Roastar 101: Custom Artwork Process and Resources

May 30, 2023
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  1. Blog
  2. Process

Time to Turn Heads: Creating Your Packaging Masterpiece.

People like my product. It does what it promises. Does the way it looks matter that much?

Think of your best friend. Now think back to the first time you met them – the assumptions you made based on the way they dressed, talked, and carried themselves. Packaging is your audience’s first impression of your product. It’s your chance to lock in traits like “approachable” and “trustworthy” and signal identifying quirks of your brand that customers will grow to love (like an endless stream of dad jokes).

Every product-based business dreams of killer custom designs, but that can be a daunting prospect in practice. Getting an art file ready for print – especially if it’s your first or second time – comes with head-scratching and complications. Maybe you’ve never worked with “bleeds,” or your initial design left a bunch of empty space on the back of your packaging.

On the bright side, we’ve hit pretty much every snag in the process you can imagine, and we’ve developed strategies to handle them all. Between our FAQs, resources like our Artwork Specifications, and our incredible customer support team, you’ve got this in the bag (yep, dad jokes are one of our things).

Your personal artwork A-Team.

Our designer network should be your first stop if production-ready art files feel a bit over your head. They’re a group of top-notch package-prettifying professionals, many of whom have been through this journey more than once (note the “certified” ribbon on their icons). Previous Roastar experience means insights and familiarity that make all things artwork-related a breeze.

Checking all the boxes (and troubleshooting issues).

In case you’ve got wicked graphic design skills (or an in-house designer), we also offer artwork file templates and specifications, which will spell out exactly what it takes to be prepress-ready.

Handy-dandy templates

This whole section of our site is dedicated to laying your art out just right. Once you’ve selected the packaging type, we’ll ask you what it’ll be made out of, as well as what size you’re thinking. That’ll narrow things down to a single, downloadable PDF template file.

The nitty gritty, a.k.a. artwork specifications

Our template page’s sister tab gives you a thorough list of details to double-check, even after you follow your specific artwork template to a T. It covers everything from general topics, like 300MB file size limits, to the file types we accept, explanations of our quality tolerances, and notes on embedding your images correctly. Save some time in the long run by clicking through these!

When you’re ready to send over your CMYK-converted, fully-image-embedded artwork using ShareFile, just reach out to your customer rep for the best link. Our team might come back with tweaks or best-practice-based suggestions, but only out of genuine care for your final product.

You probably still have questions.

Which is super understandable. In fact, we’ve planned for it with an FAQ list that covers the most common and widely-applicable stuff. You’ll find even more solutions neatly organized on our website, but if even that didn’t cover your quandary, just hop on a live chat with our customer service or prepress teams!

  • What does it mean to have press-ready artwork?
    • Artwork that’s press-ready just means the file we get meets our list of Artwork Specifications (color, bleed, etc.) and doesn’t need to get sent back to you for adjustments.

Artwork Template Example

  • Why do my files need to be set up in CMYK?
    • CMYK is a color profile for design files that are destined for print. The letters actually stand for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black – the four colors of ink that are used in our printing process. RGB is another common color profile, but it's meant for screen presentation (e.g. websites), not physical dyes.

To change your artwork's color profile, just follow the steps below:

    • Go to File > Document Color Mode and select CMYK Color.


    • Go to Image > Mode and select CMYK Color.

Please note, all "Spot" color swatches need to be converted to "Process" before you submit any artwork files. In Adobe InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop, you can convert a spot color to Process by selecting "Process" in the Color Type dropdown menu that appears when you double-click on any color swatch.

  • Why is my file being rejected for missing links? What does that mean?
    • If a message pops up saying your file is missing links, you didn’t embed at least one image (or file) within your design. An embedded item has its data integrated directly into your artwork, while linked items actually just “point” to a file located elsewhere. If you send over artwork with linked items, we’ll just see a blank space where those items were.

  • Why does my text need to be outlined and what does that mean?
    • Fonts are just code that’s backed by specific font files stored on your computer or in an online repository. If we don’t have access to the fonts you used, your file will encounter errors when we open it, preventing us from preparing your file for the press. Converting your text to outlines changes your text to artwork (shapes) and removes all font information from the file. The text won’t be editable anymore, but that also means we’ll avoid font errors and can print your text exactly the way you intended it! For a detailed walkthrough of the whole process, click here.

  • How do I add metallic effects to my bag art?
    • Metallic effects add stunning sparkle and dimension to your artwork. Highlight important elements in your design by adding a subtle shine! Gloss Laminate with Metallic Effects gets you an eye-popping effect, while Matte Laminate with Metallic Effects creates a more subtle, high-end look. The base material layer of your bag will actually be fully metallic – it’s the areas you don’t want shiny that will get an extra “undercoat” of white ink, selectively blocking out the gleam. This video goes into even more detail.

The proof is in… well, the proofs.

Once your artwork file meets every layout requirement and looks jaw-dropping on your computer screen, there’s still one more step we can’t recommend enough: a free physical proof. Screens display colors by mixing red, green, and blue light (RGB). Try as they might, light-based colors will never be a perfect match for those produced through a digital printing process – which mixes cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks. Besides, don’t you want to see all the awesome effects and textures you’ve picked out firsthand before you commit to a full print run?

When we ship you a flat proof, we also send along a sample of a blank, formed bag or pouch (which arrives as a three-dimensional, shelf-ready piece) from our sample pack. We highly encourage test-filling your product in the sample bag to ensure there are no surprises when filling your product into your custom-packaging. We do offer “formed” proofs for most of our custom products – just keep in mind that due to the extra work to form them, they are $400 each.

The final touches.

If your proof is looking good, congratulations! You’re on the cusp of custom-printed packaging that’ll knock the socks off your competition.

Our next 101 post will go through submitting your order, checking up on lead times, useful packaging accessories, and a whole lot more. For the greatest inside scoop, though, we humbly suggest joining the Roastar newsletter (a huge thank you if you’re already subscribed). We promise to only share the most relevant packaging tips, product updates, offers, and customer stories – plus the occasional packaging meme. Find the sign-up link in the footer!

Can’t wait for the last part of our Packaging 101 series? It won’t be long now! Just remember, we’re always here to help with your questions, concerns, or anything else related to your packaging journey!

posted May 30, 2023