Written by Super User.
Download our File Preparation Guide HERE
Our quick file preparation guide:
- Save your files at 300ppi (pixels per inch) and the correct print size you are ordering (e.g. 8 x 10 inches at 300 ppi)
- Save your files as .jpeg (our software only accepts .jpeg files)
- Colour space sRGB
- Colour mode RGB 8 Bit
- Keep any important detail (such as borders, text, faces) at least 5mm away from each edge of your print. This will help allow for movement as the paper travels through the exposure section of the printer. (Read more on 'bleed').
Some important topics we will be covering are:
- Colour management - what is it and how should I be applying it to my workflow?
- Why do my prints look darker than my screen?
- What colour space should I be using?
- What file format should I be sending my files in?
- What is bleed?
- Do I need to prepare my files differently according to the medium I am printing on?
- How do I resize my prints?
- How do I order a custom size print?
Colour management - what is it and how should I be applying it to my workflow?
- Getting the correct representation of your images is essential and starts by having a correctly calibrated monitor
- Monitor calibration is required at least once every month in order to limit potential colour shifts
- It therefore makes sense to purchase a monitor calibration device.
- A correctly calibrated monitor will be to a standard that involves 3 target values including White Point, Gamma 2.2 and a Luminance value that controls brightness
- This creates a reference point from which all colour values can be adjusted if required. We can then customise your monitor so you receive the results you desire from your prints
- We offer all our customers a free monitor calibration support service - call us on 07 3426 8200 and select line 1 for more information!
Why do my prints look darker than my screen?
- Be aware that the monitor will always appear brighter than the print. This is because of the way the human eye responds to the transmissive light from your monitor and the reflective nature of the print
What colour space should I be using?
- Our preferred colour space is sRGB
- The reason is that most of the sRGB colour space is printable across a range of devices and our traditional photographic printing machines print in this colour space
- To maintain consistency throughout our product range and workflow we print all our products using this colour space.
- It is a smaller colour space which minimises errors with regard to colour values changing from device to device
- Even though the sRGB gamut is smaller than Adobe RGB, this does not necessarily translate to a loss of tonal range between black and white, because it is image dependent.
- Generally speaking the Adobe RGB colour space and others such as LAB, contain a lot of unprintable colours in the traditional photographic process which because of its archival quality is still our most popular printing method.
What file format should I be sending my files in?
- Our preferred file format is .jpeg
- A common misconception is that .tiff files will achieve a higher quality print, this is not the case. If you are making drastic edits to an image we would highly recommend converting it to a .tiff format but then saving it as a .jpeg when you are ready to print.
What is bleed?
- When cropping your images it is important that you leave all important detail at least 5mm in from each edge - anything within this range may be cropped as it goes through the printer. This is not unique to our lab and needs to be considered when preparing all files for print.
- If preparing a file for one of our press products you will need to extend the document by 3mm on each edge as this will be physically cut off when the print is trimmed
Do I need to prepare my files differently according to the medium I am printing on?
Tips for producing images on different mediums
Canvas (low contrast medium):
- A contrast adjustment is almost always required. Be careful however because if the blacks already contain a lack of detail they will almost certainly print with no detail. Sometimes just adjusting the highlights is enough to lift the image.
- In general across all the media surfaces, if you require a solid background colour make sure that the colour values are correct in the editing program, because the inkjet printer will pick up the finer colour values more so than the traditional photographic printers. This is particularly evident on higher contrast inkjet photographic papers such as Premium Lustre and Gloss papers.
- has a high white point which means it holds good detail in the shadow areas. It is a soft cotton paper with a smooth surface.
Aquarelle Rag and Enhanced Matte papers:
- Have a slightly lower white point so adjusting the highlight detail accordingly can be important for some images. Aquarelle Rag is a textured paper that reproduces artwork well.
Premium Lustre and Gloss:
- These papers are higher in contrast than the art papers, so making sure you have adequate detail in your shadows and highlights is important, otherwise you may have “blocked up” shadows and “blown out” highlights.
Chromaluxe (aluminium - high contrast medium):
- Particularly suited to highly saturated images. Often landscapes are reproduced effectively on this medium.
Metallic Paper (true photographic process):
- The paper has a slight brown tinge to it. This is the nature of the metallic surface that enables a slightly 3D look. It is particularly good for highly saturated images.
How do I resize my prints?
How to resize your images in photoshop:
- Using the crop tool, create a new crop preset entering your print dimensions in inches at 300 ppi (e.g. If you were printing a 5 x 7 you would crop it to 5 inches by 7 inches at 300 ppi)
- Using the ‘image size’ dialog box (found under ‘image’ heading) - check the ‘resample image’ box, enter 300 pixels/inch as your standard for print, and enter the width or height of your image. Be sure to keep the ‘constrain proportions’ box checked otherwise it will distort your image, select ok and your image will then be resampled to thesize you have entered
- You can set up actions in photoshop to batch resize whole folders of images to save time
- Correct file sizing = Faster file transfer via the internet + Greater control of your resampling method
How do I order a custom size print?
- Files of non-standard sizes which are not listed on our price list will be charged as the next standard size up
- If you want to order a print size not offered in our software you will need to size your image to the dimensions you require and ‘extend the canvas’ in photoshop to to a standard size offered online (this will add extra white or black around your image). You will then receive your photograph with extra white to make up the size. If you require this to be trimmed please specify in the special instructions section of your order. A trim charge of $1 per print will apply.