DIY Graphic Design — When you order printing, blurry logos and pixellated text caused by low-resolution graphics scream amateur. And that makes you seem like you don’t know what you’re doing within your business. No matter how much you pay for your printing, you could still end up with a sloppy look if you start out with the wrong kind of graphics. Your company’s image is on the line.
Designers and Printing Specialists know how to produce a file that will print perfectly. But, knowing the right resolution is not the key to the sharpest-looking graphics.
Many people know that 300 dpi (dots per inch) is a “good” resolution for printing, and it is a good amount of resolution if you are printing only photographs. But, if you want all your graphics (such as logos and text) to print crisply, (and of course you do!) then you need to use vector-based graphics along with those 300-dpi photos.
With vector graphics, resolution is not an issue. Vector drawing programs or page-layout programs create layout files that retain all shapes as mathematical calculations, circumventing the need for choosing an output resolution amount. (Of course, photos placed into a vector drawing program or page-layout program still need to be 300 dpi.) Creating a press-ready pdf from a drawing or page-layout program correctly keeps all graphics as crisp as possible throughout the printing process. Vector graphics can be enlarged infinitely without pixellation, continuing to be sharp and crisp.
Photo programs like Photoshop were not intended to create vector graphics; these are best when working with bitmap graphics. Bitmap (or “raster”) graphics are made up of pixels in different colors and shades. All objects are drawn with pixels, or little squares, even if it’s a round letter or shape.
Try not to create your final PDF print file in Photoshop. If you must use Photoshop to create it, and your layout contains a logo, lines, shapes, photos and text, creating a 600 dpi PDF file will help it to print more crisply. However, at that resolution, you may have created an enormous file that is difficult or time consuming to transfer to your print provider. And, at more than 300 dpi, photos can become oversaturated, printing darker than expected.
Although it is not recommended, it is POSSIBLE to make your final PDF from Photoshop and still retain vector text, and here are the PDF Setting Instructions that explain it. If you have transparency in your file, it is highly recommended that you flatten your art work to avoid color issues when printing. But, to preserve vector text, you MUST NOT flatten your work before creating your pdf. This is one reason why setting text in Photoshop is not the best option.
A good use for Photoshop is to optimize any photos for your layout: change them to CMYK, adjust their brightness, their size, and, of course, their resolution to 300 dpi at the size they’ll be printed. Photoshop also has many other advanced functions, filters and effects. Next, we recommend to then place those nicely adjusted photos into a drawing or layout program to create your final PDF for printing.
Create your final PDF for printing from a drawing program or a page-layout program. This will keep file sizes small (depending on what photos or graphics have been placed into the file) and keep vector-based graphics in tact. Use one of the following programs, or one like them:
Drawing Programs: Illustrator, Corel Draw
Page-Layout Programs: InDesign, Quark
Here are some other programs that are NOT recommended to create a final PDF for printing. These programs are not usually stable enough to retain all fonts or graphics correctly:
All Microsoft Office Programs such as Word, Publisher, Excel, Power Point, etc.
To get instructions on exactly how to save a pdf file for printing from Illustrator, InDesign, or Photoshop, just contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to help!
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