How to create Die Lines In Adobe Illustrator
OUTLINE THE SHAPE
A die line or die cut is the area on a layout that will be cut to a specific shape, such as the one below. You will first need to create an outline of the shape to be die cut. The outline will be given a spot color stroke that the printer will use as a guide to make the die cut.
CREATE A DIE LINE “COLOR”
Once the shape is outlined, go to the swatches palette and create a new color swatch. Name this new swatch “Die Line-Do Not Print”, set the color type to “Spot Color” and in the color mode choose any color that you want. I usually make mine 100% magenta. But realize that the color magenta is only used to visually distinguish the die line, and does not pertain to what color ink is printed.
It is important that the color type for this new color is set to “Spot Color”, so that a separate plate is created for the die line.
SET THE DIE LINE ABOVE THE DIE CUT AREA
The die line you’ve created should be positioned over the area that will be die cut. When type is used in the layout, give .125″ to .25″ space between the type and the die line. This is to insure that the type is not cut off if the printed piece shifts during the die cutting process.
SET TO OVERPRINT
The last step, which is important, is to select the die line and go to the Attributes palette and select “Overprint Stroke”. If this is not selected, the die line color will knock out (leave a blank area) on the other color plates and that is not what you want to have happen.
Don’t forget to add bleed to your shape, as when the die cut is made you will need to have access color outside of the die line in case the the printed piece shifts during the die cutting process, which can happen when you have a long print run.
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Here’s a sample file of the die line I used for this tutorial: