This guide is intended to help you set up files for wide-format printing. Wide-format printing can be tricky, because of the file sizes and dimensions of images being edited, it can be hard to ensure that your file will print correctly.
The main issue that we see with files submitted for print is mixing RGB and CMYK color spaces within the document. This can cause various issues, including colors rendering incorrectly, and transparency issues. One of the most important steps to ensuring that your file looks the same on screen as it does in print, is to work exclusively in a CMYK color space. This means more than setting Illustrator or InDesign to CMYK, however. any embedded or linked file should also exist in a CMYK color space. The easiest way to do this is to save each file as a CMYK .tif or .pdf before placing it in your layout. InDesign and illustrator both have various color handling tools that can be employed as well.
Another issue that we see often is low-resolution photos and raster images, or images being enlarged to a point that their resolution is not sufficient. This leads to a pixelated, rough looking images. When combined with clean vector artwork, this can be especially noticeable. This is a more tricky issue to resolve, as you may not have access to a higher resolution image. Generally, photographs and raster (pixel) based files should be at a resolution of at least 150 dpi in order to ensure clean printing. This means, that if you want an image to be printed at 10″ square, the image will need to be 1500 pixels wide by 1500 pixels tall. Images of this size can really slow down your editing software, so it is a good practice to use raster graphics only in situations where vector graphics will absolutely not work. In the even that an image of unsuitable resolution must be used, there are software utilities available that can enlarge the image with considerably less degradation that traditional methods. Using one of these or reducing the size of the print is highly recommended.
Vector graphics are graphics that are defined mathematically and can be scaled infinitely with no loss of quality. For this reason, we recommend using vectors for as much of your artwork as possible. Vector graphics are usually a bit less taxing on your system as well.
One thing that frequently causes issues is font/typeface availability. If a font is used in your document, we need access to that font in order to be able to print the file. Today, so many fonts are available online and in design software that it is impossible for us to keep all of them in our font library. While we do have a wide variety of typefaces available, depending on where your font came from, we may or may not have access to it, and having to find fonts for a file will add production time, and possibly cost, to your project. Because of this, it is a good practice to either embed all fonts used, vectorize text, or provide the font files used in the document.
A special note about white-ink printing:
Our EFI H1625 LED Wide-Format printer is cabable of printing on dark or colored surfaces, using special opaque white ink. This is an exciting feature and opens up a lot of design possibilities. If you would like to take advantage of this capability, you will need to set up your file accordingly. We can underprint images with white as well, enabling you to print on dark surfaces but maintain a white balance similar to white substrates. depending on the effect desired, there may be some setup required. If you would like white printed on the piece as a spot color, ie., if you would like white type on a dark substrate, the part of the file that is desired to print in white must be colored with a spot color called White_Ink. This can be done easily in Adobe Illustrator, simply by creating a spot color called White_Ink, and applying it to all objects that are to be printed white. In Photoshop, this can be accomplished by creating a new Channel, named White_Ink, and coloring all areas to be printed. (The area to be printed will be shown as BLACK in the channel, this is correct.) If you need any assistance with this process, please feel free to contact us and speak with one of our designers.
We hope that this guide helps you to set your file up correctly to be printed.