HOW TO ENSURE HIGH-QUALITY PRINT FILES
So, you’ve finally made that design that’s going to turn heads and spark imagination in anyone who sees it. That’s great! The next step now is getting your design printed. Despite how easy printing may sound, there are many variables at play that can ultimately make or break your project if you aren’t careful.
If you’re struggling with getting your image printed without distorting it or reducing the quality, you’ve come to the right place! Today, we’re going to break down some of the essential things you need to know to ensure your projects are printed the way you want every single time.
Let’s dive in!
WHAT’S THE BEST IMAGE FORMAT FOR PRINTING?
PDF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, what does this all mean? For the uninitiated, formats may seem like something that is easily transferable from one project to another. As far as you can see on your computer screen, there is no discernible difference between the file types except for how your computer decides to open them.
However, there are small data differences that happen between each different file type. For example, JPEG images are recompressed whenever they are saved, leading to a drop in image quality if it’s saved from computer to computer.
So what’s the best format for printing? Typically PNG and TIFF images are the best for printing because of their superior compression systems. PNGs allow for transparent backgrounds that are great for logo designs, and TIFFs lose no quality when printed.
PDF files are best for printing document files because they retain formatting information across computers, allowing them to be printed the way they were intended.
RGB & CMYK: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Now that we understand the importance of file types, it’s time to look at colour spaces and how they can affect your project. There are 5 types of colour spaces in general, but there are 2 that most designers work with: RGB and CMYK.
RGB (red, green, and blue) is a colour space created to allow images to look the best on computer and television screens. CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) is used for printing. Before you head to the printers, it’s important to make sure you’re working in the CMYK colour space to ensure the colours you want are represented in the final product.
IMAGES & VECTORS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?
Now let’s get into the differences between vectors and raster images.
Most images are raster images. Raster images are created using thousands of pixels in different colours that ultimately creates the image. You can actually see the pixels when you zoom in closer to the project. Because these are made from pixels, you can run into a problem if you are upscaling your image to be larger than its original size.
If you’re planning on using a raster image, please make sure images are at least 300 PPI (pixels per inch) to ensure they’re the highest quality possible.
Vector images are unique in that instead of pixels, vector images are created using shapes plotted along a mathematically generated path. Because it’s not using any pixels, it doesn’t lose any quality when it’s resized. Vector images are an excellent choice for printing logos, text, and line images like blueprints.
YOUR PROJECT: WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?
Now that we’ve taken a look at some of the basics you need to know about file types, colour spaces, and image types, the next step is to set your project up for success at the printers.
For any project you need to be aware of how and where your image will be printed on the page so it’s never cut off or distorted during the printing process. One of the ways designers can do this is by creating bleeds and margins.
WHAT ARE BLEEDS & MARGINS?
Bleeds are used when you want an image to “bleed” over the edge of your print. Without a bleed, there’s a possibility your print can have a thin white space between the edge and your image. When you’re creating your design, please ensure your bleed is at least 0.125″ on all sides of your print.
Margins are the spaces between your image and the edge of the printed page. By making sure your image is within the margins, you can help protect it from being cut off by the page’s edge during the printing process.
WHAT KIND OF PAPER DO YOU NEED?
The type of paper you use can make all the difference to your project! Paper can come in a variety of sizes, weights, and coatings. The type of paper you use can make a difference in how it is perceived by the audience. For example, if you’re printing a business card, you may want to look at heavier paper types with a glossy finish.
If you’re not sure what type of paper is right for your project, talk to our team today, and we can help point you in the right direction!
EXPORTING BEST PRACTICES
Before you head to the printer with your order, take a look at this checklist:
- Create your project using the CMYK colour space
- Make sure your raster images are 300 PPI
- Make sure your margins and bleeds are correct for your project
- If you’re printing a PDF, make sure the document is in pages, not spreads (this makes it easier to print)
- Use the highest quality file you can
- Make sure your file types are correct for the type of image you want to print
- Zip all of your projects documents, including fonts, images, and the actual design document itself, into one accessible file
And voila, your project is ready to print! If you have any questions regarding the printing process or what you can do to make sure your project is published as you imagined it, please give our team a call today!