Design Tips for Clients: Image Overview

There is something that I come across a lot, on the web and with my clients. I see pages that load really slowly and my clients don't seem to understand why. Another thing that I get asked about is why an image prints fuzzy. I think I answered this question about a dozen times in the past few months, so I thought I'd write a little about it. Images aren't tricky, its just something most people aren't taught about. I'm going to change that right now!


To keep things simple, I'm going to talk about 2 kinds of images. Images for PRINT and images for WEB and the characteristics for each.


Images for PRINT:

  • High Resolution (300 dpi)
  • Usually a jpg, eps or tiff file
  • CYMK (if printing color) and sometimes RGB
  • Should never be sized UP, only sized DOWN

Images for WEB:

  • Low Resolution (72 dpi)
  • Usually a jpg, gif or png file
  • RGB color
  • Should never be sized UP, only sized DOWN 


Ok so you are thinking, this is great, but what does it mean? Let me break this down for you.

You want to keep this high for print images, for web, you want to keep it low. It will reduce the size of the file, the lower the dots per inch (DPI). What is DPI you ask? Well its how many dots you have in a square inch. The more dots, the sharper the image. 72 if enough for the web. 300 is great for print...more dense dots on the paper the sharper the image.


Image File Types:
For print stay with a jpg, eps (encapsulated post script) or tiff file. For the web go with a jpg, gif or png file. Never use a gif or png for print. They won't print well.


CMYK for print, RGB for the web. Screens read in RGB (Red, green, blue) and MOST offset printers print in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black). Some digital presses now print in RGB so make sure you ask your printer before you send files!


Size DOWN not UP:
Never ever scale images up. You will lose resolution and your images will look fuzzy. This goes for print and the web. Trust me when I tell you, save a copy of your original file before you size down. You never know when you might need to go back up.


That's it for now! If you have questions about images, feel free to contact me. I'm happy to help!