Print submission guidelines
Please follow these simple guidelines to avoid any possible misunderstandings and delays with your print project.
Resolution and detail
DO NOT RESAMPLE YOUR PRINT FILES TO 300dpi or some such. The BEST approach actually would be to leave your image at the resolution it was created at (by a scanner or by your camera or whatever).
The upper limit on resolution, at size, should be 600dpi.
Example: lets say you photograph with a 24megapixel camera. The files coming out of it would be something like 6000 pixels by 4000 pixels, or 20″x13.333″ at 300dpi (or 25″x16.666″ at 240dpi and so on).
If you would like your print to be 40″ wide, simply set it to 40″ wide in Photoshop’s Image Size dialog – the height then would be 26.66″ and the resolution 150dpi (make sure to uncheck “Resample” checkbox within the Image Size dialog window – in other words let resolution follow the dimensions). Save it and send it!
Image size & borders
When asking for a print of a particular size we require you to provide the following information:
a) width and height of the image (ie. print area that gets inked). Please make positively sure that the image in question is actually proportional to dimensions you are giving us!
You could also instruct us to make it X amount of inches wide or high, and let the other dimension follow.
b) trim size – dimensions of the piece of paper that will hold your print image. Alternatively, you can also specify just the border width, for example 3″ all around; or 2″ top and and sides and 2.5″ at the bottom, &c.
Prints where the image goes all the way to the edge of the paper are typically called full-bleed prints (bleed is the part that gets trimmed off). If your submitted print image contains the bleed area – you should let us know so we can trim it down accurately.
Tiff and PSD (Photoshop native document format) are the best ways to save your images. Avoid, if possible, any lossy compression formats, such as Jpeg. Photoshop fully supports PDF format, but generally speaking you should be using PDFs only for documents containing vector artwork.
Transferring us the files
Best way to send in your work is by using free online service www.WeTransfer.com – it’s fast, free and does not require an account. Direct sharing with Dropbox works well too.
If you are creating artwork specifically for this printing project, consider using AdobeRGB1998 color space – it is widely supported and matches printer color gamut the best.
Otherwise, leave your color space as it came out of your camera or scanner. DO NOT convert your images to CMYK just for printing, but if your artwork was created in CMYK in the first place, leave it at that. Make ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY SURE that an ICC color profile is embedded with the image. (There’s a checkbox in Photoshop’s file save dialog window that lets you do just that. Make sure that it is checked!)
DO NOT, under any circumstances, convert your images to a printer- / print media-specific color space.
If you are submitting BW images for printing, please consider using grayscale gamma 2.2 for your images, and make sure to stay with 16bit workflow.
Likewise with wide-gamut synthetic color spaces such as ProPhoto or WideGamutRGB – 16bit/channel workflow is much recommended if you prefer to work this way.
If you are sending images that have large areas of flat tones, and you need an exact color match – the best way to go is to specify a Pantone color that is closest to your desired tone.
Images without embedded color profiles would have to be sorted out before we can get to printing them.
If you don’t have the necessary knowledge to follow or understand the above guidelines, don’t despair – we can help. However, please understand that we cannot provide this assistance for free – budget for a file preparation fee which is $50.00 per print project.
Best practices for preparing your images for printing – continued (more of a theory angle here, feel free to skip)
Although traditionally 300dpi resolution is considered to be a baseline for print imaging, this is somewhat outdated information in 2022 and should be considered a lower margin if you are after exceptional prints. A modern high-end inkjet machine can easily deliver 50%-100% more of discernible detail – which is a major advantage when attempting to reproduce images with important, tiny features – such as etchings, fine ink drawings, watercolors, or even some oils and pastels.
So if you are after a supremely detailed print, aim for 450-500dpi of resolution at size. It’s harder to see improvements past that point, but if you are absolutely, positively in need of maximum perceived detail, consider setting up your files to printers’ native resolutions, which are 600dpi or 720dpi, depending on a brand. This is particularly important if your artwork contains text.
And, obviously – the above does not mean that you should just open your image in Photoshop and upsample it to 600dpi: you’d actually have to capture your image at that resolution.
Next important subject is bit depth. Vast majority of images you interact with online are full color, 24bit images – that’s combined Red, Green and Blue – so each individual color channel is represented with 8bit, or 256 distinct shades per channel. Within RGB context this blends together into 256 * 256 * 256 = approx. 16.7million of distinct colors possible, which seems like a lot and is generally sufficient for a vast majority of print projects. Except the very dark images. Or the very light. Or the images that have looooong transitions of a same basic hue, like certain types of skies. Or the photos that had been exposed incorrectly but you would still like to salvage them, and so on. 8bit workflow starts to fall apart in these edge cases, and it might make sense to switch to 16bit/channel. The files are going to be twice the size but if you are determined to avoid compromising on print quality, 16bit worklfow is the way to go.
So far we covered resolution and bit depth, and the remaining pillar of high-fidelity printing is color gamut. As of 2022, the most appropriate color space for making gorgeous prints is AdobeRGB1998 – it just happens to match the maximum color gamut of modern pigment inks the best. Of course, you can still continue using sRGB – just be aware that high-end machines are capable of printing colors that are far outside of range that sRGB specification can contain, so you might be missing out on vividness (if that is your goal). The color spaces with gamut wider than AdobeRGB are perfectly fine too – just remember to maintain a 16bit/channel workflow through out the entire project.
About using wide-gamut color spaces – such as ProPhoto, WideGamutRGB and others. As the name suggests, wide gamut spaces allow for some very, very zany colors. Sounds good, right? It’s like if you could go to a store and pick up a 48″ long ruler for exactly same money as 12″ ruler. Makes sense to grab the longer one since it’s such a great deal, except if you need to make a 8×10″ drawing, working with that ginormous thing is going to be lot less productive than using a small, handy little ruler (yes I am aware of a high joke potential with this metaphor). It’s kind of like that with wide gamut color spaces. In other words, use them only when there’s actual need for a gamut this large.
About CMYK color. Working with process color has many advantages, discussing most of them would be quite outside of the scope of this quick write-up; so I’ll be brief: these advantages do not translate well to high-fidelity inkjet printing. Don’t do it.
Of course if your artwork is being prepared for a print publication, and you’ve been using CMYK color right from the start – that is totally fine, and we can handle your images properly. But if the goal is to maximize color fidelity, consider sticking with RGB. LAB color is fine too, just remember to stick with 16bit/color, just as with B&W images.