Postcard for print




Introduction and Workspace

Hello everyone, welcome to this tutorial, my name is Ed and I am going to show you how to prepare a promotional postcard for print from start to finish. From creating the work in Clip Studio Paint, adjusting the preferences, using PSD a file as File Object and exporting the file for print.


NOTE: This tutorial was originally written in English for the version 1.9.3 of Clip Studio Paint.


▼ You can download the Workspace I am going to use in this tutorial from the links below.




Let's get started!



Step 1: Contact the printing company

The first thing to do is to contact the printing company where you are going to send the postcard (or any print work) to print. You can ask to them any doubt that you have about the print process.


Here are some important points you are going to need to start:


[1] Material. There are different types of paper sheets and cardboard, gloss and matte with different g/m² and colors. For postcards a cardboard around 250-350 g/m² will work just fine.


[2] Color Profile. All printed work usually use CMYK which stand for cyan, magenta, yellow and black. From those 4 tints/inks printing machines reproduce all the colors.


▼ If you want to know more about Color Profile you can check:




Ask to the printing company what [Color Profile] they use or if they have any color guide that you can use.


▼ Here you can see a printed guide sample.


Guide samples shows the amount of ink in percentage per instance C 100 M 30 stands for cyan 100% and magenta 30%. You can make one for a home or office printer.


NOTE: Printed guides may vary depending of the printing system and paper/cardboard material. Also ask for the expiration date because colors may change as the paper gets older.


[3] Delivery. Ask to the printing company how you should delivery the print work.


a) Ask about the resolution (usually around 300dpi) and if they need you to send the file with bleed.

b) In what file format you should send the work PSD, TIF, JPG (not the best option), or others.

c) Some companies has templates files for print works already in PSD, EPS or PDF documents. You just need to fill the file with your design.


Step 2: Sketch your idea

Once you have gathered all the information needed from the printing company you can start the design process.


■ You can search for inspiration looking printed postcards or other graphic material. This is a very important step especially if you don't have much experience in the area. You can explore different ideas of how to solve problems visually and collect them into a “Moodboard”.


▲ A "Moodboard" will recollect different (printed or digital) examples of images, illustrations, fonts, colors, logos, effects and so on. The idea is not to copy one of the examples but to explore, analyze the elements, get inspired and make your own design.


NOTE: I can't show you the examples of my “Moodboard” because I don't own the copyright of the images.


Now I recommend you to make a quick sketch-drawing to visualize where you are going to place the elements in the postcard. You can do it with paper and pencil, chalk, markers or digitally in Clip Studio Paint.


▼ Here is mine. I am choosing the third one.


Remember to keep your sketch-drawing close to you in order to visualize the composition. You can also place it in a layer inside Clip Studio Paint.

Step 3: Set Clip Studio Preferences

Now I am going to set the preferences in Clip Studio Paint to design the postcard.

▼ From [File > Preferences]:


[1] In Ruler/Unit change the Unit length to mm


[2] In Color Conversion choose the CMYK profile you are going to work with. You can also assign or change the color profile later but it is a good practice to set it at the beginning.


NOTE: I am going to select “Japan Color 2001 Coated” because the colors looks better on my monitor screen with this profile and the colors look similar to my color printed guide.


[3] Create a new document. Select Comic [Canvas] Postcard -width 148mm × 100 height mm- [resolution] 350 with a white paper. You can add [Bleed width] if that was specify by the printing company.

Now you can create two [Layer Folders] one for the front and one for the back of the postcard.


▼ If you want to learn more about crop marks, bleed and safety margin you can check:



[4] CMYK Preview. From [View > Color profile > Preview settings] change the [Profile for preview] to the same you choose for CMYK in [Preferences]. If you are in windows you can change the [Library to use] to Microsoft ICM and press OK.

Now with the Preview you can simulate the CMYK colors on your screen. Remember that this is just an approximation. For an accurate color you should use a printed color guide. You can switch on/off the color preview from [View > Color profile > Preview].



▼ If you wan to learn more about Profile preview you can check:



[5] Print Size. From [File > Preferences] select [Canvas] and click on Display resolution [Settings] and with a small ruler try to match it with the one you see on screen and press OK.



Now you can see the postcard in the size is going to be printing. This is very helpful when you need to read a small text or check effects and details in the print size. You can switch on/off the print view from [View > Print size].

