I’ve put together a quick guide on supplying images for artwork to help ensure your finished design looks as crisp and sharp as possible when it comes back from the printer. The last thing you want is your design to be let down by images that look as though they were created for a Commodore 64 screen! It’s so easy to avoid, however I still notice it quite often on posters and banners, especially at exhibitions and festivals I’ve attended. Your designer should warn you if a file is not of good enough quality before sending to print and this guide should help you to understand.
I would strongly advise against grabbing images directly from the internet, in addition to the potential issue of copyright infringement, these images may also not look as good as they do on screen when they are printed. This is especially noticeable when printing fairly large posters or banners and the image or logo has been blown up – imagine trying to stretch something the size of a stamp up to A4 – the quality is going to suffer. The images below compares a 300 dpi image (standard print resolution) and a 72 dpi image (standard screen resolution) to show the difference in quality you would expect if these images were printed at the same size.
Above. This is what we want! At 300 dpi your image will print crisp and sharp. Edges will be smooth and not pixelated.
Above. This is what we want to avoid! At 72 dpi your image will print blurry. Edges will not be smooth and will be pixelated.
Therefore when supplying an image always send in the highest resolution you possibly can, even if this means using a file-sharing website. Quite often when you email an image from your phone or desktop it will compress the attachments – uncheck this option and where possible send full res files.
SUPPLYING FILES IN THE CORRECT FORMAT
Images should be supplied in a TIF or JPEG format, these are pixel based files. Logos and other icons are best supplied in EPS (Encapsulated Postscript), AI (Adobe Illustrator) or SVG (Scaleable Vector Graphic) file format, these are vector based files. By supplying your logo as a vector it is possible to scale the logo to large sizes without any loss of quality whatsoever. The person who designed your logo should provide you with a vector version. The image below compares a pixel circle on the left and a vector circle on the right, if we were to zoom in on the pixel circle we would see it is built up of lots of square pixels, whereas the vector one is a smooth path.