How To Use The Design Online Tool

Read our guide to learn how our free graphic design tool can help you create impressive prints.

What is Mixam’s ‘Design Online’ Tool?

This tool lets you make print-ready files using pre-made layouts, typefaces and graphics. You can upload files you’ve created via your preferred design program, but this tool is ideal for those new to printing online and those who lack design skills or don’t have the time to generate files from scratch. You can use it for items such as, but not limited to:


How do I use this Tool?

You can 'Mix and Match' your artwork. You can either:

  • Create your entire publication with the Design Tool.
  • Design covers and spine with the Tool or the inner pages; upload pre-designed pages separately. Leave any pages that don't need to be designed blank in the Editor, delete the file containing the blank pages in your Artwork tab, and upload your designed pages after closing the Tool.
  • Use the Tool to create covers, spine, and some inner page files. Design these files first, and ensure you click the 'Finish & Upload Design' button to upload your finished design to your order. You can then upload the remaining pre-designed page designs and rearrange them in your Artwork tab.

Before you start your design, enable 3rd party cookies in your browser. Most browsers do this by default, but if the editor is not working, ensure the cookies are enabled. This step will also allow you to save your work and return to it later. However, do not use the editor in Incognito Mode. You should also regularly save your work to ensure you don't lose progress.


How To Get Started

Choose your print specifications on the Instant Quote Calculator, and select 'Design Online'. Click this option to design a whole publication or just part of it. You can create just the Covers, Inside pages or the entire document. You can also access the Editor in pending orders on the left-hand side of your screen.

Upon opening the Tool, choose a 'Template Type' for your design needs. On pending and previous orders, you can also select a design option from the 'Document Settings' (tuning dials icon) inside the Editor.

  • Cover & Body: Design and upload outer and inner covers, spine (for Hardcover, PUR, Perfect-Bound), and inner pages.
  • Cover Only: Design and upload the outer and inner cover.
  • Body Only: Design and upload inner pages.
  • Spine Only: Design and upload the spine (Hardcover, PUR, Perfect-Bound only).

How do I add Pages?

The editor will open and load blank pages:

For Hardcover items, you’ll see:

  • x1 Cover Spread (Back Cover + Spine + Front Cover). The tool will replicate an open book with your cover facing up. 
  • x8 Inside Pages (Page 1 - right-hand side, x3 double-page spreads, Page 8 - left-hand side).

For Paperback items, you’ll see:

  • x2 Cover Spreads (Front and Back Covers + Spine + Inner Covers). Again, the tool will replicate an open book with your cover facing up. 
  • x8 Inside Pages (Page 1 - right-hand side, x3 double page spreads, Page 8 - left-hand side).

Add your total page number. For example, if you selected 48 pages on the Instant Quote Calculator, you’ll need 48 pages in your design. Every order will display 8 pages by default. 

Clicking ‘Arrange Pages’ in the top-left corner next to Page 4 will display all your current pages (see third image). Using the ‘+’ icon, you can add 2 single pages (1 double-page spread) at a time. Click this button on any page until you reach the total number of pages you need. Alternatively, use the ‘+2 Pages’ icon to add pages above Arrange Pages.

Hardcover Option
Paperback Option

You can also use the button on each page icon's bottom-right corner to duplicate the pages (see bottom image). This step will add two pages and copy the same content onto the new pages. We’ll automatically adjust your spine width and the cover spread to match your project, so you don’t need to do anything.


Where are the Guidelines?

All pre-made layouts are dynamic, but some design elements may not accurately appear in the same position when added. 

Ensure you position the spine text and graphics within the margins. Our design program will auto-size the spine text to match the width. However, you should ensure your spine text is central, as it may need to be adjusted. Leave 0.04" on Hardcover items and 0.02" on Paperback items between the text and spine edges. The blue dashed lines indicate the spine width and hinge.

Spine Width and Hinge Area Explanation

The shaded area represents your spine hinge area on Hardcover and PUR items. Add 0.2" to each side of the covers for Hardcover items so they bend and open easily, and position all text away from the hinge areas. However, images or shapes (including backgrounds, boxes, etc.) must extend inside the hinge area to meet the spine edge, prevent gaps between the spine, and cover the crease line.

The yellow dotted line on the inner pages represents the quiet area, and the blue line represents the bleed. Please do not place content within the quiet area. If photos are moved outside of the quiet area, they'll be automatically placed inside the bleed area. This 'snap to bleed' feature ensures that all images, background colours, and graphics that meet the edge will extend past the blue line, avoiding unprinted edges. For more details, visit our Bleed Support Page.


How do I use Design Layouts?

Turn on Expert mode when building your design to give you greater editing control.

