skip to Main Content
Custom Dieline Tutorial 685×295

Tutorial: How to Prepare a Custom Dieline for Print

As promised in my Oktober Fest case study, I’m going to be discussing my process for preparing custom dielines for print. The setup is very simple and can surprisingly be done in just 7 simple steps.

1. To get started open up your design in Illustrator. I’ll be working on the Spring Bock beer label I created for this example. For the sake of the tutorial, your file should not have any bleed added yet.


2. The first step is to select all of your artwork (Cmd A) and then copy (Cmd C) and paste it in front (Cmd F). While the new copy of your artwork is still selected click the Unite button under the Pathfinder toolbar (Window > Pathfinder). You should now have a single solid shape that matches the outline of your art.


3. Switch the fill on the shape to a stroke and then head on over to the Swatches panel and open up the PANTONE+ Solid Coated colour library. Next, set your stroke to a Pantone colour. It doesn’t matter which colour you use, but I generally pick something that has a strong contrast to my design so that I can easily see it. In this case I chose Pantone Yellow C.



4. Now for adding your bleeds. Select the dieline you created in the last step and offset the path by 0.125″ (Object > Path > Offset Path).


5. Remove the stroke from your new path and set the fill to your design’s background colour and send it to the back (Cmd Shift [). Because the shape of your design is irregular there is no need to add bleeds in the document settings. Just make sure that your artboard is large enough to include the bleed.


6. If your design is like mine, you may have images or graphics that also need to be extended .125″ for bleed.


7. To finish things up, make a new layer and double-click it to open up the Layer Options. Name the layer as “DIELINE – DO NOT PRINT” and deselect the “Print” checkbox. This will clear up any confusion with your printer and prevent that dreaded yellow key-line from printing. Drag your dieline onto this layer and lock it. You’ve now completed the custom dieline tutorial and are ready for print!


I should also mention that everything printer has different preferences so always double-check with them and see how they want things set up.

Grant Burke

Grant is a freelance designer and illustrator, born and raised in the Toronto area. He has worked with clients from around the globe and focuses on building unique brand identities and developing illustrations for product packaging and apparel.

This Post Has 3 Comments
  1. Great tutorial! I like it!
    I’m glad that I found your blog! Could you, please, post some more personal articles. Just to see your views)
    I also would like that you make a list for the books or any other sources for beginning designer (I have no education in this field, but I’m ready to learn everything myself). Is it possible to be at least “good” designer without design school?

  2. Glad you liked it Berry! It’s definitely possible to become a good designer without formal education. There are so many good resources out there on the internet that it’s really up to you to further your knowledge. I’ll throw together a list of good books and resources that really helped me out when I was getting started – stay tuned.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top