Photoshop How-To: Adding Bleeds and Crop Marks

Page-layout programs, such as Adobe InDesign, and illustration programs, like Adobe Illustrator, can easily handle “bleeds” and can automatically place crop marks. In Adobe Photoshop, you can use Print with Preview’s crop marks and bleed options, or you can create the crop marks manually.

Crop marks indicate where a page will be cut (or trimmed) after printing. When artwork is supposed to extend all the way to the edge of the printed page after cropping, it’s common to use a “bleed.” By extending the ink past the crop mark, you ensure that minor errors in registration or trimming don’t produce an unsightly white line along the edge of the artwork. Consider, if you will, the difference between these two advertising cards. The lower example has an error in either registration or trim, leaving a white area along the right edge.

Creating a bleed requires some advance planning. To produce the 4-x-6-inch advertising cards shown above requires a canvas slightly larger than 4 x 6 inches to accommodate the bleed area. Your print shop can tell you the bleed size required. Photoshop’s Print with Preview permits bleeds to 0.125 inch but you can produce larger bleeds manually. For a 0.125 inch bleed all around the artwork, you’ll need to work with a canvas size one-quarter inch wider and taller that the artwork itself. In this case, the 4-x-6 cards will be produced on a 4.25-x-6.25 canvas. Use Guides to indicate the actual artwork area while working.

TIP: Photoshop’s menu command View > New Guide enables you to place guides numerically, ensuring precision. When ready to output, use Photoshop’s File > Print with Preview command. In the Print with Preview dialog box, check the box “Show More Options.” In the Output area, check the “Corner Crop Marks” box, then click the Bleed button. You can specify a bleed from 0.0 to 0.125 inches. When the page is printed, the crop marks will be moved inward the specified distance.

But what if your printer requires a bleed larger than 0.125 inches? You can create the crop marks manually. Zoom way in, make a rectangular selection based on the guides, then use the menu command Edit > Stroke. (In this example, the Pencil tool was used with a one-pixel brush and the Centered option was selected in the Stroke dialog box.) The innermost horizontal and vertical lines can be used as the crop marks.


This story brought to you by the National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP). Copyright © 2004 KW Media Group. Photoshop is a registered trademark of Adobe Systems, Inc.


Posted on: July 22, 2004

14 Comments on Photoshop How-To: Adding Bleeds and Crop Marks

  1. Look out Extensis, I’m gonna beat you to the punch and develop a Photoshop plug-in that creates sophisticated printer’s marks on a layer….uh, as soon as I learn how to code.

  2. So, what produces the crop and bleed marks? After the selection, I’m not sure if I use the same commands that I would use normally in the print with preview dialog.

  3. thanks, this helped me

  4. This is awful advice. For one, using inches instead of mm is archaic and error-prone. Secondly, Photoshop can handle crop marks itself without room for human error, which this guide almost encourages.

  5. I’m using a PC (ugh!!!) and don’t find the “print with preview” command under File. Any suggestions?

  6. thank you this helped me. i was at first confused on why to make the canvas 1/4″ larger to the width and height, but later realized this is because 1/8 is added to each side, which adds up to 1/4. seems obvious, but it really took me a few minutes of thought to get there… thanks again for the help.

  7. Thanx mate… you helped me out!

  8. Very handy post, and just in time for a print job I’m delivering out of Photoshop tonight. Many thanks for sharing!

  9. great tutorial, very helpful, thanks so much!!

  10. This will not work as the cut marks should be outside but in line with the area to be cut, Easier just to put them in manually using the pencil tool

  11. Just want to say thank you for the great advice which worked very well. Thanks for the explanation too.

  12. It led me to this web page. Can I say… the info on bleed and crop marks in photoshop really helped me out. Many thanks!
    Chris R.

  13. Thanku!! So simple.

  14. DO NOT USE THE SECOND METHOD. The crop marks need to be OUTSIDE the bleed area, otherwise you will end up with black marks in the corners after trimming.
    I work at a printer and this is one of the most frustrating things someone can do. It would be much more preferable to send the file with bleed but NO crop marks than to do this.

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