By Mark Vermeer

When designing a project for printing, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that everything you put in front of a potential customer leaves them with an impression of your business.  So you want your marketing materials to look professional so customers and prospects have a positive impression of your business.  The best way to do that is to hire a professional designer.  Designer will produce a creative and polished piece that will leave customers with the best impression of your business.  But let’s face it due to budget or timing reasons we can’t always use a professional designer.   So this article and the ones to follow will give you a few suggestions as to what you can do to make your designs look as professional as possible.

Having been in the printing business for the last 20 years, we at Jiffy Photo and Print have seen all varieties of projects with all types of problems.  These articles will sum up the most common problems we see and provide suggestions as to how to correct them.  Future articles will discuss image proportions, fonts, margins, bleeds and more.

This month the topic is image resolution.  One of the most common problems we see is people using low resolution or low quality images.  So how do you know if an image is good enough quality to print?

To start it is important to understand that there are two main categories a graphic can fall into:

HINT

If you are ever employing a designer to create a logo for you always be sure to have them design it in a vector format, some day you may want it for a sign or banner and if all you have is a bitmap image the quality may not be good enough.

  1. A Photo or Bitmap graphic which is made up of dots or pixels. These types of images have a certain number of pixels. The larger you print the image the bigger the pixels get and therefore the worse the quality of the image will be (see the difference between the 90 dpi image and the 9 dpi image below).   Alternatively the higher the resolution the better the quality as you can see in this graphic.  In addition bitmap images are not easily editable.
  2. Vector image is made up of lines, shapes, and are typically created in a program like Illustrator or Corel Draw. Because there are no square pixels only lines and shapes vector graphics can be enlarged to any size without any loss of quality. Vector images can also be easily edited or changed (for example, Change the colour of an element in the logo).

If you are dealing with photographs (bitmap images) the resolution you need will depend on what you are using your image for:

  • For the best quality you want 300 dpi to print on a press or high quality digital printer.
  • 200 dpi would be OK for moderate quality.
  • 150 dpi is good for large banners etc.,that will be viewed from a distance.
  • 72 dpi is good for displaying on a monitor or screen but not typically good enough for printing.

If you are looking on Google for a photo image to use, when you hover your mouse over the picture it displays the size in pixels at the bottom of the image.  In this example the top left image is 2600 x 1300 pixels.

You want 300 dpi so you may have the best quality image for colour printing, here is the math:

2600 pixels / 300 dpi = 8.6 inches

1300 pixels / 300 dpi = 4.33 inches

That means you can print this picture up to 8.6 x 4.33” and have a good quality image.  You can make the image smaller than that with no problem but as you start making it bigger than 8.6” wide the resolution will start to drop below 300 dpi and your image quality may start to suffer.

Keep in mind that you can buy high quality stock photo images from companies like istock.com, fotolia.com or dreamstime.com to name a few.  Also remember that when downloading images off the web you may need to consider copyright laws.

I hope you have found this helpful.  Next time we will talk about image proportions.  If you have any question regarding image resolution or other printing related topics contact Mark Vermeer at Jiffy Photo and Print, 420 Hazeldean Road in Kanata – www.JiffyPhotoAndPrint.com  or info@jiffyphotoandprint.com.  We are a full service print company with over 20 years of experience in the printing industry we have a full time Graphics Designer on staff to help you with your projects and can handle all of your printing needs from simple copies to books, flyers, sales literature, banners and small signage to trade show displays and much more.

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