How to set up a file to be Print Ready - Box Packaging

Hi all! I’m in need of help please.

While I was in school they didn’t teach us anything about setting up print ready files.

Anyways, I redid packaging for the company I work for - a box for one of their products. I’m told the printing company needs the file to be in vector file format, not pdf. I sent it in as an eps file but there was an issue as the fonts weren’t showing up. Figured that out on my own but now there’s another issue (which my colleague didn’t inform me about - details of any special printing). She sends me a screenshot of what they told her, “The technical dept points out that we cannot use the data to produce tools for hot foil embossing and blind embossing because the elements to be embossed are created as an image file.”

How do I go about making sure the elements that are going to be embossed are ready for print? Basically all the (gold) drops are going to be embossed with gold foil, the gold lines are foiled, the logo “Liquidimplant” and pink part of the drop logo will be embossed as well.

*colors are off but you get the gist.

The best thing to do is ask the packaging company since they might have specific instructions.

That said, if the foil embossed areas are simple, flat or rounded ones (rather than sculpted), they might tell you to create an additional non-printing layer in the artwork that contains the solid shapes that you want embossed. They will use those shapes to make a die that will be used to do the foil embossing.

Is it the droplets that you’ll be foil embossing? If so, you don’t want to create a simulation of what you want them to look like as you’ve seemingly done. Just create the separate layer with the solid spot color shapes in those positions.

If those foil embossed areas have a sculpted surface, it gets more complicated, and you’ll need to ask them for advice. For that matter, you really should ask them for advice in any case because, as I mentioned, they just might have some special instructions for you. If I were you, I wouldn’t have your colleague call; you need to talk to them and ask them questions yourself to make sure you get it right.

Edit: I just found this video that might give you a little background. Ignore the video’s suggestion to create a PDF since it sounds like your printer wants the original artwork. By the way, did they really ask for an EPS file? I haven’t sent one of those to a printer in years.

Are those droplets created in Photoslop and placed or embedded into your file?
If so, you need to delete those and create vector shapes as Just B suggested.

What might also have happened is if you used transparency to create those droplets, when you dumbed it down to .eps format, you inadvertently created something that appears to be an image file. The .eps format is so archaic it does not handle transparency at all, and sometimes does all sorts of dumb things to files containing it. Save your file as a .ai native file with all layers intact and labeled appropriately.

Thanks for the video! I’m basically just working off of what I’m told to do or what’s needed. They didn’t ask for EPS. I did ask my colleague if they were okay with an AI file (which would most likely be easier). She didn’t answer so I just sent an EPS to her to send.

Yes, the droplets will need foil embossing as well as the lines but the lines are flat I believe. The thing is I worked off from the files they had from the previous person who did the design. They wanted everything to look pretty much exactly the same (the box is just smaller) and I used the art to redo everything.

As suggested, I thought the same. That it would be best if I was in contact with the packaging company instead of my colleague. She’s just the office manager and doesn’t know anything about what they’re asking for.

The droplets are in Illustrator. I just worked off what the previous designer did and used it to redo their packaging. They were going to use a different box and then threw in a different box design for me to redo again.

Doesn’t matter if they are “in Illustrator.”
A raster image “in illustrator” is still a raster image.
A vector transparency gradient fade will usually mess up on an .eps save and become an embedded “image” with a mask, or sometimes just an object that appears to be an image, with a mask. It’s a guaranteed bug error if you, by any chance, copied a logo with a gradient from an InDesign file and pasted it directly into Illustrator.

OK, I think I understand. You gave them the following, and there’s a problem.


If those droplets and lines were to be printed with gradients on the lines and highlights on the drops, yes, you’d need to supply them with artwork containing those gradients and highlights.

However, from what you’ve said, they’re not going to be printed. They will be foil embossed, so the foil itself will create those highlights and reflections.

That being the case, you don’t want to send them simulations of what the foil embossing will look like, you just need to send them the shapes they need to create the dies used to do the foil stamping.

In other words, as I mentioned in my first post, create a separate layer in Illustrator and use a spot color (any spot color will do) on that layer to create the flat, solid shapes they will need, like the following. If the purple circle will be foil embossed also, you’ll also need to include that shape on the layer (or possibly another layer).


I don’t know what those shadows are you have around the droplets in your artwork. Do you want those printed or, once again, are you just trying to simulate what the embossing will look like? If you want those shadows printed, yes, include them in your artwork on the main layer (not the foil embossing layer). Personally, I think those shadows are way too dark, but that’s another issue.

Do not save your file to EPS format. It’s an old, obsolete format that has lots of limitations in supporting some newer effects.

Thank you @Just-B, this makes sense.

I didn’t use the vector files for the logos and some other elements, so that was an issue which I’m fixing. It’s been a while so I’m trying to reteach myself…I should’ve just went with my gut and used the vector files in the first place.

I will have to create another layer as you suggested just for the foil embossing elements. The purple circle will be embossed but not foiled, therefore I should keep the gradient right? and create another layer just for the non-foil embossed elements…

Example of existing packaging:

Ha funny you mention the shadow around the droplets! Yes, the shadow will be printed. I’m also having an issue with it. They were created with what looks like three different paths. The shadow is part of one of the compound paths. I don’t know how to edit it. When I try to scale it down, it’s not scaled properly. So I’m thinking of just making it solid, copy and paste make it black and create the shadow effect that way?

Yes, that’s what I would do if I didn’t have instructions to do otherwise from the printer. Are the stripes embossed or just foil stamped? If so, you have three variations: (1) foil embossing, (2) embossing over printing and (3) plain foil stamping. You might create separate layers for each of these things, but again, I’d ask the printer how they’d like it set up.

There are several ways to make blurry shadows like that, but none of them are especially easy to describe.

The easiest way might be to copy the drops from the foil/emboss layer, then paste them into identical positions on the printing layer. Make each just a bit larger then color them white to create that white shape behind the drops shown in your example. Then assign the desired drop shadow to them.

It looks like there’s also a little dark smudge at the bottom of each of the white drop shapes. Maybe the best way to get that is to draw a small ellipse filled with a radial gradient. It might require a clipping path or some strategic stacking of elements to keep it separate from the larger shadow, but like I said, it’s a little hard to describe.

Make sure you have Scale Stroke and Effects checked in the Preferences > General pane. Illustrator default is to not have that checked.

Precisely as described - yet the artwork doesn’t need to be vector - it could be bitmap with just 1 colour.

All it needs to do is be called something other like Gold Foil - or similar in the colour plates during separation.

Vector gives best results due to sharpness, but a hi-res bitmap would be fine too - as long as it was a solid colour and set to a different colour that can be separated.

Does it have to be a spot colour? - answer is No!
You can make a layer above all the other elements for the Gold Foil - and name that layer Gold foil - and even if the entire layer is just plain black in colour - you can export that layer only to PDF and send that off as the Gold Foil and send the rest off as “Artwork” files.

There’s lots of ways to do it. Neither one more right than the other.

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