How to Add Bleed in Photoshop - Takes Just 1 Min!

To ensure a flawless print job in Photoshop, start by setting up guides that delineate the print area from the bleed zone. Then, add an appropriate bleed by expanding the canvas size, taking into account the specific requirements of your print job. These foundational steps are crucial for achieving a professional-looking final product that's free from errors like unwanted white edges or misaligned elements.

September 13, 2023
How to Add Bleed in Photoshop - Takes Just 1 Min!
"Video editors relying on templates lack genuine skill and creativity."

What do you think? Submit your opinion to see what others have to say!

"It's Like Video Editing On Steroids!"
- Sebastian Navarro, FreeVisuals Editor
Endorsed by Adobe, Motion Array is the ULTIMATE tool for creating high-quality videos! Browse 15M+ assets for Premiere Pro, After Effects, FCPX & DaVinci!

What Is Print Bleed?

Consider you're crafting a 12 x 18-inch promotional flyer. The bleed is that extra canvas you add around your design's actual dimensions. This extra space is a safeguard for when the printer trims the paper, eliminating the risk of any undesirable white borders. While a 0.125-inch bleed on each side is the norm for most standard-sized print jobs, for larger projects—like a 36 x 48-inch billboard—you'd be better off with a 0.75-inch bleed. This accounts for the increased chance of minor misalignments during the cutting of larger materials.

To set up a bleed in Photoshop, navigate to 'File,' then 'New,' and input your canvas dimensions. But remember, these dimensions should include the bleed. For a 12 x 18-inch flyer with a 0.125-inch bleed, you'd actually set your canvas to 12.25 x 18.25 inches. This ensures your design spills over into the bleed area, which will subsequently be trimmed.

The "safe zone" is another key concept. This is a buffer area within the document's boundaries, well away from the bleed and trim lines. Vital elements like text or key graphics should be positioned within this safe zone to avoid being inadvertently cut. For a standard 0.125-inch bleed, it's wise to maintain a safe zone of at least 0.375 inches from the document's edge.

(Pro Tip: Use Photoshop's 'New Guide' feature under the 'View' menu to set up guides that demarcate your bleed and safe zones. This will help you visually manage these areas while designing.)

Images can be tricky. If you're extending an image into the bleed zone, it should be a background or a pattern that won't suffer if a portion is cut off. Placing critical elements like a logo or a facial image in the bleed area is a gamble, as the cutting isn't always millimeter-perfect.

Resolution is another critical factor. A minimum of 300 DPI is the industry standard for print. Anything less may look acceptable on your computer screen but will likely be pixelated when printed. Always double-check the resolution of your images before they cross into the bleed zone.

When it comes to saving your work, PDF is usually the preferred format, followed by TIFF and occasionally JPEG. PDFs are favored because they preserve the layout, fonts, and graphics exactly as you designed them. Ensure you save or export your file with the bleed settings included; most contemporary design software, including Photoshop, offers this option.

Photoshop Print Bleed Tutorial

Setting Up Guides

  1. Activate Rulers: Press Ctrl+R to display the rulers at the top and left sides of your workspace. These rulers are essential for creating guides.
  2. Enable Snapping: Navigate to View > Snap To > Document Bounds. This ensures that any guides you create will automatically snap to the edges of your document, providing a level of precision that's indispensable.
  3. Create First Guide: Click on the top ruler and drag it down. Release it when it snaps to the top edge of your document. This guide will serve as a visual boundary for the top edge of your print area.
  4. Create Second Guide: Similarly, click on the left ruler and drag it to the left edge of your document. This guide will serve as a visual boundary for the left edge of your print area.
  5. Complete the Framework: Repeat the process for the bottom and right edges of your document. You should now have a complete framework that clearly defines the boundaries of your print area.
  6. (Insider Tip: These guides are your blueprint. They help you visualize the exact area that will appear in the final print, separating it from the bleed area that will be trimmed off.)

Adding a Bleed

  1. Navigate to Canvas Size: Go to Image > Canvas Size to open the Canvas Size dialog box.
  2. Switch to Millimeters: In the dialog box, change the units to millimeters. Millimeters offer a higher degree of accuracy, especially for intricate print jobs.
  3. Calculate New Dimensions: Let's assume your document is 150 x 200 mm. To add a 5 mm bleed, you'll need to increase both the Width and Height by 10 mm, resulting in a new canvas size of 160 x 210 mm.
  4. (Expert Note: A 5 mm bleed is particularly useful for complex print jobs like booklets, where there's a higher risk of trimming errors.)
  5. Apply Changes: Click "OK" to apply the new canvas size. Your document will now include a 5 mm bleed on each side.