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Using Photoshop for Print Design

Since Photoshop does not currently have an easy way to set up your design document with bleed and trim marks, you’ll need to do a little workaround in order to create those markings. Step by step instructions are included below or you can watch a video with detailed instructions at the bottom of this page.

Create Your Document

Step 1: Create a new document at the exact dimensions of your final printed product. Select inches for your unit of measurement and select CMYK as your color mode. For print, your document needs to be created at 300 ppi.

Setting Up Your Photoshop Design for Print

Create Bleed Guides

Step 2: Place guide marks at the edges of your document. You must first turn on rulers in order to create guides. You can do this by hitting CTRL-R on a PC or CMD-R on a Mac or by selecting at the top of your screen View and then Rulers.

Turn On Rulers in Photoshop
Click your mouse somewhere in the ruler area and hold down your button while dragging the mouse out to the edge of your document. This will create a guide line at the edge of your document. Do this for each side of your document.

Drag Guide Lines in Photoshop
Step 3: Adjust the size of your document. Select Image then Canvas Size.

Adjust Canvas Size in Photoshop
Step 4: When the Canvas Size dialog box pops up, check the box for Relative to add an amount of space around the document. To add 1/8″ (0.0125″) to each side of the document, you will add 1/4″ (0.25″) to the total width and height.

Add Bleed to Photoshop Canvas
Step 5: Click OK and your document should have an added 1/8″ to each side of the document. The guides mark the location where the document will be cut. Make sure all of your important content is inside this guide and that your images go to the very edge of the canvas in order for the ink to extend all the way to the edge of your page.

Photoshop Canvas with Bleeds

Create Trim Marks

Once you have set up your document and created your artwork, you will need to add trim marks for the printers to know where to cut your art. Photoshop does not have a quick and easy way to do this, but you can create your own trim marks with a little work.

Step 1: Create a new layer in your document to which you will add your trim marks.

New Layer in Photoshop
Step 2: Right click on your Marquee tool and select Single Row Marquee Tool.

Select Row Marquee in Photoshop
Step 3: Next click on one of your guide lines and add a stroke to the selected area by clicking on Edit and then Stroke. Do this for each side of your document.

Select Row and Add Stroke in Photoshop
Step 4: Once you have created a line on each side of the document, you will need to delete a large portion of the lines. Right click on your marquee tool again and select Rectangular Marquee Tool.

Photoshop Marquee Tool
Place your cursor in the top left corner just outside of the main canvas area and then drag until you get to the lower right corner.

Select Center in Photoshop
Click delete to remove the selected area and you will be left with only small trim marks in each corner.

Final Crop Marks in Photoshop

Save Your Document With Trim Marks

When you save your document as a pdf, your trim marks will be included and your printer will be happy!

Step 1: Click on File and then Save As.

File Save As in Photoshop
Step 2: Select Photoshop PDF as the format and click Save.

Photoshop PDF Format
Step 3: Choose your PDF settings. Select Press Quality as the Adobe PDF Preset. You do not need to Preserve Photoshop Editing Capabilities, but you may if you want to. Selecting this option will allow you to edit your file later, but it also creates a much larger file size. Uncheck the box to Optimize for Fast Web Preview because you do not want your file quality to be lowered when you intend to print your document.

Photoshop PDF Settings
Step 4: Click Save PDF and then open your file to confirm that the trim marks are visible and then simply upload your artwork!

Watch a Video Tutorial

We really like this video tutorial for adding bleed and trim marks to your Photoshop document.