Art Guidelines & Graphics Checklist
When using the PDF file containing the dieline from RBC Custom Packaging, please follow these simple rules to get the best results for your packaging print. We recommend using Adobe Illustrator to link this to build your artwork.
Note: For outside printing only, there is only one template in the PDF file. For both outside and inside printing, there are two templates in the file. Please do not alter the file or reconfigure the layout of the templates as the layout is critical to our printing workflow.
Do not rotate or alter the template we provide you as it is structural drawing specifically designed to flow through our print workflow. Rotating or altering the dieline may result in the file not printing correctly. This especially applies to two-sided printing (the top dieline in the PDF is the Outside and the bottom Dieline is the Inside)
PDF files are the only files we accept for printing. It is best to use vector-based software applications as Adobe Illustrator for building art files and saving/exporting your native file in PDF format before providing us your final file. Two- Sided Print projects must be saved as a single PDF where page 1 (the top image) is the outside print, and page 2 (the bottom image) is the inside print. The file must remain in this position to work on our automated system workflow.
- The PDF template contains a dieline layer that must remain in the file. This structural dieline included in this template is engineered to cut correctly when your box is processed for printing, so it is important that this dieline be included in the final file you send back to us. The structural drawing layer you see will contain Spot Colors for the cut and crease lines in the Swatch menu. These Spot Colors are used to tell the cutting and creasing equipment how to convert your unique art, so everything works properly. Therefore, do not change the Spot Colors to CMYK because they will print on your box.
- All artwork must be converted to CMYK. Please convert any RGB color and images to CMYK to avoid unexpected color shifting. All Pantone (PMS) colors should be converted to CMYK. Pantone and Spot Colors are not supported.
- Convert all text to outlinesto ensure your custom packaging prints correctly. This is a necessary requirement.
- Add .125” of BLEEDon all edges and into the glue flap for all your final artwork.
- All images must be embedded into your artwork file PDF. Make sure the placed images have the correct file extensions (ex: Image.tiff or Image.eps). Place graphics at 100%
- Rich Black settings. If your art includes black, we recommend building it as a Rich Black with 30 cyan (C), 30 magenta (M), 30 yellow (Y) and100 black (K). For best results, include a .5pt stroke of 100% black (K) to avoid print overspray.
- Image resolution should be no less than 300 dpi.
This quick tutorial will walk you through how to open your dieline in Adobe Illustrator and build artwork that meets our criteria. This walkthrough assumes you have basic familiarity with Adobe Illustrator or a similar vector-based software.
If you have never used a vector-based illustration program, you might consider hiring a professional graphic artist. Or contact RBC Custom Packaging and ask for our professional packaging designers assistance (there is a fee for design services) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Right-click on your PDF dieline and select Save As or drag the file to your desktop.
1.Open Adobe Illustrator.
2. Select File > Open and select your file from the location where it was saved. You will be presented with your custom dieline.
3. In your Layers panel, create a new layer and drag it beneath your dieline layer. Be sure your dieline is always visible and the top-most layer in your file.
4. If you selected “Print – Outside & Inside” when ordering your box, you will receive a two-page dieline file by email. Make sure you have the latest version of Adobe® Illustrator to open both pages of your dieline – the first page on the left is your outside artwork, and the second page on the right is your inside artwork. Lock your dieline layer and create a new layer to insert your artwork for both sides of your box.
5. Design your fantastic item! Place your custom artwork in the new layer that you created in step 3 or 4. Make sure to follow all of our artwork guidelines. For help with how to use Adobe®Illustrator click here.
6. When designing your item, make sure your artwork is inside of the green bleed line. Any color or artwork that should print to the edge of your item needs to bleed past the edge of your item 1/4 inch. Any artwork outside the bleed line will be automatically removed during artwork processing. All important images and copy should be at least 1/8 inch from cut and crease lines.
