How to Add Bleed in Illustrator – A Complete Guide!

by Azfar in How To on November 19, 2020

Although the world has gone digital, printable graphics are still in requirement. In fact, the packaging printing market may worth $440 billion by 2024. If you’re trying to know how to add bleed in Illustrator, you must be trying to make graphics for printables.

how to add bleed in Illustrator

Let me tell you one thing – it’s not a big deal to add bleed in illustrator.

When you’re printing graphics, you might want to cut them, and there’s a possibility that your edges might have a little bit of white. But, that would look too shabby, right? And we’re here to create quality designs. Aren’t we?

So here’s how to add bleed in illustrator. Pay attention on adding bleed to the edges of your document, shapes, or text, to make sure your cuts look clean and projects as well.

Not getting anything? Ah, let’s get it then.

How to Add Bleed in Illustrator – New Document Method

Generally, people add 3-5 mm of bleed in their documents. Today, I’m gonna show you how you can add 3 mm as well as 5 mm. So, here we go!

How to Add A 3mm Bleed in Illustrator

Step 1: When you open Adobe Illustrator, click on File, then New, and you’ll see a dialogue window pop up. 

Step 2: Find More Settings here and you will be able to adjust the width and height of your project.

how to add bleed in Illustrator 3 mm

Step 3: This is where you can add bleed. As I said, designers prefer 3-5 mm of bleed. But hey, this is not fixed. You’re free to play around with it. After all, you’re the boss!

how to add bleed in Illustrator 3 MM and 5 MM

Step 4: Make sure you’ve clicked on the chain icon, which is on the right. This makes sure you’ve added bleed to all four sides of the document, which is what you want to do. 

how to add bleed to all 4 sides of a page in Illustrator

That’s it. All you have to do now is click on Create Document!

How to Add Bleed to A Shape in Illustrator

Step 1: If you’ve got an irregular shape or text that you want to add bleed to, press Ctrl+8. This selects your shape. Otherwise, you gotta opt for the long way. (But, um… why would you want to?) Find Compound Path under Object, and click on Make

how to add bleed to a shape in Illustrator

Hold tight, things are about to get a little heavy here. 

Step 2: Create a Cut Path layer above your Artwork layer. 

Have you done it? Good, now make an Offset Path. 

Step 3: Select the shape/text you want to add bleed to. Go to Object > Path > Offset Path, and a dialogue box will pop up. 

How to apply bleed to shape in adobe illustrator

Step 4: Enter the value of bleed you want to add, check the Preview box to see what it might look like and if it feels alright, click on OK.

add value of a bleed in illustrator

Now at this point, your text or shapes might seem to merge together. However, don’t scratch your head yet, it will all come together eventually. This is when we add the original shapes as the Cut Path. 

Step 5: In your Layer section, move your shape/text layer to the Cut Path layer set, keeping the Compound Path layers a part of your Artwork set. This makes your Cut Path layer the layer for your original shape, and your Artwork layer as the Bleed layer. Whew!

Pro Tip: If you want to continue working on your project, you can go on the Cut Path layer and change the color of your stroke so that your original shape can be distinguished from your shape with bleed. 

Wow, was that too much? Take a break. Look out of your window. Is that a billboard with your design? Well yes, dreaming is allowed here.

How to Add Bleed in Illustrator – Existing Document Method

Maybe you’ve already made your design and then realized that you need to add bleed to it. Here’s how to add bleed in illustration after your artwork is already made.

Go to File and find Document Setup.

how to add bleed in Illustrator to existing document

You will see a dialogue box where you can add your bleed values. Remember! Click on the chain icon, which is on the right side to make sure you’re adding bleed to all four sides. 

how to add bleed to existing document in Illustrator

Click OK and you’re done. You can see a red margin surrounding your project to indicate the bleed margin. 

“Bleed.” It seems as complex as chess but once you learn the rules, it’s all easy and good.

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