How to add bleed in Corel Draw

In our experience, almost all poster designs have either some colour or an image that goes right to the edge of the page on at least one side. To be able to achieve that in print, the final artwork you send will need to include bleed.

We talked briefly about bleed in the recent post about setting up your artwork for print, but this post will focus on the nuts and bolts of adding bleed to your design using Corel Draw. (Don’t worry – there will be another post about achieving this in Adobe Creative Suite in the near future!)

To recap what we discussed in the post about setting up your artwork: most printers, no matter how fancy, cannot print right to the edge of the paper. You’ve probably encountered this on your home or office printer: you go to print a Word document and a warning pops up saying that some elements are outside the print margins. To get around that when printing your poster, we print on stock that is slightly larger than the final size required and then trim it down once it’s printed. This technique relies on the artwork having ‘bleed’, which is a bit of extra image that spills off the edges and outside the final print area. (The concept is illustrated at the end of this post.) It avoids the possibility of having an ugly white band down the edge of the poster if the industrial guillotine is off by a millimetre or two.

So, without further ado, here’s a simple guide to adding bleed in Corel Draw. Note that the standard is to allow 3 mm of bleed on each edge, so that’s what we show here.

Step 1

The content to be used as bleed needs to go into the drawing space (the rectangle indicating your ‘page’ in Corel). We must therefore add 6 mm to the page dimensions by changing the page size from x wide, y high to (x + 6) wide and (y + 6) high.

  • The dimensions are displayed in the toolbar across the top of the screen. Simply type in your new dimensions here.

Step 2

Create a rectangle that is the actual page sizex wide by y high. Centre it on the page area by going to Arrange > Align and Distribute > Center to Page (or by just using the simple keyboard shortcut, ‘P’. We’re all about keyboard shortcuts here!). Now you have a border showing where the print ends and another indicating how far the bleed needs to extend beyond it.

Step 3

It’s often helpful to create a frame to show how the final image will look once the bleed is trimmed off. To do this, just create another rectangle that’s larger than the page area and then use the Trim tool to cut the smaller print border rectangle out of it. Ta-dah! A simple frame. You can move this out of the way and use it whenever you want to see exactly what’s to appear in the final print once the bleed area is cut off. Just click on your frame, ensure it’s the front layer (CTRL + Home) and press ‘P’ to move it to where it needs to be.

Step 4

To export the final file with bleed:

  • Go to File > Publish to PDF.
  • In Settings…, go to the Prepress tab.
  • Tick the ‘bleed lines’ option and enter 3 mm. Hit OK.
  • Click Save.

(For reference, to export without bleed, use the same process but deselect the ‘bleed lines’ option. This exports the image with the bleed area cut off.)

That’s all there is to it!

One final note: It’s important to remember to set up your artwork with bleed to begin with. Don’t create your artwork with no bleed and then try to add it later, or assume that you can use software settings to automatically create bleed at the end. This doesn’t work. The software will just add white space for bleed – which, as you now know, defeats the purpose of having bleed in the first place.

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