In my function as artwork supervisor at Nexcards Premium Business Cards, I see every manner of artwork, from the sublime to the …not so sublime. I check the specifications of incoming artwork to make sure it complies to our pre-print guidelines. We check sizing, bleeds and safe zones, color spectrum and resolution among others. Here we discuss image resolution, what it is and why it’s important.
CMYK is the color spectrum preferred by most commercial printers. Indeed most won’t accept RGB colors at all. Think of a color advertisement in one of the finer magazines. This CMYK image is composed of thousands of tiny dots of color. Get in close with a magnifying glass and you may be able to discern them. These dots of color are Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and black in 100 levels of intensity for any and all combinations of colors. At common reading distances these color dots converge to display the full depth and color of the spectrum.
But color fidelity alone will not produce good results on a printed work. The resolution must be of a certain number so the resulting imagery is smooth and crisp. Most commercial printers have agreed on 300 dpi (dots per square inch). So if these color dots (actually squares) are too spread out, the eye does not discern solid color or smooth text and images. We get a fair amount of artwork that is 75 dpi, a common web resolution. That works OK in that medium but is woefully inadequate for commercial printing, whether digital or offset. Simply ramping up resolution on our end involves interpolation, a manipulation of the pixels where the program attempts to fill in the missing dots. This works satisfactorily on small incremental increases, say 275 dpi to 300 dpi. Nothing can be done after the fact to make a 75 pdi file into an acceptable press quality work.
So, remember to pay attention to resolution throughout the designing stages. Any image brought into your piece should also be 300 dpi. Beware of large size increases of imported photos or other images such as logos. Most bitmap and other common image types don’t take kindly to this, even though it may still look OK on your monitor. So keep re-sizing to a minimum.
You can set your resolution in your graphic software. If you can’t, that software is probably not going to give you a result that will print well.
Here you can find Nexcards specifications.
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