7. Embed all images. In your, Linkspanel select the settings icon on the right and select Embed Image(s)
8. Outline all fonts. First, select all items on your document by pressing command + Athen select Type > Create Outlines
Color Mode is CMYK. File > Document Color Mode > CMYK Color
Here is an example of artwork ready to be saved:
10. Select File > Save As to save your new PDF. You can use the default Illustrator settings.
For our custom corrugated boxes, we do not offer white ink.
Our digital print supports the CMYK color spectrum. If you have white in your design, please choose Standard White, Premium White, Premium White with a Gloss Finish, or one of our PurePrint materials as your base material, so wherever you have white in your design, there will be no applied ink and the white of the box will actually show (see picture below).
Premium White with Gloss Finish: If you choose this material finish, please note that there will be no glossy effect where there is no ink in your design.
Choosing Kraft Material When You Have White in Your Design
Kraft material is great to give a rusty, environmentally-friendly look to your design. If you have white in your design, however, you cannot choose Kraft as your box material.
An alternative method to replicate the look of white ink on a kraft box that you may consider is to purchase a white box instead and simulate the Kraft material by placing an image of Kraft material as a background image in your artwork file.
Also, note that light colors/pastels are very faded or completely change tones on Kraft material.
We have a graphics engineer inspect the artwork to ensure there are no technical issues with your file. The dieline file we provide you and the one that you should return to us, is the file we use in our automated print workflow. By submitting your artwork file to us, you acknowledge that you have proofed your artwork for copy, images, composition, and acknowledge that your file meets the Artwork Guidelines provided by RBC Custom Packaging. You also confirm that you have obtained any necessary licenses to reproduce copyrighted or trademarked property.
Common errors found that impact the file from working in our automated workflow includes: flattening of the dieline layer into the artwork layer, the inclusion of Pantone spot colors, rotating the dieline layer from its original position (for outside and inside printing there are two dielines that should not be changed or rotated), some image resolution or missing artwork bleeds.
This is not an aesthetic assessment of your artwork. We are able to catch errors from the majority of our RBC Custom Packaging orders (orientation errors, color issues, etc.) but we are relying on you to proof your file and meet the Artwork Guidelines & Graphic Checklist provided by RBC Custom Packaging. We do not look at (misspellings, word spacing, or grammar) images (size, orientation, resolution, etc.), and composition.
For more information on how to properly set up your artwork for our automated workflow, please refer to the Artwork Guidelines & Graphics Checklist, or follow our step-by-step guide for working in Adobe Illustrator.
RBC Custom Packaging only supports PDF’s. One PDF artwork file per item to customize. For double-sided artwork, the outside page should be first, and the inside page second. If we gave you the dieline file, it is properly laid out this way and should not be altered.
RBC Custom Packaging has professional graphics packaging designers available if you need assistance. We can help with the basics of getting your digital assets and text properly laid out on the dieline… to full blown packaging design. There is a fee for these services. Please contact email@example.com and let us know what you need, and we will contact you and provide you with a design quote.
A dieline is like a blueprint of your unique box dimensions. A dieline serves as the template for how the final packaging will be printed and formed to contain your product. They also serve to tell the packaging equipment when to cut the printed material in our automated workflow.
We send one out to you for each custom order your place with us. Open this dieline with Adobe® Illustrator to add your custom artwork to the file, and then send it back to us via firstname.lastname@example.org (or the free online service WeTransfer.com if the file is over 8MB)
Below is an example of a dieline template.
At RBC Custom Packaging, we use our own optimized dielines and provide them free of charge when you place an order with us.
If you have the dieline you wish to use for your project, you will be required to place your design on the template you receive by email after placing your order. This will allow our pre-press team to make sure your production file is compatible with our machinery and processes.
Printing on Kraft
Printing on White
Helpful Tips to Keep in Mind
Colors and color saturation will appear differently on a white substrate than a kraft substrate and will impact the final color appearance of the ink.
Kraft material is a great option to give that natural look and feel to the design. Keep in mind that light colors, like pastels and grays, do not print accurately on kraft. Light colors require a brighter substrate to be printed accurately, while dark colors work well on kraft substrates. White ink does not print on kraft. If white is used in the design, it will show up as the kraft/brown color. Please keep this in mind when logos and images will be used that have the color white (negative space) in the design.