Most elements on the design templates are editable. You can personalise layouts, add text and photos, or delete parts entirely. The layouts appear on the left-hand side of your design, and the zoom, undo, redo and save buttons are in the top-right corner. Each cover template has a category according to theme or purpose.

Tip: Press and hold your keyboard’s spacebar to move the canvas so you can easily navigate your artwork with your mouse.


How do I add Text?

You can click on any text frame to add content. In the example, we’ve added a placeholder text to demonstrate how the design can look. Remember to remove or replace all placeholder text before uploading your finished design.

Note the ‘Spine Text’ frame will place your text vertically (the text will read from top to bottom), and it will be auto-sized to match the spine width. Therefore, this frame is best suited to cover spreads. You can rotate the text using the blue button:

Tip: Press the Shift key to rotate your text in increments of 10-degree angles.

Once you open the text editor, you can add text by typing in the frame or simply copying and pasting text from an external source (Mac: CMD + V / Windows: CTRL + V). You can also change the text colour, font, size, and paragraph alignment by clicking the paragraph and selecting the Edit (pencil) button. A box with options will appear on the left, and the editor will fit your text inside the frame. You can adjust it if you need more space, providing all text remains inside the first orange dotted line.

You can also add extra text blocks, including pre-made stylised text options. You can edit and customise them, and you’ll find them in the ‘Text’ tab on the left-hand side of your screen. And like the layouts, there are separate categories for all pre-made text.

You can add page numbers automatically to all inner pages. By default, they're placed centrally but can be repositioned manually to any position.


How do I add images?

You can either upload all the images you want to print when you launch the editor in the Photos section on the left-hand side of your screen or click an image frame to insert images page by page.

You can upload image files in multiple formats except TIFF, GIF, or PDF. For optimum print quality, we recommend uploading image files in JPEG, PNG, or HEIC format.

You can upload photos from a mobile device, but we advise designing your files on the largest screen available so you can see your work as clearly and as detailed as possible.

The yellow dotted line on the inner pages represents the quiet area, and the blue represents the bleed. Please do not place content within the quiet area. All images, background colours, and graphics that meet the edge must extend past the blue line to avoid unprinted edges. For more details, visit our Bleed Support Page.


How To Upload Photos From Mobile Devices

First, click the ‘Upload Images from Phone’ button:

2. Then this step will generate a QR code that you can scan with your phone's camera:

3. Once scanned, you’ll see a prompt to open a webpage to upload your photos. Use the ‘Upload Images’ button to select and upload photos. A successful upload will look like the image below right.

4. Once you’ve selected all images and uploaded them from your phone, click the Close button to return to your design. You can then begin adding images to your print layout.

5. All your uploaded images will appear on the left-hand side in your Photos section:

6. You can insert photo frames and fill them with your images to add more images or a frame that matches your design. You will find these by clicking Photos and selecting Add Photo Frame. You can also drag and drop an image into the editor. It will be auto-placed in the image frame, and you can resize and place it inside the page.


How do I add Stickers and Shapes?

You can also add, resize and personalise creative elements like shapes, lines and stickers. You can use them to create background frames, labels, or basic layouts.

With Expert Mode switched on, you can resize all edges of a shape to fit your design. If you want to resize objects proportionally, you can hold down the Shift key on your keyboard (button on your keyboard with an arrow pointing up) whilst dragging the corners of the shape:

You can also align the objects to the middle of the page or place them centrally according to other elements inside the page (e.g. aligning a square with the edge of a text block). The Editor will display guidelines whenever you reach the central points:

Once you have the shapes and stickers on your page you want, you may need to reorder them so some will appear in front of others. You can achieve this by selecting the shape or sticker and right-clicking on it. You can then use the sub-menu to arrange the order in which the elements will appear.

You can import your designs into the editor by dragging and dropping any JPG, PNG or web images. This step is helpful if you already have a layout design that you want to add text to. Visit our How To Submit Print Files Support Page for more information.


How To Finish and Upload Your Design

You can upload the finished version to your order when you're happy with your design. 

You can always return to your design and edit it from where you left it last time. Even if you choose to upload it to your order, the Editor will save it. Use the ‘Save’ button on the top right corner of the screen to keep your design for later. Press the ‘Finish & Upload’ button after completing your design.

Remember to proof the page order and PDF version of your files to ensure your pages display as intended when you upload the design. Our advanced system will automatically check your files in addition to our print experts. Our print experts will contact you if they identify any file issues and can either make minor adjustments or advise you on how to fix them. But if you need assistance at any stage, please contact our team via chat, email or phone. Finally, click the ‘Confirm’ button.


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