Getting your image right

The difference between web and print images
Often I get asked when designing a flyer or brochure for print “can’t you just take the image from my website”? Though it is common knowledge amongst design experts what sort of image specification is required for specific outputs, it is quite a minefield for those who aren’t in the trade. How often have you received a flyer through the door where the lovely Chinese takeaway on offer by the local restaurant looks like something you may see at Lego land?! This is because they haven’t considered the quality of image needed for printing purposes, and the output is pixilated. This means that it looks like it is made up of very blurry little squares, and let’s face it, this makes the meal look unappetizing as well as the restaurant unprofessional! Below are some easy tips to consider when you are using images for either screen use or to be printed.

Screen/web images
If your images are to go on a website or just to be viewed on screen then it needs only to be a resolution of 72dpi (dots per inch). This saves time when the image is loading online, in this instance it would be detrimental to use high-resolution imagery as people would get fed up of waiting for your website to load. Unless, of course, the image is there so people can download and print it at home, then it will need to be 300dpi ideally. Another point to remember is that images for web use need to be in RGB colour mode, as opposed to CMYK which is used for printing. CMYK images will not show up properly in web browsers. NEVER use web images for printing, especially if it is to advertise your business, it will convey a REALLY unprofessional image.

Images for printing
If your images are to be printed in any way then the most desirable resolution for them to be is 300dpi. There are exceptions, sometimes you may get away with 150dpi if you are printing very small and it is only for your children’s homework, likewise, sometimes for very large banners you’d need nearer 600dpi. If you aim for the 300dpi threshold you can’t go far wrong, but you must also check the actual size (in mm or cm) of your image. It needs to be larger than the size you want to print it at, or the same size. As soon as you start enlarging images you will lose quality, this cannot be avoided. So if you are purchasing imagery off a stock website look first at the resolution, then think about what size you want to print at as well, and ensure your picture will suffice. The colour mode for pictures you want to print should ideally be CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) as these are the colour all printers use to output your images. An RGB image will print, but the quality will be far inferior; and if you are getting something professionally printed they will insist on the files being CMYK. One last tip, when you are scanning a photo into your computer, always scan at as higher resolution as you computer can cope with and then once you have scaled your image you can shrink the resolution down to 300dpi, this means you will scan as much detail as possible.

If you are thinking of having some flyers, brochures or other marketing material designed and produced for your business why not view our print portfolio? We have experience in an array of design for print work and would be happy to provide you with a quote.