Logo on White
Logo on Kraft
Ordering & Packaging
Ideally, we would like to receive the following information for the fastest and most accurate quote:
- Box Type or Style (Mailer – REFT with dust flaps, Shipping – Regular Slotted Container (RSC), Book Box, etc.)
- Box Size (L x W x H)
- The quantity you want.
- Printing Location: Outside only (4/0) or both Outside & Inside (4/4)
- When do you need them in hand (month and day)?
- Shipping location (State and Zip Code)
- Any budget targets.
Please send this information to email@example.com
All of dimensions are given as inside measurements, so the size you order is how much space you will have inside the box for your product!
When measuring your contents to determine the finished internal box size, we recommend adding at least .25 (1/4 inch) to your actual product dimensions, for ease of packing and unpacking.
The dimensions are always listed in order of Length × Width × Height for all of our box styles.
- Length is measured side-to-side.
For mailer boxes, this is the side on which the box opens and hinges.
- Width is measured front to back.
- Height is measured bottom to top.
For the boxes you see on RBC Custom Packaging website “All Corrugated Boxes” you can print one box or 5000+ boxes. The more you order, the less the cost per box.
Once you approve your artwork, your artwork is entered into our automated print workflow. Once submitted, there are very few changes that can be made to your order. Any of the following order change requests cannot be made and require a cancellation, refund, and reorder:
- Changing box style
- Changing dimensions
- Changing material type
- Changing print options
If you wish to make a change to your packaging order and it has not yet printed, please contact Customer Service as soon as you can at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our staff will work with you to determine if your change can be made.
Yes….RBC Custom Packaging is pleased to offer printing on both the Inside and Outside of your box (also referred to as two-sided printing or 4/4).
Just let us know where you want to print, and we will send you the correct dieline – either a one-sided printing dieline (4/0) or two-sided printing dieline (4/4). This unique RBC Custom Packaging dieline is compatible withAdobe Illustrator.
If you are using Adobe Illustrator to design your custom two-sided graphics offline, be sure to use the latest version of the software (22.1 and higher) so that when you open your file it has 2 pages – one for the outside of the box (on the left), and one for the inside (on the right).
Products & Materials
How much weight can your corrugated boxes hold?
Our corrugated material is rated at 32 ECT strength.
The corrugated materials we use to create your custom box are rated to carry up to 50 lbs. of materials. If the contents of your box are over 50 lbs., contact us at email@example.com to make you a stronger box using stronger corrugated material.
Our designs are optimized to fold correctly based on the style and custom dimensions you select for your box project. Our system is set up to automatically select the flute size that will function best for your box size and style. Currently, our system will either select “E Flute” (1.5 mm or approximately 0.059 inches) or “B Flute” (3 mm or approximately 0.12 inches) based on your box style and dimensions.
For this reason, we do not offer the option to select your own flute size for your corrugated material.
Standard White (also referred to as mottled white) is the everyday white corrugated material used for packaging. Standard White has a slight variation in whiteness if you look closely. This standard grade has white outside liners and Kraft flute. Our Standard White material is white inside and out for no extra cost.
Premium White is the top-dog of white corrugated. It is made with clay-coated heavy outer liner paper and is reserved for high-end packs. Our Premium paper option is white, both inside and out
Premium White with a Gloss Ink Finish is a process where ink is cured to appear glossier than a traditional matte finish. It is only available on Premium White. Your art will stand out from the others with this type of material: make your box shine with a glossy finish!
Please note: There will be no gloss effect in any place that does not have ink in your artwork.
Kraft material brings a certain ‘crafty’ look (in a great way) to your projects. Consider the color and type of material being printed as color results will vary depending on the color and texture of the board used to make your product. Color printed on Kraft board looks different than color printed on regular white or premium whiteboard.
