What Not To Do / Branding  / Don’t Distort the View

Don’t Distort the View

Sizing Images, Resolution and Theft

As I read through social media posts and look at many documents produced by people in all areas, from small businesses putting together images for social media, to people making their own birthday cards and invitations, it pains me to see images distorted. The person that you know and love on the front of that wedding invitation suddenly looks like they have put on a massive amount of weight.

Or maybe the image looks blurry and you can’t understand why. Or maybe you send a photograph as an image file electronically, and what comes back isn’t the bright pink you thought it would be when it’s printed.

Next time your boss asks you to make a document look nice, or you want to make your own wedding invitations…here are a few pointers of how not to do it.


Don’t Pull It Around to Make It Fit

When you put an image into a document and it doesn’t fit the way you want it to, don’t grab it on the side and pull it across to the margin. This will give people fat faces ☺ Keep your images in proportion and pull from the corner while using a constrain image command.


Lets Not Get Fuzzy

Have you ever wondered why perfectly good images on your phone don’t look great when you decide to put them on a poster or a large piece of paper? When images are captured, they are made up of millions of tiny dots, or what we now call pixels. So if you can imagine taking these pixels and blowing them up to a larger size, what you are actually doing is taking something small, spacing each pixel further apart, and making it blurry when you enlarge it. In reverse, making a large image smaller, it can also go a bit blurry, although not as pronounced, because you are making the already small pixels even smaller, and bringing them closer together.

I do a brochure for my GAA club every year, and I have to put team images into that brochure, and those team images come in all shapes and sizes, and resolutions. A trick I sometimes use, is to take the image into Photoshop, make the image really big, increase the resolution to about 600, and then reduce it back down to the size I want it to be. Its not a great fix, but for that brochure it works ok.

This is where resolution plays a part. To print an image in an ideal world, the image needs to be roughly about the size you want it to be, and it should have a high resolution. High resolution means that there should be enough pixels for the width, (or depth) of your image.

I’ll show my age here … when you print an image, high resolution is ideally 300 dots to an inch. What that means is that if your image is 1920 pixels wide, there are 1920 pixels across the top of your image. If you decide you want the image bigger you have to make sure that the pixels remain at 300 dots per inch (DPI), or pixels per inch (PPI). Equally if you want the image cropped, or to be smaller, you still have to have 300 DPI on your image. This measurement is calculated by dividing the number of dots by the desired size of your image, which gives you the number of dots per inch, and 300 is the ideal. These calculations are all in inches because it goes back to the days of metal type. Metal type was always set in Picas (a typographical measurement) and each Pica has 12 Points (which is why you set type as 10pt or 12pt etc), all determined and measured off inches.

Dots is how we used to break up an image to make it ready for the printing press. You might see in an older newspaper the dots that make up the image. The reason it was more obvious in an older newspaper was because they were usually printed on a lower grade paper, and the ink on each dot spread out more on a lower grade paper (with less fibres in it). To accommodate that spread, you would break down the images into dots that were more widely spaced. On higher grade paper the dots did not spread out so much, so the dots were closer together and therefore higher resolution.

So this is why we talk about high resolution as dots per inch. Fast forward to the modern world and we are now talking about pixels instead of dots.


Don’t Mess Up Your Colours

Have you ever had an issue where you drew up a great drawing on your computer, and maybe you put a really bright pink into it, which looked great on your computer screen, but when you went to get it printed out, it all looked really dull. The reason is because your computer screen shows you colours in RGB format, Red Green Blue, which is the colour spectrum for light, and the one your camera uses to take your images. But, when you go to print an image, It has to go into a different spectrum, that of the printing world called CMYK, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black, the four inks that are mixed together to make up all colours. That shocking pink colour is very difficult to get in CMYK, and you have to adjust your colours to get it to work.

As a designer I use a colour matching system called Pantone. Pantone gives us the specific percentage of each colour ink to use to reproduce that colour. Not everyone uses Pantone, or has a Pantone guide, but my advice is do not expect RGB to print the same way it shows up on your screen. When you are preparing your images for print, make sure you use CMYK.


Don’t Take Images from Google

It’s not ok. If you are putting an image out into the public domain, you could find yourself in serious trouble. Images on the internet are usually under copyright, which means someone else owns them and you can not use it without a permission or payment. And that goes for preparing slide decks too. Do Not rob anything from Google because you are probably stealing, you will be hurting the creator of the original image, and anyway, you don’t know what the resolution of the image is.

You are in a much better place to buy royalty free images. Royalty free images are taking a fee from you to give you a licence to use that image. And remember, don’t use an image without reading the terms and conditions of use before you buy an image.

There is also a licence called a creative commons licence under which you can get images to use, and there are sites out there that offer free images. Again, don’t use an image without reading the terms and conditions of use first.

A Quick Recap on What Not To Do…

Don’t distort your images, only resize using a constraint command to keep your images intact. Its very hard to pull back from a distorted image

Don’t blow up an image to be too big for the number of pixels you have in the image. And equally don’t size images down to be too many pixels for the size you want because that too can come out blurry.

Don’t give RGB artwork to a printer who will print in CMYK. Your fiery pink will be more of a red.

Definitely do not steal images from Google. Buy royalty free images or use the free image sites.

Top Tip

Don’t steal images from the Internet, you are most likely to be breaking the law, and worse still, hurting the creator of the original image.


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