How to choose the right image for print or web

How to choose the right image for print or web

A quick guide to choosing the right image/photo for print or web

Some tips to help you decide

Following on from our last post about file formats we thought it would be useful to give you some basic information about the quality and resolution of photos for the web and in print. Firstly you’ll need to find a striking image. You might commission some photography, or you can find some really great images in any number of online directories such as iStockphoto, Getty Images, or Shutterstock. Whatever you’re using it for, the right image can make the difference between connecting with your target audience or not. If you’re buying a library image remember to check the small print; make sure you can use the image for your needs before you buy it. Don’t be tempted to use pics from a Google image search as the resolution will probably be really poor and you’ll probably be infringing copyright.

Once you’ve chosen your image, here are a few tips to get you started from a print perspective:

Select the right resolution for your use Two basic facts to bear in mind when thinking about resolution: a) Most printing uses a series of dots to create images. b) Digital photos are made up of pixels – the more pixels, the higher the resolution. The trick when selecting an image for print is to make sure that once the printer’s dot screen has been applied to the image you can’t see the pixels. Technically, the number of pixels per inch in a photo should be twice the screen ruling of the printed item, but generally speaking all you need to know is that the resolution of a high res photo for print should be 300 pixels per inch (sometimes referred to dots per inch or dpi). Remember that this 300ppi resolution must be at the size the image will be printed, so your designer might ask for a 300ppi image at, for example, 10cm x 5cm – if you take an image of this size and blow it, all you get are bigger pixels. the right resolution for print Once your image is the right resolution don’t be tempted to blow it up or you’ll start to see the pixels. Choose the image file type based on your desired use Use a .tif or .jpg file, but make sure that, in the case of a .jpg, the compression is set for maximum quality rather than smallest file size (less compression = higher quality). Make sure that the image is set to CMYK Most printing processes use CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) inks, so your images should also be set to CMYK. As always there are exceptions, but your designer or printer will be able to advise you. Make sure your image is set to CMYK

Here are a few tips to get your started from a web perspective:

Select the right resolution The resolution of images for the web is 72ppi and their size is measured in pixels rather than cm or mm. Modern websites are often responsive – meaning that they will scale themselves to fit different types of hardware such as tablets or smartphones, so if you’re providing an image for use on the web it’s worth bearing in mind that it will need to be the size of the largest viewing platform (it might seem odd, but some devices with retina screens need larger images, even though the actual screen size is smaller). the right resolution for print Both of the images above have the same number of pixels, but on a tablet with a retina screen, the image will appear smaller. Choose the image file type based on your desired use Go for a .jpg and balance quality against file size to give good download speeds. If you’re preparing a logo for web use and you need the background of the logo to be transparent go for a .png. If your logo is really simple with only one or two colours, you could try a .gif if you really want to keep the file size to a minimum (but generally .png will give better quality). If you want some more help on choosing which of these types will work best for your needs take a look at our artwork format blog piece Make sure the image is RGB Computer monitors use red, green and blue pixels to display your website, so be sure to save your images as RGB rather than CMYK. By following these simple steps choosing the right format, resolution and file type for your needs will be much easier – leaving you with the tricky bit – choosing the image that best fits your message and target audience. It might be tricky but it’s fun getting creative with imagery. If you need some help, we’re only a click away!
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