There are lots of resources out there that define the two types of graphics: bitmap (JPG, GIF, TIFF) and vector (EPS, Illustrator). But rather than talk about the properties of each and how they differ, we thought we could offer some very simple guidelines that will help you understand what your graphic designer(s) need when you deliver assets to them, and hopefully dispel some of the frustrations that can arise during this process. Your designer should be able to help you with the leg work (ahem!), but this will, at the least, help you understand what is usually needed for production. Although these guidelines are most applicable for print, they can be applied to both print and web.
- Don’t Pull from the Web. If you’re creating something for print, assume that pulling graphics off the web isn’t going to work. This happens a lot when people are creating something that has vendor logos as sponsors…or something similar. Routinely, we get a bunch of images pulled from websites. This is a no-no.
- Don’t Upscale Images. You cannot make a bitmap image larger than it was originally (also called upscaling). In other words, you cannot use a photo-editing program, like Photoshop, to make a 2″ JPG a 6″ JPG and assume that will work for production. Due to the nature of bitmap images, this will result in a fuzzy, lo-res image.
- Delivery Vector Whenever Possible. If you’re ever in doubt of sizing, and you have the option of sending a vector image (EPS, Illustrator), do it. Your graphic designer can scale these to whatever size they need. One caveat: you cannot take a bitmap image, save it as an EPS file and assume that will work. You can convert vector to bitmap, but not the other way around.
When it comes to print, a lot of times people are unsure what size their images are, and commonly ask us if they’re large enough for whatever print piece we’re working on. Of course, we’re always happy to inspect and advise. But, this is some good info to keep in your back pocket. Simply find the pixel dimensions of your image (Mac users can find this via the finder at File > Get Info or by hitting command + i; windows users can find this by right-clicking on an image, selecting “Properties” and then clicking the “Summary” tab). And to be safe, you can always assume 300 for the print pixels per inch. There are instances where it’s lower, but this is a good starting point.
- [width in pixels] / [print pixels per inch] = [print width in inches]
- [height in pixels] / [print pixels per inch] = [print height in inches]
As an example, a 3000px image would end up being 10″ in print (3000/300 = 10).
Still confused? Don’t worry. We’re always here to help!