LF Media Standees / Life Sized Cut-Outs – Bigger where it counts
WE’RE HERE TO HELP: We can arrange a cut outline for you (for a small fee) or if you are adept at Graphic Design you can use the pointers below to add it to your own artwork.
In simple terms:
ADD THE LINE: Draw a line on on top of your art that is a SPOT COLOUR called “CutContour” and set that line to overprint (roughly shown below).
ROUTER BIT OR KNIFE CUT? Substrates which can’t be knife cut (eg Thick Clear Acrylic or Aluminium) are cut with a router bit that is at between 3mm and 6mm thick. This means sharp corners do not happen and cut-out holes or internal details smaller than a 3.1mm diameter are not possible. Knife cuts on substrates like Coreflute, Stickers, Foamcore, ARMABoard can achieve much finer detail.
ORDERING: Note that currently only Coreflute Standees and Self Adhesive Stickers can be ordered online with a custom cut shape included in the price. YES – custom cutting is available on all other products but you must contact us direct. Due to the variance in handling required depending on complexity of cuts each project must be manually quoted by our friendly offline quoting team.
In more detail:
With Standees avoid too much weight left or right.
If you’re designing something that has to stand up straight (like a Standee) think through your design – is there a lot more ‘shape’ on the left or right? Extra struts can add more stability on one side but it’s often safer to factor in a ‘base’ that is wider than the top. Standees will almost always include the white gap between the characters legs and often include a white ‘box’ or even additional ‘scenery’ used as a filler to ensure the standee is not too top-heavy (can your character be standing in front of a rock? jungle? a car or house?)
Photoshop is NOT a layout application.
If you’re trying to do this in Photoshop – stop. Maybe just send us your art and we’ll put your cut line in (for a small fee). Cut lines need to be created in a “spot” colour to work which isn’t easy in Photoshop. Sure you can use Photoshop to bang out a website or three or even a flyer… but it can not do spot colour (not in a hurry anyway). If you’re wanting to do a cut-line in your artwork click that little [X] in the top right of your Photoshop window and open up Illustrator, InDesign or Corel instead (or ask us to draw the line in for you).
“Spot” colour cut line.
The actual hue of the colour you use to draw your cut line can be any colour you like – choose one that stands out against your artwork if you prefer. BUT… you MUST set the colour swatch up as a “Spot Colour” like below.
Remember to not “convert all spot colors to process” when you save your PDF otherwise your settings below wont mean jack.
Our colour naming conventions
Designing for Large Format printing comes with a number of ‘utility’ colours. Below are a few you might want to have in your arsenal. Note that these colour ‘names’ can often be case sensitive so it’s best to stick to the capitalisation and spacing shown below.
CutContour – name your spot colour swatch CutContour if you intend for the router to cut completely through the board.
KissCut – name your spot colour KissCut if you want to just cut the top layer of a sticker sheet (but not the backing paper) allowing all of the stickers on the sheet to stay on a square backing sheet. Same applies for computer cut vinyl (CCV) projects.
White – Not the “white” of the paper… and it’s not the colour called [Paper] in InDesign either. If your project requires an actual white ink to be printed (eg printing onto a clear sticker or timber) you need to add an ‘extra’ swatch into your design called White (and set as a spot colour).
Beware of Sharp Corners.
Cutting stickers or roll fed prints is a breeze…but… cutting thicker substrates on a router aint as easy. Because of the way a router blade vibrates or rotates some larger router bits can struggle to make a perfect convex corner. For best results add a slight roundness to all acute convex corners (see below).
Smooth curves are better.
You’ll notice the way we’ve not followed every bump and wiggle in the outline of Diver Joe below. Again, sticker or roll-fed projects aren’t a worry… but… if we’re router cutting thick substrates (yes even corflute) you’ll often get a cleaner result if you keep the outline simpler and smoother where possible. Autotrace outlines are out of the question as they usually contain thousands of control points and can cause processing issues with the cut file.
‘Clean’ Lines Please.
At first glance two separate lines may ‘appear’ to join up but look closer – more often than not the zoomed in result is what we’ve shown below. This causes all sorts of messy results when routing.
Another common mistake is to build the lines out of boxes or shapes (see below). This causes a router to try to cut ‘around’ the shape rather than use it as a ‘line’. In the example shown below the knife will effectively try to travel the same line twice – forwards then backtrack along the same path. This will undoubtedly ruin the cut.
Add Bleed* (or a white halo for ease and speed).
If you’re in a hurry choose to cut a white ‘halo’ around your design (as shown below). This will save a LOT of time in artwork.
If you don’t like the white halo – brace yourself because creating bleed* on custom shaped artwork is very time consuming. A lot of the time artists will simply opt to push the cut line 20-30mm outside of the object effectively creating a white ‘halo’ like we have in our “diver joe” example above. This is a much quicker alternative than creating 360 degrees of bleed.
For bleed on custom shapes you need to extend the artwork out under and beyond the cut line by hand (see diagram below). Now you see why a white halo is quicker.
Bleed can be a huge issue for life sized cut-outs of people, because who wants to spend hours photoshopping ‘extra’ shirt colour outside the edges of a shirt the person is wearing? A more common practice is to position the cutline just inside the outline of the person, sacrificing just a tiny bit of the image but saving hours in retouching. Another common workaround is to use a white ‘halo’ as shown below.
*What is Bleed? – For both offset printing & large format cnc routing there is always the risk of variance in exactly where the blade will actually cut the paper or board. Any artwork (image or colour) that goes to the edge of a page (or up to a cut line) always needs to extend outside of the intended cut line to cover those instances when the blade drops a little bit outside of the intended position (see diagram above). Otherwise you’ll end up with a fine white edge where the blade has slipped just a little bit too wide.
Overprint Your Cut-Lines.
So you’ve got it all sorted and you’re ready to go… but wait… you need to make sure the lovely cut-line that is now sitting on top of your artwork is set to overprint (see below).
Otherwise that lovely cut line will punch a not so lovely white hole in the colour underneath it when printed.
In Adobe Apps this setting is usually found in the “Attributes” window (click Window > Attributes).
If it aint tied down.
You’d be surprised what some people will steal from right under your nose. If your life sized cutout is going out onto the street we recommend printing it onto Aluminium Composite Panel (ACP) and setting up your cut-line to include a hole for a chain & padlock.
Wild Weather can also be a concern with outdoor standees. When ordering for outdoor ask us about heavy duty stakes or weighted bases for best protection.