How many times have you had to send photos to the company producing your brochure, only to be told they are not suitable, or to be disappointed with the final result?
I would guess you’ve experienced this more than once.
There are a number of factors that will determine whether your images will give you a good result, but the easiest to look out for are the pixel dimensions.
Photographic images are made up of pixels, and different reproduction processes require different numbers of these pixels per inch – this is known as image resolution.
If the image resolution is too low, you end up with jagged edges and a overall lack of clarity.
Knowing the required image resolution, and the physical dimensions of the image when it’s printed, means we can check the image’s suitability in advance on any computer, without the need for specialist software.
Below are some guide dimensions based on ‘A’ paper sizes.
Litho printing (on a printing press):
If your image is going to be printed full page (edge to edge), you will need to add a little bit extra on the dimensions for bleed.
So, you know how big your image needs to be, how do you find out how big it actually is?
Sadly, at the time of writing this article, there is a problem with the Apple’s Mavericks OS not showing image dimensions properly – and as a diehard Mac user you’ve no idea how much that pains me.
Most of the photos you will supply for your brochure will be JPEGs. If your photos were obtained from a library such as iStock, or were commissioned from a photographer, you won’t have much control over their quality. But, if you are taking the photos yourself, you can make sure you are getting the best results possible by setting your camera’s JPEG quality to its highest setting.
Lower quality JPEGs use less storage space, but they give a poor result by professional print standards. People often talk about “JPEG compression”, but this is a misleading term as JPEG achieves its small file sizes not through compression, but by permanently removing image data which is why low-quality JPEGs will always give low-quality results.
Following these guidelines on image size and JPEG quality will go a long way to improving the end result. But if you’re taking your own photos, don’t forget the two things that can’t really be improved down the line – composition and lighting.
On a PC, simply open Windows Explorer and the image dimensions are available by switching to ‘Content’ view. There are other ways of viewing the dimensions in Windows Explorer, but I think this is the easiest.