In today’s tutorial I share my process of designing a business card and highlight some important considerations when designing for print. It’s super important that you get things like bleed, color mode and resolution right when you’re creating your artwork, otherwise you might end up having your files rejected by the printer, having to start again from scratch or even worse, receiving hundreds of prints back that look nothing like your design!

How To Prepare a Business Card Design for Print

Business cards are a common printed product that are fairly simple to design, but before you start, make sure you receive specific artwork instructions from the print house you’re going to use. Every company has their own preferences, so the settings I’m using in this tutorial might not match up exactly to what your printer wants, but at least you’ll know what they’re referring to when they say stuff like trim size and bleed size.

We’re going to use a mix of Illustrator and Photoshop to make the most of each application’s strengths. The overall design will be composited in Illustrator, so we’ll start there. Create a new document and enter the dimensions of the business card in the artboard size settings. A common business card size is 88x55mm, but again, make sure you check with your printer first on their exact product specs. If you’re in the US, you’ll probably find the measurements are in inches rather than millimetres.

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  1. Just for the Americans using traditional imperial dimensions, business cards are 3.5″ by 2″ typically with a 0.125″ bleed. This can obviously be flipped to 2×3.5, but keep your client in mind: vertical cards may seem “cool,” but business card holders — desktop accessories or slots punched in pocket folders — are almost ALWAYS horizontal. #buggers

    • I agree. Vertical cards seem cool until you hire someone with a long name or title and it doesn’t fit.

  2. It’s a pleasure to follow you ,I’m enjoying the course…
    Above all I’m learning so much technic about photoshop, the tools ,the app’s principles that I have to respect about design and more.
    Thank you guys for this opportunity God bless

  3. Really enjoyed this article! Always great to get back to basics and make sure your process is best practice. Especially the info about black ink, using the right black will make all the difference! Thank you!

  4. I don’t know if Photoshop was really necessary here. You could just use a clipping mask (or two) on the raster. If only having one mask is terribly important, then you could use an opacity mask and move things around to your heart’s content.

  5. The information on rich black and cool black alone are worth the price of admission. Nice refresher in printing basics.

  6. I’m always concerned about the e-mail notifications from spoongraphics. It always one of the best way to learn new things.
    Many many Thanks for the lessons and the artistic work.
    Wish you the best.

  7. Very informative article! I regularly design business cards for print so I didn’t expect to learn anything from this article but I had no idea about “Photoshop black” being different! Sometimes it helps to have a refresher of the other concepts. Thanks!

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