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Artwork Requirements

File Types | Scanning | Print Setup | Vinyl Cut Setup

File Types

We work primarily in a PC environment. We have Macintosh computers, if the need arises, but we prefer if you would send us artwork in a PC compatible format. Programs include, in preference order:

To be cut in vinyl:

Flexi 7.6 or lower
Scanvec Inspire
Scanvec CASmate
Most .AI, .EPS, and .WMF files*.

* Raster (bitmap) images cannot be cut in vinyl.
Please refer to our examples to see if your file will work.

To be printed:


Adobe Illustrator CS4

Adobe Photoshop CS4

Macromedia Freehand
( version 10, PC Only)

Adobe InDesign CS
(PC only)

(up to version 12)

Quark Xpress 6.5
(PC only)


  • EPS (all text converted to outlines)
  • TIFF (no layers)
  • JPEG
  • PDF (with fonts embedded)


When saving your files or burning them to a cd, please make sure you append the file extensions to the end of each file name. Example:  Save your file as "filename.jpg", not just "filename"

Other file types can be used in some cases, but no guarantees of success are made, and it is not recommended to send them for rush jobs. Upcharges may apply.

For complete setup instructions please see the appropriate section below for the department you are preparing artwork for. If you are unsure, please contact us. Preparing artwork for us does not necessarily conform to procedures you use for preparing art for offset printing. Improper setup will result in delays and extra charges.


All tif/bitmap type images used in your files should be in CMYK mode at the appropriate resolution for the output size. Image resolution will depend on the distance the finished graphic will be viewed from. Resolution guidelines are as follows:

For viewing from more than 10' away: 100 ppi* at 100% size
For viewing 2' - 10' away: 125 ppi at 100% size
For viewing closer than 2': 150 ppi at 100% size
Optimal resolution: 300 ppi at 100% size

If your layout is built at a percentage of the final size, use this formula to determine the resolution you will need at scale:

1. Finished size divided by scaled size = scale factor

2. Multiply the resulting scale factor by the appropriate finish size resolution as determined by the viewing distance formula above. This will give you the resolution you should use at the scaled size.


  • If you have an image in your file that is 4"w x 5"h, but is needed at 16"w x 20"h on the final print, you would divide the 20" final height by the 5" actual height to get a scale factor of 4.
  • If your final image will be viewed from the 2' - 10' range select 125 ppi as your resolution.
  • Multiply 125 [viewing distance resolution] by 4 [scale factor] to get 500. 500 ppi will be the resolution you need to scan your image at in order for it to increase in size without becoming pixelated.

Please do not supply any more resolution than what is necessary,
as this will greatly increase the processing time of your file.

* It should be noted here that ppi, or pixels per inch, is a measurement of file resolution. This not to be confused with dpi, or dots per inch, which is a measurement of how many dots a printer can lay down in an inch square area. Ppi and dpi do not correlate one to one.  You do not need 300 ppi file resolution to output to a 300 dpi printer.

Scanning is a service we offer, and many clients prefer us to scan for their jobs since we are most familiar with the requirements of our printing equipment. Color correction and retouching for dust and scratches are included in our scanning services. Please contact us for a quote.

Print Setup

Files should be in CMYK mode and must be built at a proportional size to the final output size. Editing charges may apply if we have to proportion or crop your file. If you have any questions about whether your file will increase properly to the size you desire please call us before sending your art.

Please crop images as closely as possible to the image area that will be viewed when they are placed. Clipping or pasting inside alot of excess image area greatly increases processing time - even though you can't see it the file still has to process the hidden image area. The image should be no greater than an inch in each direction larger than the clipping box. Images should also be scaled and rotated in Photoshop before placing them, failure to do so also adds to processing time as the software has to calculate the angle and scale value.

Please supply a fax, ink jet or laser print of your file. We compare this with what we see on our monitor. If something doesn't look right we won't output your file. Without some type of printout from your file, we have no way to check your file. Action Signs cannot accept responsibility for font substitutions or missing images if you have not given us a print of your file.

Turnaround does not begin until we have a final proof confirmation from you, and all files with complete fonts and support are present. Failure to follow our guidelines may result in delayed jobs and additional charges. Please call us first if you are unsure about anything, we always appreciate the opportunity to make your job a smooth one.

File editing/design charges are $65/hour, billed in 15 minute increments. $30 minimum. Your permission will always be obtained before we proceed with any file editing.

Vinyl Cut Setup

Only vector files can be used for vinyl cutting. Raster (bitmap) type files, such as .jpg and .tif files, cannot be used. The vinyl cutter works much like CAD plotters, it traces the vector outline of text or images with a knife, cutting the vinyl material to the shape of the image. If you look at your artwork in wireframe view you are looking at exactly what will cut. Items that overlap will cut through each other, (see examples). Paths that are not closed will simply create a slash in the vinyl, not a finished shape. All text must be converted to curves (outlines/paths) before sending the file to us.  If you are unsure of how to do this, please contact us or email the font files to us along with the artwork.  If you leave the font embedded, it will not look right if we do not have the same font.

Example 1:

This is what your file looks like.

This is what it looks like in wireframe. Instead of cutting to look how it does in full-color, it will cut several unneccesary lines through each of the individual shapes. Not the desired result.

But if it looks like this in wireframe or outline view, the rectangle and the circle will cut around each other, and join together nicely.

Example 2:

This is what your file looks like.

This is what it looks like in wireframe or outline view. If you use a straight line with a thick stroke applied to create an outline or box, it will not cut properly, it will just cut a slash in the vinyl.

You need to actually create a closed rectangle, even for thin lines, to have it cut properly.

If you are unsure of how to convert your artwork or fonts to curves to make the image ready to be cut, please call us. You can also email the image to us, with any supporting font files, and let us decide whether it can be cut.

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