How To Prepare Images For Large Format Printing

1. Calibrate Your Computer Monitor

Before beginning any type of print project, calibrate each computer monitor that will be viewing the project. This will help ensure that your printed product corresponds to what you see on your screen.

Set the White Brightness Level to 95, Black to 0.4, Gamma to 2.2, and White Color Temperature to 6500K for the best results. To ensure accurate printing results, calibrate the screens once a month.

2. Use the Correct Color Space

Using the RGB colour space to create your designs can lead to inconsistencies between the screen and the final product. This is because computers display colours on the screen using red, green, and blue (RGB) ink, whereas printers use cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK) ink to produce colour on paper. Check with your printer on this. Working in RGB is sometimes preferable, especially if you want a wider colour gamut than traditional CMYK.

Depending on your printer’s capabilities, you may need to convert your files, including Pantone spot colours, to CMYK in order to produce a more consistent print. Otherwise, your printed product may differ from what you see on your computer, potentially ruining your design.

3. Optimize for Viewing Distance

Keep the viewing distance in mind when creating large format designs. Image resolution of 300ppi is typically required for regular-sized print projects. However, the higher the viewing distance, the lower the resolution required to display a sharp image.

Large format prints that require a close viewing distance, such as menu boards or trade show display signage, should have a resolution of at least 100ppi. Prints with a longer viewing distance, such as wall wraps, hanging signage, and large banners, can have a resolution lower than 100ppi without sacrificing quality.

4. Know When to Use Raster vs. Vector

To produce a high-quality large format print, you must understand when to use raster vs. vector images in your design. Vector images can be easily scaled for large prints without sacrificing image quality, whereas raster images will appear grainy, jagged, or blurry when scaled.

Raster is only used for photos that were shot in high resolution, and sometimes for special effects that will not print unless rasterized. Otherwise, vector is preferable for any fonts and graphics in your design. Converting your fonts to outlines is also important because it avoids issues if your printer does not have the same fonts as you.

5. Incorporate Bleed

Bleed is another important aspect of any print design. Incorporating bleed means including an additional image in your design to prevent errors when the final product is cut after printing.

For most large format printing, a bleed margin of 18″ is ideal. To avoid white edges after cutting, the background colour and any graphics or images that you want to reach the edge must extend into the bleed. The rest of your design should be kept within the margin to avoid having your text and graphics cut off.

6. Choose the Right File Format

Finally, you must choose the appropriate file format. The format you require will be determined by the type of design and the specifications of the print shop. We recommend that vector and composite files be formatted in PDF, and raster-only files be formatted in TIFF or high quality/low compression JPEG. When saving files for printing, always choose to embed your colour profiles.

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