Please note: We cannot print white colors on Kraft. We print digitally in CMYK colors, which cannot produce the color white. If your artwork relies on using white in your design, you must select a white material for your box. To achieve a white ink effect on a Kraft box, select Standard White material and include a simulated Kraft pattern in your
Light or pastel colors on Kraft will look faded or even appear as a different hue. This is because Kraft has no coating (unlike Standard White or Premium White) and the inks will saturate into the Kraft material to some degree rather than sitting on top of the material. This impacts the brightness and hue of the colors.
PurePrint Materials Collection
PurePrint Premium™ combines our brightest white material with our best print quality to deliver vivid, full-color impact and high-end results, using environmentally-safe True Water-Based Inks.
PurePrint Matte™ is an understated yet impactful, pairing a mottled white material with our best print quality to deliver a luxurious shine-free look using environmentally-safe True Water-Based Inks.You also have the option to choose PurePrint Premium™ with Kraft or PurePrint Matte™ with white.
Production & Shipping
- Full production orderstakean estimated 10-15 business days from the time artwork is received, approved and payment is made. This does not include shipping time. Plain boxes with no artwork also follow our usual production lead time.
- Rush Production option (available for corrugated boxes only): You can often expedite production and reduce our lead time to 7 calendar days instead of 10-15 calendar days! Just let us know you want your order “Rushed” . There is an additional fee charged for Rush orders. This does not include shipping time.
- Sample or proof orders, which include any corrugated box order of a quantity of 4 or less, takes an estimated 3-5 business days production time.
- Timelines are subject to change without notice.
Shipping times are based on the shipping method you choose when placing your order. If you choose UPS or FedEx Ground, then your order does not have a guaranteed delivery window. The UPS Ground or FedEx Ground delivery window typically falls between 4-7 days. This time may be reduced depending on your location. If you need your order by a specific date, please advise us and we will select a guaranteed delivery option (such as UPS/FedEx 2nd Day Air or UPS/FedEx 3 Day select or UPS/FedEx Overnight).
When your order is shipped from our facilities, you will receive a confirmation email with your tracking number. Please allow 1-3 business days to see an update on the status of your shipment from the time you receive your tracking number. If your order contains several different products or a large quantity, you may receive more than one tracking number for each package.
Please note RBC Custom Packaging cannot be held responsible for delivery delays caused by inclement weather or similar uncontrollable events or based on any circumstances related to one of the UPS or FedEx carriers.
Our plant is closed for all major US holidays (and Black Friday) and that no shipping happens during weekends and holidays. Our lead production time is stated in business days. All ready-to-ship dates are estimates and subject to change without notice. If your order is ready on a Friday or weekend, it will ship out on the following Monday. Our Rush Production offer can become unavailable at different times of the year without any warning.
RBC Custom Packaging Offers Rush Production Options for corrugated boxes.
Get your boxes produced in a record time of 7 business days (versus our normal production lead time of 10-15 business days) with the Rush Production option. Please let us know the date you need your boxes, and we can determine if this Rush production option works for you. Production starts once the art is approved and payment made.
Please note: Rush Production can become unavailable at certain times of the year.
We also offer expedited shipping options if you need the boxes even faster.
I received damaged, defective, or incorrect boxes. How can RBC Custom Packaging help?
We are sorry to hear you are not 100% satisfied with your order.
You may return or exchange only those products that are defective, provided that you notify us within 10 calendar days after your receipt of such products. “Defective” means that the product does not substantially conform to the style, dimensions and/or artwork you provided to RBC Custom Packaging upon placing your order.
In the event that the return or exchange is due to the product being defective, RBC Custom Packaging will be responsible for the shipping costs associated with such return. Returning the products will be at the discretion of RBC Custom Packaging once the products are determined defective.
Please email our Customer Success team firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Order ID (PO-XXXXX)
- Order Date
- Issue(s) with products received – damaged shipping box, incorrect artwork, etc.
- High-resolution pictures of the issue(s) – the more information the better
- Best contact information – contact name, email and/or phone number
We will get back to you as soon as possible with more information.
*Certain jurisdictions may provide additional statutory rights. Nothing herein is meant to limit your return or cancellation rights under local law.
