Preparing Bitmap Line Art for printing

I was wondering if anyone had some tips on using the 1-bit bitmap black and white line art in your work. What needs to be done to it to produce the best outcome on paper in the end? Can you place a dover tiff 600 dpi file off of their CD right into Indesign, make a PDF and expect a good result without first messing with the image? Many of them just don’t do well with Illustrator’s live trace. Any tips on changing the black color with ease to a spot color? So many questions. I have a client that would like a letterpress wedding set, but I am new to designing in this way…if anyone can comment or point me in the right direction….I’d appreciate it!

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I’ve used the line art from Dover and my only comment is they should have scanned it on the disk at 1200 or 2400 not 600. I use Adobe Illustrator CS2, which comes with a Trace tool, and I apply the trace to all line art. I then go back and manipulate the lines if I need. But I seldom have to do that because I scan all my line art at 2400.

If you have a 600 dpi laser printer I would suggest printing it out first.

Hope this helps.


I agree that ideally the image would be above 600 dpi but depending on the nature of the image, you can sometimes get away with less. Also, it seems like Dover images are often scaled way up so by the time you size them appropriately, you’ve effectively increased the resolution.

To change the black to a spot color in Illustrator I first convert the image to a bitmap tiff file using Photoshop (Image > Mode > Bitmap). Then when I place the image in Illustrator I can just change the fill color.

Talk to the engraver who will make the plate for you. He will help you through the process. Do not scale up your image. If possible scan your image at a higher resolution so you get a better defined line.

is it possible to scan art directly into bitmap tiff without having to go into photoshop?

You mentioned making a PDF file. Is that to send to your platemaker? If so, make sure you save/export the PDF as “press-ready” (it’s one of the default options in both Illustrator and InDesign).