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Create Better Graphics

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Some tips and guidelines to help you avoid ugly exhibit graphics when you start your design work.

Image Dos

  • Digital Cameras – Use high-end digital cameras that capture at least 20 megabytes of data
  • Be sure your camera is set for highest quality images
  • Licensed Images – Get the biggest file(s) available

Image Don’ts

  • Don’t save JPEGs as JPEGs.  They get worse with each generation.
  • Work from original TIFF files and “save as” the format you need whenever possible.
  • Avoid images less than 20 megabytes
  • Don’t start with ugly images, they don’t get prettier when they’re bigger
  • Forget images copied from your website or anybody else’s
  • Don’t “res-up” small image files to bigger files, they just get worse
  • Avoid images from PowerPoint or Word
  • Don’t scan from printed brochures, get the original image

Logo Dos

  • Always provide a logo as a “vector’ file format, i.e., Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand, or CorelDraw. These can be scaled to almost any size without loss of quality.

Logo Don’ts

  • Again, forget logos copied from your web site
  • And, don’t use logos from PowerPoint or Word

Better Gradients in Adobe Illustrator

Printing large format graphics with gradients made in Illustrator can produce banding effects.

But, there are some steps you can take to minimize banding:

  • Go into the “Object” menu
  • Go down to “Blend” and open “Blend Options”
  • For “Spacing” select “Specified Steps” and set the numeric field to 1000 (the maximum)

Save the file as an EPS.

  • In the EPS Options box select “Compatible Gradient Printing” under Options
  • Also select “LanguageLevel 3” for the Adobe Postscript setting.

These settings will maximize what Illustrator can do with a gradient blend.  But will not eliminate the possibility of banding for really big graphics.

Basically, if you see banding in the art on your monitor it will show up in the print.

If this doesn’t work, try Photoshop.

Create your gradient effect in Photoshop at a high resolution setting, minimum of 150 pixels per inch at final size.

Then place that image in your Illustrator document.  Some effects work better with this approach.

Color Matching

If color is critical, supply a color printout and/or PMS (Pantone Matching System) color reference for color matching.

Flattened files (usually saved as JPEGs) and files with embedded images can only be color corrected for the overall graphic.

This sometimes causes “crossover” where one color shifts while correcting for another. We cannot fix crossover without extensive digital editing time and charges.

To avoid crossover in colors, provide files in their native software format with layers and appropriate support files.  Don’t “save as” something else.


Electronic proofs of your “print-ready” files included.

Electronic proofs only confirm content not color.  Due do the lack of color calibration in between monitors, electronic proofs are not accurate for color matches.

If we create or change your artwork, you’ll get an electronic proof for approval via e-mail.

Physical proofs are provided upon request at an additional charge.

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