Visual representation is extremely important! All we have to do is look to our daily habits to know that we are a very visual society. Can anyone say that the convenience of having a camera, by way of cell phone, in our pockets hasn’t increased the number of photos we take? There was a time when everyone knew it was “just” a cell phone photo, but now our cell phones take images that are as good as, if not better, than some cameras. Features such as: auto-focus, flash, and high-resolution image sensors have made grainy, unfocused, washed-out cell-phone pictures obsolete.
You may have noticed I “bolded” high-resolution, yep did it again. That is because that is really what I want to discuss today. Resolution quality differs depending on what media you are using. If you are using images on a website then 72 dpi (dots per inch) is pretty standard. The truth is that 72 dpi looks good on a computer screen and more importantly the image file is smaller which helps it load much faster on your computer. However, if your image is printed 72 dpi will print much like those old cell phone photos, grainy, unfocused and/or washed-out.
Print needs high-resolution, print needs to be 300 dpi. Wow, that is a big difference! Yes it is, and we could get really technical here and talk about lpi (lines per inch) for various printers and ink absorption as it relates to paper quality, but here is the simplified version. Anything under 266 dpi runs the risk of printing with noticeable pixelation. Printers prefer a resolution of 300 dpi so that you are guaranteed of a sharp, detailed image and after all why would you want include imagery if the people looking at it are only going to notice it’s low quality.
There it is short and sweet. So, if you are asked if your artwork, logo or picture is high-resolution you will know the answer they are hoping for is, “yes, it is 300 dpi”.
Fun Fact: In 1938, Chester Carlson invented a dry printing process called electrophotography commonly called a Xerox, the foundation technology for laser printers to come. For years, nobody seemed to pay any interest to Carson’s invention. From 1939 to 1944 Carlson was turned down by more than 20 companies.
Hmmm? It depends on what we are talking about. Let’s take a step back. First, a color profile is a “set” of colors. This set is used for a specific purpose. For example, if it’s personal wardrobe then you might say your profile is warm or cool tones or perhaps that you are a Winter, Spring, Summer or Autumn. You would then go to the color wheel and choose the color “set” for your wardrobe based on the parameters of warm, cool or seasons.
If we are talking about printing, and we are, then we would say CMYK is our color profile for “digital” printing. Just like your home printer our digital presses operate on this designated set of colors: C-Cyan, M-Magenta, Y-Yellow & K-Black. These 4 colors are laid down in various percentages in dots and it is truly amazing that this process can create such an astounding array of colors. The human eye does not see the minute dots, it blends the dots, as well as, any white spaces and perceives a single color. Chances are that your Logo or Art is going to print as designed, and your color will be just what you expected, IF, the operator establishes the settings for your individual piece and calibrates accordingly. This takes time and cost more than simply taking the next thing in line and hitting start. If you are getting a lot of color variation then your piece is probably not being handled with the care you expect. However, if you are getting consistent quality and wonder if you could get it done cheaper you are probably going to sacrifice some of your quality for price.
Is there a way to make sure that your color profile is the exact same every single time. Absolutely! It is called pantone matching system (PMS) and it is used in offset printing. Offset printing uses the older presses that have rollers and have to be cleaned in between each run so because of the extra labor it cost more to use this type of press. So whereas you can get digital business cards in the $40-$50 range these same cards ran on an offset printer might be $120-$150. BUT, the colors are matched EXACTLY each and every print.
If you have spent a lot of time and money on designing your print job, if you have painstakingly chosen a color profile that brings that design to life, don’t skimp on the quality of your printing company.
Fun Fact: The human eye can distinguish 7,000,000 colors.