Step 4: Using CMYK colors

First, if you are working for a client that already have an existing logo/brand it is a good idea to ask for the colors used for the logo/brand in CMYK. You can also find the colors in the Brand Identity Guidelines of the client.


Many logos has monochromatic versions of the logo in black, white or gray. For this postcard I am going to use blue (from the printed guide) for the “GS” Gift Shop logo.


Now change the [Color Slider] to CMYK and create a New Color Set to save your colors.


▼ If you do not know how to create a color set, please check:


▲ Use the [Color Slider] to create the colors based on the printed color guide that you are going to use. You can add colors to your [Color Set] with the drop+ icon.


NOTE: You may notice that the registered colors could change their values in the Color Slider but visually they will look the same.


▲ Extra Tip: When you use Black at 100% in CMYK it may not look as dark as it should. I contacted the printing company and they say I needed to add 60% of cyan, magenta and yellow in order to get an authentic dark black. Feel free to contact your printing company and make questions about it.


Step 5: Set the Grid in Clip Studio

Now I am going to set the grid in Clip Studio Paint to start drawing the icons, ribbon and lines based on my sketch.


You can change the grid from [View > Grid Settings] and choose the Number of divisions and Gap that you like. Make sure you click over the [Snap to Grid] icon or press the shortcut CTRL+3 to draw lines based on the grid.


■ Create a new document. Select Illustration [Canvas] Custom-width 10cm × 10 height cm- [resolution] 350 with a white paper. I am going to use this square document to drawing icons based on my postcard sketch.



▼ Now change the [Grid Settings] Gap 1 cm and Number of divisions 2.


If you are using my [Workspace] you can use the shortcut SHIFT+G to view/hide the grid and ALT+G to change the grid settings. To continue with the next step make sure the [Snap to Grid] icon is activated.



Step 6: Draw Vector Lines

Now I am going to draw the gift icon from my sketch-drawing in the square document created in the previous step. You can use Vector layers instead of Raster layers to transform the lines without losing quality.


■ Create a [New Vector layer] and select the Rectangle from the [Direct draw] tool (shortcut U). Change the [Roundness of corner] to 120. With the [Snap to Grid] icon activated drag your mouse over the canvas and the shape will snap to the grid.




Select the Continuous curve from [Direct Draw] and choose Cubic Bezier. If you have worked on apps/software like Illustrator, Inkscape, Affinity Designer, etc. you may find this curve similar to the “Pen Tool”.



▲ Use the Continuous curve to draw a line using [Snap to grid].

[1] Click on the canvas to start drawing. You probably are not going to see anything until the next click.

[2] Click again using the grid as guide to get a straight line.

[3] Click and drag to draw a rounded corner. Now you can complete the drawing and press Enter once you have finished. You can also double-click but make sure you don't create another point by mistake.


NOTE: If you need to delete the last point press DEL or Backspace. For cancel the drawing press ESC.



▲ A fast way to draw the decoration ribbon is using a Symmetrical ruler at the center of the document. You can create a New vector layer to draw the decoration at the top of the gift box.


Make sure the [Snap to Special Ruler] icon is activated before start drawing the line as we saw above.



▼ If you want to learn more about rulers you can check:



▲ Once you have finished the drawing you can change the Brush Size from the [Tool property] palette with the Operation tool (shortcut O) selected. I am going to change the Brush Size to 40 and save the document as “Gift-Box-Lines”.


You can use these tips to draw others icons as well. You can also use different sub tools like Polyline, Elipse and Polygon.


▼ Here are my line drawing icons:



■ Now back in the postcard document. You can draw the ribbon at the center using the Polyline sub tool and change the color, Brush Size and Brush Shape. I am going to change the Brush Shape to Spray to add some texture to the lines.



And for the back of the postcard I am going to change the Brush Shape to Dashed line.



Feel free to experiment with the other Brush Shapes and choose the one it works best for your print work.


Step 7: Adding Text to the postcard

Now I am going to add text to the front and back of the postcard. In order to make the process easier and fast I am going to group the fonts in a new Font List.



[1] From the [Tool property] palette select Font and click over the gear icon to open the Settings of font list.

[2] Click over the first icon to Create a new Font list and name it.

[3] Select the fonts you are going to use in the postcard or any other print work and click OK.


