Stouse Color Guidelines

Art Guidelines

Submitting your artwork.

Requirements by
Print Method

Spot and 4-Color Process Printing

Spot Color: 

      • All spot color jobs require vector artwork.
      • If raster artwork is the only art available, contact your customer success representative.

4-Color Process:

      • Vector artwork is preferred.
      • Raster artwork is only acceptable for photographs and similar style artwork.
      • If raster artwork is the only art available, 600 dpi at 100% size is required for best results.

Software/File Format

Preferred: (Creative Cloud)

      • Illustrator .ai
      • InDesign .indd (Include fonts and links)
      • Photoshop .psd (.psd is raster artwork)


      • .tif (if raster is acceptable, see below)
      • .pdf (fonts must be converted)

Vector vs. Raster


Vector artwork is an image created of points and paths. This results in artwork that is editable, scalable, and able to be separated for spot color reproduction.

Common Vector file formats include: .ai, .fh(x), .cdrm, and .indd (these formats may also contain raster artwork).


Raster artwork is an image created of many pixels. This results in artwork that is not editable, scalable, or able to be separated for spot color reproduction.

Common Raster file formats include: .jpg, .bmp, .psd, .tif, and  .pcx.

Vector Artwork Guidelines:

Follow these guidelines to avoid additional charges and/or time for your order.

      • Artwork must be submitted at the actual size of the finished product.
      • All fonts must be converted to outlines/paths.
      • All placed/linked images must be embedded or included separately.
      • All images must include the required bleed if necessary.
      • A color copy or .jpg indicating cut should be submitted for reference.
      • All spot colors should be specifically identified. Include white if necessary.
      • Cut/Die line should always be clearly indicated with an unused spot color.

Download Art Templates for your products to ensure your vector artwork is correct. Download Templates

Submitting Artwork

Preferred: Email or Website (contact customer service for details), CD‑R/RW

1. Include a .jpg, .png, or .pdf for reference
2. Convert all fonts to paths/outlines
3. Include or embed all placed images
4. Submit artwork at actual size
5. Identify all spot colors

6. Allow for bleed if necessary
7. Submit the original file if possible
8. Never flatten/merge the layers of a .psd
9. Indicate the cut/die line clearly
10. Verify art meets all Artwork Guidelines

Cut Margins and Bleeds


Bleed is the distance the ink extends past the finished edge of the product before final cutting. Standard minimum bleed is 1/8″ (.125″). Raster files must allow for the required bleed when submitted because they are not editable like vector files.

Cut Margin

Cut margin is the minimum space required between elements of art and the finished edge of the product. Size and product are the two main factors that determine cut margin.

Note that bleed borders must exceed our minimum cut margin.

Font/Text Guidelines

Available Fonts:

Adobe Font Folio 9.0
(Contact our customer success team for details.)


Minimum Font Sizes:

San Serif in All Caps
Positive: 4 pt. bold / Reverse: 6 pt. bold

Serif in All Caps
Positive: 6-8 pt. bold / Reverse: 10-12 pt. bold

Live Text:

Live text is still in a text format in the artwork’s original program and can still be spell checked and corrected. Live text does require the fonts used in order to be displayed and printed correctly.


Converted Text (Outlines/Paths/Curves):

Converted Text is vector artwork and as such can no longer be spell checked. However, it does not require fonts in order to be displayed or printed correctly.

Alphanumeric Numbering, Variable Data, and Barcodes

Available in Black only. May require an Excel spreadsheet.

Alphanumeric Numbering: Black numbering is available with letters for use as prefixes and suffixes. Example: “A123”, “123 RED LOT”

Variable Data: Variable data is available for copy such as phone numbers and locations.

Submit an Excel spreadsheet containing the data.

Barcoding: Barcodes are available as constant, variable, or consecutive, in Code 39. Barcodes with variable numbers will require an Excel spreadsheet. Chrome and reflective materials will interfere with code readers. White is required behind barcodes and QR codes.

White Ink on Clear Materials

Clear materials often require white ink to maintain color integrity. Three options are typically used depending on the art and text elements.

1. Flooding the Background White

Flooding coats the entire decal with white and, except on rare occasions, it should be done with face application clear decals only.

2. Applying a White Halo

Elements with a halo are backed for opacity and have white extending slightly beyond the art creating a “halo” effect. It is best used to increase contrast against dark backgrounds.

3. Backing Up Elements or Text

If the text or elements are thick enough, the white can be printed behind the text or elements only. White adding opacity, white would be unseen from the front of the decal.

Pro-Cut Guidelines:

      • Simple and open typestyles are recommended.
      • All text must be at least 1/4″ tall.
      • The space between characters and elements must be at least 1/16″.
      • Main strokes, line weights, or art elements should be a minimum of 1/16″.
      • Pro-Cuts should be measured according to the active material area being used.
      • An additional carrier for the material will be applied automatically for the process.
      • Proofs are frequently required for this product.

Additional info for Domed Pro-Cut Decals:

      • Main strokes, line weights, or art elements should be a minimum of 5/32”.
      • Round all corners and edges to 5/64”.

Picks are the areas of the letters or graphics that must be pulled out after cutting. Additional costs are applied to orders over 14 picks per decal.

Contrasting Colors

When selecting colors for use in a layout remember that visibility is key. Often color combinations can hinder visibility due to a lack of contrast. Below are some examples of low contrast color combinations and our recommendations for better visibility.

Low Contrast Color Solutions

Download Art Templates

Downloadable art templates are at 100% size in both EPS and PDF file formats. They reference final print size, minimum bleeds, and cut margins to assist you in laying out your artwork.

Download Templates

Printing Press

We’ll take care of your print order and you, ensuring you get what you want and what you need.