Images

What types of images will work ok?
Will my printed piece look exactly like it does on my computer monitor?
Can I put text over an image?
What are bleeds, and do I need them?
Low-resolution images don't print well.
It's best if you do the RGB-to-CMYK conversion of your images.

What types of images will work ok?
If you are scanning the images yourself from photographs, it is better to save them in either tif, or eps format. These image formats will most accurately preserve the color and sharpness of your pictures.

File formats like gif or jpg compress the picture's color and pixel resolution and this can cause color shifts and blurriness. Since jpg and gif are the most predominant image formats on the web, it's not a good idea to simply lift an image from someone's website and use it in your layout.

You should scan your images using a resolution of 300dpi at the final dimensions you intend to use, so that your colors will look smooth and hard objects will look sharp. In other words don't scan at 300dpi and then enlarge the picture by 200% in your layout program! This is another reason why you should not use images that are lifted from websites; they are probably only 72dpi in resolution and will look very blurry if printed on a printing press.

If you are using pictures from your digital camera, they will work just fine if they are jpgs; the quality of jpg images from digital cameras seems to be much better than jpgs that are used on the web. You must do the math to make sure that it is high enough in pixel resolution, however. For instance, if your camera puts out a typical image of 1280 x 960 pixels at 72dpi, you get about 17" x 13" of photograph (at 72dpi); this is the same amount of detail as an image which is 4" x 3" at 300dpi. It's therefore safe to reduce or enlarge that image in application up to about 4" x 3" in dimension.

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Will my printed piece look exactly like it does on my computer monitor?
There are some small differences. Scanners and digital cameras create images using combinations of just three colors: Red, Green and Blue (RGB). These are the colors that computers use to display images on your screen. But printing presses print full color pictures using a different set of colors: Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and BlacK (CMYK). So at some stage your RGB file must be translated to CMYK in order to print it on a printing press. This is easily done using an image editing program like Adobe® PhotoShop®.

Note: It's best if you perform the RGB-to-CMYK conversion of your images.

You will have more control over the appearance of your printed piece if you convert all of the images from RGB to CMYK before sending them to us. When we receive RGB images, we do a standard-value conversion to CMYK, which may not be perfectly to your liking. We want you to be happy, so please take the time to prepare your file properly. We cannot be responsible for sub-par results if you furnish low-res images or RGB images.

Be aware that it is possible to make colors in RGB that you can't make with CMYK. They are said to be "out of the CMYK color gamut". The translator gets as close as possible to the appearance of the original and that's as good as it can be. It's something that everyone in the industry puts up with. So it's best to select any colors you use for fonts or other design elements in your layout using CMYK definitions instead of RGB. Please read RGB to CMYK Conversion for instructions on getting the results you want.

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Can I put text over an image?

Be careful about using photographs for backgrounds. If you put text (any color) on top it can be very hard to read. So the secret is to lighten the photograph a lot - more than you may think is necessary. Use a photo editing program such as Adobe PhotoShop.

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What are bleeds, and do I need them?

Bleed is the term for printing that goes right to the edge of the paper. The way to do this is to make your document .25" larger in both dimensions. For instance, if the final size is 8.5" x 11" then make your document 8.75" x 11.25". Draw guides on the layout that are .125" from the edge all the way around. Now create your design with the idea that the layout will be cut off where those guides are....because that is precisely what is going to happen. Make sure that any photographs or backgrounds that you want to bleed go clear out to the perimeter of the document, past the guidelines. After we have printed your document we will trim off that extra .125" from all four sides of the document. The result is that your document will have color all the way to the edges of the paper.

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Low-resolution images don't print well.

Many images, particularly 72 dpi jpg images commonly found on the Internet, look jagged and blurry when printed using crisp, professional lithography on glossy stock. For best results, we recommend that your images be at least 300 dpi (dots per inch). Our "Design Tips" page has a detailed explanation of how to make sure your images turn out best.

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It's best if you do the RGB-to-CMYK conversion of your images.
You will have more control over the appearance of your printed piece if you convert all of the images from RGB to CMYK before sending them to us. When we receive RGB images, we do a standard-value conversion to CMYK, which may not be perfectly to your liking. You can use popular programs such as Adobe Photoshop or PhotoDeluxe to perform the conversions. Please read RGB to CMYK Conversion for a detailed explanation of this process.

We want you to be happy, so please, take the time to prepare your file properly. We cannot be responsible for sub-par results if you furnish low-res images or RGB images.

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