How to Add Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

A little portion around the edge of your artwork in Illustrator that sticks past the “completed” cut edge of your document is known as a bleed. The bleed is removed after printing, resulting in completed artwork that ends at this cut edge.

The problem of printers not printing all the way to the edge of the paper is resolved by the use of bleeds. You can create a final document with artwork that extends all the way to the edge with no white space by defining a bleed region and trimming to size.

Knowing how to work with bleeds is in my opinion one of the top three things you need to know if working in Adobe Illustrator. I have had multiple mess-ups in my early career as a graphic designer in production by not remembering bleeds on my final send-off. 

My name is Aly, I am Adobe Illustrator certified and will be showing you how you can add bleeds to your final work in Illustrator. 

Key Takeaways

  • Remember, if you are going to print your work, add bleeds. 
  • Bleeds can be set either when you create a new document or added to an already existing piece of artwork. Ideally, you should set it up when you create a new document if you already know it is a print design.

Method 1: New Document Bleed

Follow the steps below to achieve adding bleeds into your work in Adobe Illustrator. 

Step 1: Adding bleeds from the start is quite simple, start out by creating a new document that you will be working on by File > New.  

Step 2: Select the page size, the unit of measurement (pt, px, in, mm, etc.), and enter the bleed value in the bleeds section. Although there isn’t a set standard, 0.125 inches is a regularly used bleed amount if you’re using inches.

When the link button is selected, all sides will be affected by the value you enter. You can click to unlink the link and enter the value separately if you don’t want the same bleeding for all sides.

Step 3: Your new document is created with bleeds once you click Create! After creating the document, you can still change your mind about the bleed values by using the same procedure as adding bleeds to already-existing artwork.

Method 2: Adding Bleeds to Existing Work

If you already have your work started, don’t worry we can still add bleeds to your document.

Step 1: Choose File > Document Setup from the above menu. A Document Setup box will appear, allowing you to enter bleed values.

Step 2: Click OK and your document will be saved with bleeds. 

Saving Your File with Bleeds in Adobe Illustrator

You have now created your bleeds, but exporting them will require a few more steps and setting changes. 

Step 1: Go to File > Save As and select save as Adobe PDF (pdf) from the available options. 

Step 2: After you click Save another window will pop up. Select Marks and Bleeds from the setting box that appears. Change the Adobe PDF Preset to [High Quality Print] and choose the Use Document Bleed Settings checkbox in the section for bleeds. 

The bleed value you entered when you generated the document or added it from the Document setup will automatically be filled in when you tick the Use Document Bleed Settings option.

Once you are finished changing the settings, click Save and your document will now be saved with bleeds. 

Bonus Tips

  • If you’re designing for print, make it a practice to include bleeds as soon as you generate the page. This will allow you to plan the artwork position from the very beginning.
  • Adding trim marks in the Marks and Bleed section is another good idea if designing for print. 

Final Thoughts

If you are working with designs that are going to be used in any sort of print, you definitely need to know and understand how bleeds work. The good part is adding bleeds is very simple and quick and can be added with new or already existing work. 

If you’re new to Adobe Illustrator it takes a few times to remember to add bleeds but trust me, if you can get into that habit you will thank yourself later because it is discouraging to have it sent to a printer without bleed marks. 

Any questions about adding bleeds in Adobe Illustrator? Leave a comment and let me know.

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