This will save you a lot of time especially if you have a large font collection in your system.



■ Select the Text tool (shortcut T) and set the Font and Size you want to use. You can also change these settings later. Click on the canvas and start typing the text. You can select part of the text holding SHIFT while moving the arrow keys or with the mouse. I am going to use a bold font for the “30% OFF”. You can also change the color but make sure to select just the letters you want to change the color of.



For the back of the postcard I am going to use 90% black for the text information. Make sure that you don't choose Dark Black that contains other tint/inks (cyan, magenta, yellow) because you can get some printing registration problems. You can also use the [Print Size] preview to check the readability of the text, specially with text below 11.



▼ If you want to know more about the Text tool you can check:


Step 8: Importing a File Object


In this step I am going to import one by one the icon drawings created in square documents in a previous step. From [File > Import > Create file object…] select the Clip Studio file and press OPEN.



▲ You will see a message giving you details about the object layer. Once you press OK you will see an icon that indicated that this drawing is a [File object] in the Layer palette.


You can transform the file object and it will not affect the original file in any manner. Now if you want to change the color of the line you can't do it from the [Tool property] palette. If you want to edit or change a color permanently you can [Open file of the file object] from the Layer menu and make the change.



■ A fast and easy way to change the color of a file object (without open the source file) is to use [Layer color] from the Layer property palette and it will not affect the original file.



▲ Select the color you want to use and click over the layer color when you see a fill icon that appears in the Layer property palette.


You can repeat the process with the other drawing icons and try different colors. You can also use the grid as a guide to place the elements in the postcard or other print work.


▼ Here you can see the other icons in place.




■ IMPORTANT: You can also import PSD files into Clip Studio Paint as File objects. From [File > Import > Create file object…] select the PSD file and press OPEN.



▲ Here you can see a photo that was cut out and saved it with a transparent background. If you don't use a photo editing app/software you can use the selection tools and masks on Clip Studio Paint.


▼ If you want to learn more about masks you can check:


Step 9: Convert Layer to File Object


You can save any Layer or Layer folder into a File Object. This will automatically create a new Clip Studio Paint original file that you can edit later.


▼ Here is the Gift Shop logo I created for the postcard.



[1] I used two different fonts for the “GS” logo. Also I added a [Border effect] with a blue Edge color.

[2] Then I created another layer for the text “Gift Shop” in two lines with the same blue.

[3] Finally I placed the 2 layers inside a Layer Folder. If you are using my [Workspace] you can select the layers a press CTRL+G to Create folder an insert the layers you have selected.


Now select the Layer Folder and from [Layer > File object > Convert layer to file object…] choose the Area for the new file object, press OK and save the new file. I am going to choose [Drawing area] and Keep original layer.



Once you have saved the new file object you will see the message and icon layer as we saw above in the previous step.


Step 10: Export for print


Once you have finished the postcard design you need to [Export (Single Layer)] the work in the file format required by the printing company. In case that you want to delivery an editable document you can [Save as…] the file as PSD with all the layers and folders.


I am going to export the postcard in two separate PSD and TIFF files from [File > Export (Single Layer) ]. One for the front and one for the back.



[1] Make sure Text is selected. You can also choose Crop mark (T) and Default border (Y) if you are planing to print a copy in your personal ink printer.

[2] You can select the Expression color and Embed ICC profile. This will insert the color profile you set in the preferences with the document.

[3] You can choose the Scale ratio. In order to send the file to the printing company you should export it at 100%.


NOTE: In case that you have created the document with bleed but the printing company now tells you that is not necessary you can crop the image from [Edit > Change Canvas Size] before exporting the postcard in the required file extension.


Finalizing & Print samples


Finally, before sending the postcard or any print design to the printing company, it is a good idea to visualize the work on the material that is going to be printed (paper, cardboard, etc). Use an ink or laser printer to create one or many samples to check colors, text size, safe area, etc.


Once the design is ready for print production you can give a correct printed sample to the client and the printing company.


If you visit the printing company you can discuss about the correct colors with the designer. Remember the colors may differ from ones you see on the screen monitor and the copy you have printed with ink or laser printer. That is why color guides such PANTONE or similar are really helpful to reproduce the colors.


▼ Here is the final postcard.



Thanks for following this tutorial! I hope you have found some useful tips here. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below and don't forget to enjoy creating.





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