Times are changing. Everybody is getting better at managing their digital life. You can see it everywhere. People communicate via email, text messaging and cell phones; there are less things in our mailbox, and our homes no longer have piles of newspapers and other paperwork to constantly manage.
Folks are also creating a lot of digital images. They are storing them on their computers, sharing them on Facebook, Flickr, or in blogs and emails, and they are trying to use them to save a little money.
When a digital image is called for-to submit to a contest, display on a website, or otherwise present it for viewing on a computer, people often have a jpeg from a picture they took on their digicam, cell phone, or even DSLR camera. Good enough, as long as you took a reasonably clear picture to begin with. When people these days want to reproduce a piece of art or old photograph, they are tempted to do the same thing. The issue: a printed reproduction should be very faithful to the original piece, something achieved with a high resolution good quality digital image.
Here’s the truth as it stands with todays technology. Next year may be different, as things change quickly, but in 2012 there are a few points to remember when reproducing or enlisting a printer to reproduce your painting of grandma’s ranch, you daughter’s charcoal drawing of Dad, or that heirloom -type of old photograph you inherited from great uncle Jack:
1) It is better to get your piece scanned by a professional in the field, a digital printmaker or print shop or photo lab-and not by you or someone you know with a digital camera or iPhone, unless he/she/you has had experience working with quality digital printing.
2) If you hire someone inexperienced to capture your piece by way of a digital camera or cell phone, or you do it yourself, you should be aware of the requirements necessary to end up with a good quality print.
- High resolution means the image file should be 300 dpi (optimum) at the size you wish to print, or 150 (minimum) at the size you wish to print. *
- The digital image should not be fuzzy or blurry
- the digital image should look reasonably like the anticipated end result
- the digital image should be color managed, with an embedded color profile. *
3) If you hire someone or do it yourself, there are also some don’ts you must remember
- Don’t make the image file bigger by adding more dpi or making the dimensions bigger.
- Don’t make a bunch of adjustments to the image in photoshop unless you have a color managed workflow* and understand how to adjust it in a non-destructive manner
- Flatten photoshop files
- files should be the printed size (100%) at 300 dpi for best results (150 dpi at 100% ok)
- File has been cleaned up (no scratches, dust or goobers)
- File has been cropped to just the desired image
- File is saved in RGB (for best color results use Adobe(1998)RGB)
- File is either tiff (best) or highest quality jpeg(choose largest file option)
*if you don’t know what that means, see number 1 (above).