this for two color jobs mostly. This is clearly marking the size of the image to be achieved. How do I go about setting up those arrows in my document? I am hoping someone can help me out with these two questions.
Thanks everyone!

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To outline fonts, select the text, right click, select “create outlines”, and voila! The outlined fonts probably don’t create a “better” plate (i.e. sharper, etc.) however, what happens if you don’t outline your fonts is that the output device might substitute a lower resolution font for the one your used, and that, might create a less sharp image. At any rate, outline your fonts.

As to your second question, those arrows are probably crop marks which you can add in Illustrator. They tell the printer or whomever where to trim the artwork. Here’s how you make them:
1. Create your artwork.
2. Draw a rectangle to define the boundaries where you want the crop marks to appear.
3. Select the rectangle with the Selection tool.
4. Choose “Make Crop Marks” in the Objects menu. Crop marks will appear at the corners of the selected rectangle.

Hope this helps!

I use Adobe Illustrator to create type and images that I have film made to process on my Orbital Vlll Photopolymer Platemaker. I also have film made of halftones and makes PP plates.

Always remember that the smallest width of just about everything should be no less than .35. You should make a habit to inspect the periods, commas, dot over lower case “i”, line art, and typography.

Everything Claire mentioned above is great advice.


I am glad to see that people are trying out the professional design tools. As a graphic designer and letterpress studio owner, these are my programs of choice of course!

Just a note to all those new to the Creative Suite is that it helps to specify what program you are working in, i.e. InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc., because all of these programs are actually Adobe programs. Saying that you’re working in Adobe is kind of a broad statement.

Also, wanted to point to some online help/tutorial tools that Adobe has online: Programs are listed on the right hand side of the page. Once you get to that page there are many beginner and advanced tutorials and help sections. Or, you can just search a topic based on key words. It has tons of info and you can usually find what you are looking for there, especially for the very basics.

Full Quart Press
Columbus, OH

Outlining fonts should not make any difference on the quality of output. It does make it easier to output the file because you don’t have to worry about sending the font files with the job. There is no resolution in fonts. They are vector objects and will be rasterized at the output resolution of the imagesetter.

In Illustrator you can also make crop marks by selecting your rectangle and choosing Filter: Create: Crop marks. The difference is this automates making the actual strokes that can then be altered later. Some rips won’t process crop marks made the other way so it’s best to check with whom ever is making the films.

For indesign there’s some scripts you can get that will automate making crop marks. These aren’t really needed as Indesign (well illustrator too) can add crop marks upon output based on the page size defined in the file. If your ganging several pieces onto one sheet though it’s invaluable.