4 Steps to Preparing Your Print for Large Format Printing

One of the biggest mistakes a lot of people make is putting too much responsibility on the shoulders of the company doing the print job. A printing service can have the most advanced and high quality printing technology on the market and it will not do any good if they are supposed to be printing poorly designed images.

There are steps you can take to prepare your print for the best possible digital print job.

English: Example showing effect of vector grap...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Use Vectors as Much as Possible

Vectors are the most ideal graphic resource (especially in the commercial industry) because they can be scaled up or down without distorting their quality. The best way to understand this concept is to open any photograph in a photo editing project.

Adjust the image’s size to make it significantly bigger than it currently is. Now, adjust the image so that its size fits on the window. This will allow you to see the entire image instead of just a portion of it. What you should notice is the image because distorted and pixelated. Depending on how large you made it, you might not be able to tell what the photo originally was.

When you use vectors, you do not have this problem. You can shrink the image to the size of a button or stretch it to the size of a billboard and it will look the same.

2. Design at a Smaller Scale

Trying to compose a design for a 50 foot banner is challenging enough without actually trying to compose it at that scale. It is always better to use vector art and design at a scale that is a half or a fourth of the actual print size.

Even though vector graphics can be scaled up or down without distorting the quality, it is always better to scale up than to scale down. When you shrink the design some of the finer details will be hard to see.

3. Make Your Font Legible

When you are dealing with large format printing, the assumption is that the audience will be viewing the print from a distance. You do not want to use small font or font that takes a while to process. The font should be big, bold, simple, and easy to read.

You should also assume that the people reading these prints are continuing to move. A billboard on the side of the road is a good example. Someone driving is not going to stop and read the billboard; they need to be able to understand the message by a quick glance.

English: four-plate large-format albumen print

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Test Your Print

When you actually get to the point of having your print ready for the printers, you need to remind yourself that you only get one chance. Large format printing is not cheap and most people do not have enough money to print a second 50 foot banner because they did not like the first one.

Print a small sample first. You know you are ready to print if you like the way the sample looks. It is going to be easier on your wallet to pay for a few small samples than to have an unusable 50 foot banner. 

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