7 Solutions to Unexpected or Awful Results from Image Files

1. Either I need new glasses, or my images all printed fuzzy. 

Before you make that optometrist appointment, make sure you sent high resolution image files to print. Images should be 300 dpi (dots per inch) at the size it will print for best print quality. Low resolution images will print grainy, pixelated, or fuzzy. Images that are enlarged past their original size, or that are not linked or embedded in your document may also print poorly.

2. My website loads slower than the line at the DMV. 

Ouch. Nothing brings you down like waiting for a slow site to load. It also causes clients to lose interest – and quicker than you think. These days, even 400 milliseconds — literally the blink of an eye — is too long, as Google engineers have discovered. And people will visit your competitor’s site if they’re faster than yours by even half that. So keep your site load quick by using web optimized image files. Use PNG and JPG files appropriately compressed for web. Avoid using TIFF files on your website.

3. All my web images have white backgrounds – how do I get rid of them? 

Keep your site looking professional, by using transparent PNG format for image files that don’t need to show their backgrounds. Use a photo editing software like Photoshop to remove the background and then save your file for web and choose the .png format with transparency turned on.

4. Why do I need a vector version of my logo and how do I get one?

Because vector images are made of points and curves, they work best for anything that needs to be enlarged or embroidered. Raster images, usually photos, are made of pixels and lose quality when they are enlarged because additional pixels are added to take up the extra room. It’s like if you made your sandbox bigger – you’d need to add more sand, so the program adds more pixels – but they don’t have any new information, so they split the difference between the neighbor pixels and cram in new pixels of a close-ish color. Logos are usually created as vector and will have a “.eps or .ai” file extension. Since these files are composed of shapes and not pixels, they are expandable without loosing quality. A good designer will be able to supply you with the vector file of your logo. You may also be able to get that version from your embroiderer.

5. My image won’t email – I think it’s too big. 

Email is wonderful – until it doesn’t work. Most email providers have a maximum email size limit. These range from 25-50Mb and are quickly eaten up by trying to send large files. One work around is to compress your image files, try sending JPG files instead of TIFFs or zip multiple files into a single compressed attachment. You can also use an online file sharing site like box.com, google drive, or dropbox.com instead.

6. My black and white image printed orange!

While it may not be a completely undesirable effect, unexpected color tints on black and white images can be caused by the color mode being set to RGB or CMYK instead of Greyscale. CMYK is the color mode for print, unless the image is black and white – then it should be Greyscale color mode. RGB is used for web image files or video and should NOT be used for print.

7. My text is printing over my photos and the font changed.

Font issues are the number one problem for files printing incorrectly. Fonts that aren’t rasterized, turned into outlines or supplied with a layout file will default to an entirely different font, causing unexpected results and often unreadable documents. In vector images, fonts should be turned into “outlines” (no longer editable text) and in raster format they should be “rasterized” (also no longer editable text) prior to sending to print. Creating a PDF of your layout will often solve this problem automatically, but don’t choose the option to “preserve editing” – you’ll want a fully flattened, rasterized PDF to ensure your fonts don’t default. 

Confused? Well, this is the world we live in. This is actually one of the things many of our clients love about working with us, they trust us to know these in and out so they don’t have to. This knowledge, combined with a printer with a real live human to talk to when quality gets out of control, is one of the hidden assets that make agencies worthwhile.