Well let’s say you want something printed or you want something published and you think you’ve got just the right imagery to draw attention to your message.

You’re thinking: ‘This ClipArt logo that was created seven years ago still looks great, doesn’t it? It’ll look amazing on the new brochure. Right?’

Or: ‘This photo we scanned from the old photo album is lovely, everyone’s smiling so it’s perfect for the website. Right?’

Wrong!

What’s needed to successfully reproduce an image is more than just a pretty picture. It also comes down to the image size and file type.

In most cases when working with a designer – on either print or web projects – they will prefer you to supply images such as logos in vector format.

Vector files

A vector image is one which uses mathematical calculations to create shapes and can therefore be scaled to any size without loss of information. What does that mean exactly? You can grab the same logo file used on a business card and scale it to fit on a billboard without having to worry about the quality. If only everything were vector, the world would be a much clearer place.

The most common vector file formats are:

  • AI (Adobe Illustrator file)
  • EPS (Encapsulated Post Script)
  • PDF (Portable Document Format). – This one needs to be made from an AI or EPS, inserting a JPG into a PDF does not make it a vector file.

Raster files

Photos on the other hand are raster files, which use pixels to store information. Every selfie you post, every cat meme that makes you giggle, they are all generated using this method.

The number of pixels and the information they hold is determined when the image is created. Raster images can be made smaller no problem. When enlarging a raster image, however, the number of pixels must enlarge with it, resulting in a blurry, pixelated image. Which is why when you begin with bigger it’s definitely better.

The most common raster file formats are:

  • PSD (Photoshop)
  • JPG or JPEG
  • PNG
  • GIF.

Image requirements for web vs print

The required resolution of images depends entirely on where they are intended to be used.

For web, image resolution needs to be a minimum of 72ppi (pixels per inch). The higher the ppi, the clearer the image. (NOTE: 150ppi or double the pixel scale is required for retina displays.)

Images intended for print need to be at least 300dpi (dots per inch), referring to the dots of ink used by printers. If the dpi is too low, the quality of the printed image will suck.

Web and screen based images will be displayed in the RGB (red, green, blue) colour format. RGB is the way coloured pixels are added together to create various shades and tones on screen. For print, CMYK colours are used (cyan, magenta, yellow and ‘key’ or black). CMYK refers to the four ink colours used in printing, which has a limited colour range in comparison to screen-based RGB.

So in summing up, the requirements are as follows:

Web/screen: Minimum of 72ppi (150ppi prefered), RGB colour, vector or raster file (if raster, as big as you can get it).

Print: Minimum of 300dpi, CMYK colour, vector or raster file (if raster, as big as you can get it).

Of course there are always exceptions to the rules, but only when there is no other option.

  • Got a print or digital project you need help with? Contact the Scribblevision studio on 5174 9437.

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