Creativity Corner: Priceless Pointers for Producing Print-Ready Artwork

Creating print-ready artwork is not always as straightforward as you expect it to be, but if you follow a few useful pointers and tips from those that deal with the issue on a daily basis, you can soon rise to the challenge.

Novices guide

If you are planning on taking your artwork to a local print shop and are a bit unsure or confused about how to present it to them, here is a look at your choices of format.

You will probably find that a fair number of commercial printing operations are entirely comfortable with receiving artwork in almost any common format, including Word and Microsoft publisher as well as many of the commonly-available graphics packages.

Unless you specify differently, they will then set to work on your artwork using the format it is provided in and will normally raise an extra charge if they have to amend or tidy up your design in any way, so that is ready to be professionally printed.

Understanding different formats

Plenty of us will probably be familiar with GIF or JEPG format as these are most often the default option for many images that are available on the internet for downloading.

It is not necessary to understand all of the differences between a GIF or JPEG format as they collectively come from a graphics construction process known as Bitmaps which is more important to know.

You should however be aware that the GIF format does present limitations when it comes to printing, mainly due to the fact that GIF’s are primarily designed as a format for viewing on a screen rather than being printed.

Bitmap images consist of very small dots known as pixels which are constructed of a specific size and this means that when you come to try and resize your image, you can soon lose definition and create distortion in the quality because you are adjusting the pixels from their original size.

Best way to resize

You can always arrange to initially print the source picture yourself at home if you have a good quality printer, so that you get a good idea of how the artwork will look.

You will generally discover that many GIF images on the web are set at a fixed 72 pixels per inch (ppi) which does present a problem, as you will need a higher resolution of 300 ppi in order to get a really clear image.

This is why most images you download from a website are rendered virtually useless for printing purposes as they are pixelated, which is a more technical term for blurry and fuzzy but no less frustrating.

There is little point trying to resize a GIF unless you plan to make it smaller than the original dimensions and the best graphics format for printing are EPS, JPEG and TIF. Also try to ensure that your image is presented for printing at its actual original size and is at 300 ppi.

There are a few other technical issues that you may want to become familiar with if you are presenting artwork on a regular basis such as the use of CMYK for full colour printing and whether you need to create a document which allows you to achieve a full bleed, which means an image that does not have a white border around it.

You can also use this newly acquired technical knowledge to produce better quality artwork for yourself using your home printer.



John Sollars started his company in 2002 and has watched the printing industry evolve over time. With a passion for writing and for helping people, he likes to share what he has learned over the years. Look for his illuminating posts on many websites and blogs.

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