Discover what printing solution is best for your custom packaging project.
There are some important things to know about digital print when considering what printing process is the best fit for your project. Digital has fantastic benefits, especially for small businesses and startups with limited budgets, but there are some things to consider so you have the right expectations when committing to your project.
What Exactly is Digital Printing?
Digital uses CMYK colors and involves dots spraying down onto the corrugated surface (like your desktop inkjet printer but industrial-sized and much faster). The benefits of digital print include the ability to do short runs (no minimums) and no print plate is required to produce your artwork.
Digital print approximates color by combining millions of dots of four separate ink colors. The edges of digital print will tend to look fuzzy because they have no defined edge, the edges are made up of many-colored dots and some darker dots next to light dots will make your eye not see the edge as crisp. For this reason, you will see dots/slight graininess when you zoom in; that is exactly what digital print is. It will never look totally solid like offset printing, especially under magnification.
From an artwork standpoint, the digital print will look a little splotchy on colors that are near light pink/blue/orange and pastel-looking colors. It is because in the CMYK spectrum there is very little K (black) and small amounts of CMY to make up the light color (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow) – the ink is commonly referred to as being ‘transparent’. Our eyes see darker CMYK colors as more solid and pleasing, and light CMYK colors as more pixelated and noisy. Additionally, digital inks are transparent, so the base white comes through more which further impacts light colors. It is all about color composition and the amount of ink dots required to make any given color.
- Digital CMYK printing cannot create a clean white color, so white materials such as Standard White or Premium White must be used to create the white in any artwork.
- If you need white on Kraft, then we recommend you choose a Standard White material and use a simulated Kraft pattern in your artwork.
- Blacks and dark solid colors look great on Kraft, but light colors such as pastels do not fare very well due to lack of black color ‘K’, ink saturation, ink transparency, and the color change that can occur (for example: if you use a pastel blue, you are effectively mixing that blue with the natural brown hue of the Kraft cardboard and the result may come out as a green).
- Generally, using shadows in your artwork or text fonts smaller than 16pt will exacerbate the digital print elements mentioned above and the natural dot fuzziness will be more pronounced.
- Use artwork created as vectors (e.g., Adobe Illustrator) rather than pixels (e.g., Adobe Photoshop).
Tolerances in Digital Printing:
Printing and cutting registration are considered within spec as long as it is .125” or less from the specified dimension. Keep in mind these tolerances when designing print. On your screen you may see color abruptly end on a panel cut or crease line but when manufactured that color border can move up to .125” and still be within spec. This means your color may slightly roll over a panel, or fall short, by up to .125.”
This manufacturing tolerance is also why we require a .125” bleed around your printed box.
Digital Print Pros: Faster turnaround, no minimum orders, lower pricing, no dies/print plates required. Excellent on bright solids and darker prints.
Digital Print Cons: Potential fuzziness on fine or tiny details, fine pointillist-like dot/grain effect when seen zoomed in – more noticeable on fine scroll detail or small text. CMYK transparency is more apparent in pastel and light colors.
What Other Types of Box & Label Printing Processes are There?
There are several printing processes for all types of mediums – the main alternatives for box printing are Offset Lithography and Flexographic. If digital is not a good fit, we can use these printing methods for larger quantity runs.
This process involves a printing plate, which is most often made from aluminum, contains an image of the content that needs to be printed. When the plate is inked, only this image part holds ink. That inked image is subsequently transferred (or offset) from the plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface. The process can be used to print on paper, cardboard, plastic, or other materials, but these have to have a flat surface. This process produces crisp clean printing but is quite costly with long lead times, high minimums, per color printing costs.
In flexography, the content that needs to be printed is on the relief of a printing plate, which is made from rubber. This plate is inked and that inked image is subsequently transferred to the printing surface. The process can be used to print on paper as well as plastics, metals, cellophane, and other materials. Flexo is mainly used for packaging and labels and to a lesser extent also for newspapers. It produces a clean crisp print, needs plates, longer lead times typically have set minimums.