Image Resolution and Stock Photography

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They say a picture is worth...

Image resolution is the measurement of how many pixels fit into one inch. In commercial printing, pixels are often referred to as dots. The higher the resolution, the more pixels or dots. The more pixels, the sharper the image will be. We therefore recommend resolution of 300 dpi (dots per inch) for the sharpest looking results. Images at less than 300 dpi resolution can appear fuzzy, grainy, jagged and blurred.

Computer monitors generally have a resolution display setting of 72 dpi. Many website images are created as low resolution (72-96 dpi) GIF or JPEG files. This resolution is good for quick transmission over the Internet, but cannot be used in commercial printing. Do not save images or graphics from a website to use in your print project unless the resolution is 300 dpi.

 Image of images.Merely changing a 72 dpi image to 300 dpi will not improve image quality. Resolution can only be improved by recapturing the image at a higher quality setting or by decreasing the image size. If you have a JPEG image, it is best to save it as an EPS or TIFF file.

Digital camera images and scanned images are typically saved as RGB color images. In order to commercially print those images on a four-color printing press, all RGB images need to be converted to CMYK.

Sometimes you will use images purchased from a stock photography store. When purchasing these images, consider what size the image will be in your design layout and purchase appropriately. If in doubt, overestimate the size you will need. Purchase images as CMYK color images.

Note: When using stock photography, determine at the time of your purchase whether the image is royalty-free or rights-protected.

Royalty-free images are purchased images that can be used as many times as you want and for almost any purpose. Royalty-free images are typically less expensive than rights-protected images, however you have no control over others’ use of those images.

Rights-protected images are purchased for a specific use. Cost varies depending on how the image will be used (circulation size, production medium, etc.) and cannot be used in any other way without permission. A certain level of exclusivity is usually guaranteed with the purchase of rights-protected images.

If you have any questions related to scanning, digital photos, purchased photos or other captured images and their impact on commercially-printed items, please send our experts an email. We are here so you can get your job done!

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