Frequently Asked Questions
Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing
Digital printing: Images are digitally transferred to paper using lasers, positive and negative static charges and either dry toner or liquid suspended toner particles. No plates need to be created and varying images can be transferred to paper quickly and efficiently. Digital presses differ from standard laser printers in the tight tolerances they are kept in, technologies developed in the offset world, and the graphics arts software that controls them.
Offset printing: An image is transferred, or "offset," from a plate, to a rubber blanket, to the sheet of paper where the ink is applied. Those inks can be a four color process (CMYK) or a combination of Pantone (SPOT) colors. The plate is created (using computer-to-plate technology) prior to printing and contains the printed image. Plates are created in separations for the colors being used. For example, if a 4 Color CMYK press is being used, four plates, one for each color is created. Because of set up, offset printing is intended for larger runs, with longer turnarounds.
Process Color vs. Spot Color
Process Color: This method of achieving color in printing is referred to as CMYK or four–color process. To reproduce a color image, a file is separated into four different colors: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. During separation, screen tints comprised of small dots are applied at different angles to each of the four colors. The composite image fools the naked eye with the illusion of continuous tone. Four-color process is the only method used by digital presses but can also be used in offset printing.
Spot Color: Colors created without screens or dots are referred to as spot or colors. From a palette of 14 basic colors in the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM (PMS), ink is mixed according to its own unique formula to create a wide range of colors. Spot colors are used in offset printing but not in digital printing. Due to the gamut of the 14 basic colors, some spot colors will be cleaner and brighter than if they were created in the four-color process.
Raster Graphics vs. Vector Graphics
Raster: A raster image is made up of thousands of tiny dots/pixels. Raster images work great for rendering rich, full color photographs. One major drawback to using raster images is they don't resize well. If you want to blow up a raster graphic that has been sized for the web or a small print job, it will look blurry and you will see the individual pixels.
Vector: Vector graphics are the use of geometrical primitives such as points, lines, curves and shapes or polygons—all of which are based on mathematical expressions—to represent images in computer graphics. Because vector graphics don't use dots/pixels to represent color, they are infinitely scalable with no increase in file size. They also work great with logos and simple graphics as well as selecting and printing spot color jobs.
High Resolution vs Low Resolution
High Resolution: High resolution images contain more than 300 dots per inch (dpi). If you were to take a magnifying glass and look at a picture on a piece of paper, you can see the actual dots or specs of color information that create the image as a whole. The higher the resolution, the harder they are to see because they are tight and concentrated thus creating a very clear picture. High resolution graphics are a must for printed pieces.
Low Resolution: Low resolutions images are any images less than 300 dpi. This basically means that if you were to take a magnifying glass to your image, you would see fewer specs of color in it making the picture very grainy looking because the dots are so much more obvious. Internet browsers display images at 72 dpi because the file sizes are much smaller and load faster. This is why low resolution images should be used for the web only.
*You cannot convert a low-res image to a high-res image. You must have access to the original high-res image in order to use it for print. However, you can convert a high-res image to a low-res image (sometimes called saving for web).
Is your artwork print ready?
Before sending us your artwork for printing, please make sure all of your files are print ready.
File Format: Make sure you send either a packaged InDesign file, a high-res PDF, an EPS or an Adobe Illustrator (AI) file.
Size: Make sure the size/dimensions of your file match the size to print.
Crops/Bleeds: Make sure that your artwork has at least a 1/8" (.125") bleed on all sides as well as crop marks.
Fonts: Make sure that you have outlined all of your fonts or have included them in the packaged file.
Resolution: Make sure that all photos and graphics in your artwork are at least 300dpi
Colors: Be sure to check that all colors in your file have been converted to CMYK or the proper PANTONE (spot) color has been selected.