Case in point: Your typography skills are a cut above the rest, and your layouts are on a tip-top caliber. But all of these skills will mean next-to-nothing if the printed result of your designs comes back looking more of a crude product and less than perfect. And the worst part – there’s no ‘Undo’ button once the delivery box materializes.
Don’t panic. There’s a solution for it. In this article, we’ll discuss the handy checklist of the principal things you need to consider before you embark on a printing journey for your image printed mask, t-shirt or other artworks. Follow the comprehensive guides below and be a virtuoso in conjuring materials that look good both on screen and paper!
Correct File Size:
For starters, you will need two numbers: resolution and document or print size. When it comes to printing one photo per page, the size of your file must be the same as your paper size.
The next number pertains to pixel size. Its measurement falls under the resolution. The goal in printing is to reduce the pixels and make it invisible to the naked eyes. The process will involve maximizing the resolution beyond the settings on the camera which typically ranges from 72 or 150 PPI (pixels per inch), depending on the unit and manufacturer.
If you’re printing on an inkjet printer at home, your resolution should fall between 240 and 480 PPI if you’re using matte or glossy paper, or 180 and 240 PPI for a textured or regular paper.
For image resolution, it’s crucial to double check the resolution of your imagery before printing it. It means not only checking the resolution of the photos in your design but also the resolution you save in your final draft. You need to keep items for at least at 300 DPI (dots per inch) or more. You can scale down an image if you like.
It’s wise to avoid enlarging photos for more than 20% of their original size. Changing the size of images in your document also alters your image’s output resolution. It applies in particular for large-sized brochures, flyers, and advertorials with photo-quality images. However, if you’re printing on canvas, you might need at least 100 DPI.
If you include graphics in your print layout, make sure their quality is sufficient for printing. High-resolution graphics will look crystal clear and sharp when you go to press while low-resolution images, by contrast, will produce pixelated and blurry print results.
A color is the blood life of every print process. Having a basic knowledge about the primary color rules for printing will help you to create layouts with confidence.
You should ‘always’ set CMYK color mode in your print designs. CMYK refers to the four ink colors that you typically use in four-color printing namely; Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Key or Black. Every color in your design will come out from the combination of these four inks.
And no matter what you do, do not set your print documents in RGB (Red, Green, and Blue) color mode. Or if you’re working in an RGB file, be sure to export the final print-ready file as CMYK. RGB is only suitable for layouts in digital format on screen or online views.
The foolproof way to send your file is to send it in a PDF form. The majority of print shops accept other formats, from Photoshop documents (.psd) to packaged InDesign Files (.indd) up to Illustrator files (.ai). Some even take high-resolution JPEGs although it’s not the usual preference among printing shops.
Include a Bleed:
A print-ready file that doesn’t have a bleed is one of the most common problems that weary printers encounter. Make no mistake and make sure to export your print-ready file with bleed. If you export to a PDF format, you need to check the option in the ‘Export’ window for bleed inclusion.
The most common issue you might encounter with printing is hitting the right size for fonts. You need to get the font size right because no matter how well-designed and pretty your document is if it’s fonts are too small or too large to read, it’s a turnoff for the readers.
If you’re going to create a layout for a book, it’s feasible to use fonts with small size, but if you’re going to make it on a flyer, to make sure you seize and keep the attention of a casual reader through optimizing the size of the texts.
The best way to check if you’re using the correct font size is to print out layout samples at actual size and ask your friends to look for it. You might have a perfect 20/20 vision, but that 12 pt font size could be harder to read for someone else.
You also need to give equal attention to the ‘weight’ of the typeface. Is it faint and too thin on print? Do you need to set the header in Bold or SEmiBold to make it visible? Will an Italic weight draw the eye of the reader to something important?
The last step, finally. Embedding linked images into your document is equally important to the rest of the process. You must insert the images into your documents before sending it, in case the print shop will need to open your file for some reason. Doing it will prevent losing the pictures on their end.
Takeaway and About Guest Author:
Every fruitful and efficient print project for your image printed mask, shirts or even flyers should always start with a press-ready and well-organized design file. Making sure that your files are in proper order can help you avoid any unforeseen problems or delays. Follow the following guidelines above, and you’re ready to go.
Sabahat Akhter is the Project Manager for leading printing companies producing promotional advertising products. She has experience in Data Management and Products Quality Assurance. QA and large scale production workflows are her expertise.