Tips on Submitting Control Panel Print and Cut Artwork

Please note that illustrations used here and on our website are for informational purposes only.

Artwork prints are developed using the Roland VersaCAMM VS-300i inkjet printer and cutter machine.  The printer utilizes 8 distinct color cartridges (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Yellow, Grey) to accurately reproduce most artwork in vivid, detailed color.  Maximum resolution is 1440x720dpi.

Sample Photo Zoom

If you have already reviewed our article regarding what the Plexworks service is (and what is isn't), let's now look at additional topics regarding artwork size, use of our photoshop templates, and alternative submissions for those who don't have photoshop or a similar program to edit content. 

High Resolution, High Quality

Artwork that appears on a computer monitor can look fairly sharp due to a monitor's resolution and lower pixel density than print.  This becomes a problem when artwork is submitted without consideration to print resolution.  I cover this topic in detail in a separate article titled "Screen vs Print - A Helpful Guide", worth reading before you submit your first personalized artwork to us.

I recommend that artwork is larger than 1024x768 pixels if submitted by itself.  Meeting just that minimum is not going to produce a sharp detailed print, as we must resize it to fit within a 300dpi area. In terms of screen resolution, an estimate for a 300dpi rectangle image for a large panel like the Razer Atrox is about 5000x3000 pixels or less.

Anatomy of Plexworks Photoshop Templates

To help you optimize turnaround and compatibility with the Plexworks printing service, we offer Adobe Photoshop templates for all products offered.  I highly recommend that you use these templates if possible.  However, I will discuss concessions that we can make for non-Photoshop users further down in this article.

Opening the Photoshop Template

Each Photoshop template is a compressed zip file.  To unzip, please use tools like WinZip (PC & Mac), Stuffit Expander (Mac) or MacOS' built-in unzip app to decompress the file.

Once unzipped, launch Photoshop and open the template file.  All templates will first appear like this:

Sample Template Instruction Layer

This top layer is labeled "Instructions", which provides helpful information regarding the templates' proper use, such as making sure to flatten the artwork layer before submitting the file, not resizing the template, or remembering to resize artwork past the overprint area to ensure that the cutting process does not affect the presentation.

Once you review the instructions, feel free to hide or remove this layer.  We now move to the layout:

Sample Template Layout Layer

In the template you will find several layers, most of them locked except for the "Add Artwork Here" layer:

Tools Layer Sample

The layers are locked to prevent accidental resizing or removal while working within the template.  You can always hide them by clicking the "eye" icon.  Note that the unlocked layer does not have to represent the only layer you can work within.  You can create as many artwork-related layers for your project as you want. 

Sizing for Overprint

As mentioned prior, and explained in the article "Screen vs Print: A Helpful Guide", you may have to resize the artwork to fit the 300dpi template.  Here is a good example where the artwork's existing size is simply too small to cover the entire layout:

Template Artwork Resize

Of note here is the red border around the grey layout.  This is called the "overprint".  Overprint represents extra space that is allotted for the our printer/cutter to cut without affecting your presentation.  It is critical that you size the artwork past the layout and towards the overprint area. Here is an example of resizing to reach the overprint:

Overprint Resizing Sample

Indispensable Smart Objects

Smart Objects is a recent feature in Photoshop that once used, you wonder how you did without.  

Converting a layer to a Smart Object allows you to perform a number of adjustments nondestructively. Among them, you can apply various filters that can be edited or removed without affecting the source layer. Additionally, you can edit the original content as a separate file, and its changes will appear in the layer once saved.  You're also allowed you to group multiple layers together into a single smart object; this saves you from clogging up your main document.

Most commonly used is the ability to nondestructively resize an object up or down, all while keeping its original size intact. Originally, a layer that was first made smaller and then enlarged would lose fidelity.  This is because the image data was lost when sized down. I must note that if an object is already small or low resolution, this will not enable it to enlarge while keeping detail - again as mentioned in the Screen vs Print article, image data that is not available will not magically appear when a photo is enlarged.  

To create a Smart Object layer, right-click the desired layer and select "Convert to Smart Object".  Layers that are converted to Smart Objects will display an icon at lower right.  

 Convert Smart Object Smart Object Label 

Wrapping your head around smart objects will lead to time savings down the road. I highly recommend that you use them in your projects.  Here are some resources to help you better understand:

Saving your Finished Artwork

After putting the final touches on your personalized control panel, it's time to save your creation and prepare to submit for printing.

When saving, you must keep all locked layers (Information, Overprint, Layout, Background) intact.  This means you must not flatten or merge them together.  Doing this, or worse, merging your artwork and the locked layers, will result in a hold within the fulfillment process.

Instead, flatten all of the unlocked artwork layers that you created into a single layer.  This will effectively reduce the file size, making it easier to upload your submission when placing an order.

The submission should be saved as a PSD file.

Save a Layered Copy

Save a copy of your layered photoshop file before flattening those layers. You never know if you have to modify it later.  It's just better to have that copy on hand.

If You Don't Have Photoshop

Plexworks will accept files in JPG, TIFF, and PDF.  However, there are some caveats when submitting these formats:

  • Artwork that are submitted without guidelines, a smaller size than 300dpi, or other inconsistency from our templates will be prone to judgement calls from our fulfillment team when sizing for print within our internal templates.  Please note that custom artwork services are not refundable.
  • Please consider the artwork you are using in relation to the Fightstick layout you want to print on.  For example, buttons, control panels, and other elements may block out key parts of the artwork when cut.
  • Please keep in mind that artwork submitted without guidelines will be attempted to line up with our internal templates, but may not align exactly as expected.

 

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