The right tools for the job.

In printing, we are often faced with challenges from the types of files provided to us- and it’s not just about image resolution and color modes! In fact, it’s all about the file types and that means it’s also all about the software used to create those files.

In addition to our printing software, we use the Adobe Creative Suite for designing and laying out our projects. The big three are Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. That's not to say we can't work with your Publisher File... but if you have access to any of these programs-- these are the ones we secretly hope you design in!

So... what are these programs and what do you need to know about them? In short, Photoshop is a rastor-based program, which means each image is made up of tiny dots or pixels and should be used purely for editing your pixel-based images (think photos!). Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, however, are vector-based programs, which means that the images are built with lines and curves instead of pixels (think logos!). When it comes to supplying us with files for printing, it is important to know the differences between these three and the type of files they can create. Each has its place—but often times, one program or file type is more suitable for your particular project than one of the others.

Let’s start with the difference between Raster Images (Photoshop) and Vector Images (InDesign and Illustrator):

The real difference between the two is that although a vector has less detail, it can be resized larger infinitely without loss of quality. Vector images are far more flexible because they comprised of lines, curves, and geometric data. A true vector file can be used super small on a postage stamp or extra large on a banner, vehicle wrap or billboard-- all without any degradation of quality. Another important quality about vectors is that they can easily be converted to a raster image, but it is a one-way transfer as raster cannot be converted back to vector (so make sure you never save over your original files!)

EPS, AI and PDF files are all vector files (as long as any fonts used have been converted to outlines) and are perfect for creating graphics that require frequent resizing. Your logo and brand graphics should have been created as a vector, and you should always have a master file on hand. 99% of the time, this is the file we want to print from so if you have it on hand, send it along. If you only have a Jpeg version of your logo from Photoshop you will always be limited to how large you can print this without it becoming pixelated or blurry.

In contrast, raster images are constructed by a series of pixels, or individual blocks, to form an image. JPEGs, GIFs and PNGs are all raster images. Every photo you find online is a raster image and because pixels have a defined proportion based on their resolution (the number of pixels per inch LINK HERE TO BLOG), when those pixels are stretched to fill space they were not originally intended to fit, they distort resulting in blurry or unclear images. If you want to maintain image or pixel quality, you cannot resize raster images to become larger without compromising their resolution. As a result, it is important to remember to create and save raster files at the exact dimensions needed for the application.

So basically, we love vectors. Let’s learn about the programs that create them!