Digital File Layouts



Is your file ready to go straight to print or do you need our Graphic Team to prepare it?  This answer will affect how you choose to save and send your files. To help our clients, the graphics team came up with some essential guidelines for sending artwork for large format printing. In order to achieve the best print, we will need a few things to obtain these results.

Files We Accept

– InDesign (.id)
– Illustrator (.ai)
– Photoshop (.psd)
– Encapsulated PostScript (.eps)
– Portable Document Format (.pdf)
– Tagged Image File Format (.tiff)

What is a Layered File and Why is it Important?

A native file is the original working file the graphic was created in, most likely an Adobe Creative suite program that includes editable layers. Layers are all the elements that make up the graphic artwork. A layered file provides the best way to re-size and change the appearance of the graphic design to accommodate different size outputs. These files can be exchanged reliably across platforms, and from the client to the printer to produce the desired final output.

Working files are primarily in : InDesign (id) Illustrator (ai) Photoshop (psd)

How to set up your file to result in the best possible print

Know when to use Vector v.s. Bitmap Images

Vector File, When Should I Use It?

Vector files allow for more flexibility because there constructed using mathematical formulas rather than individual colored blocks. Vector file types can be drastically sized with no loss in quality. This means vector images can be significantly enlarged or decreased while maintaining smooth, crisp edges. All text and logo elements should be in a vector format for best print results.
file format: ai, eps, pdfs originating from vector files
graphic programs: Illustrator
graphics: texts, logos, icons, illustrations, drawings

When Should I Use a Raster File?

Raster images are constructed using a fixed number of tiny colored, squares or pixels. The amount of pixels in an image is called resolution. Raster files can not be dramatically resized without compromising their resolution. When stretched to fit a space they weren’t designed to fill, their pixels become visibly grainy and the image distorts. This is why altered photos may appear pixelated or low resolution. A raster image can be enlarged by either adding more pixels or enlarging the size of the pixel. Either way you are spreading the original data over a larger area at the risk of losing clarity.

What is ‘Image Resolution’?

Digital images are made up of thousands of pixels (blocks of color). The number of pixels printed per inch is known as the image resolution, which determines the quality of the print. Higher number of pixels means higher quality, clearer imagery and the best print possible.

Resolution for Print

Image resolution has everything to do with print quality of your image. Resolution is defined by ppi (pixels per inch) and or dpi (dots per inch). A high resolution image is defined as 300 ppi/dpi or higher. When sending artwork at full size the ppi/dpi needs to be at 150 and at half size 300 ppi/dpi.

How to determine what size your raster image must be, for good quality printing:

Multiply the resolution required by the area to be printed.

Example: We require a minimum of 150 ppi and you want to print an image in an area that is 5 inches wide, by 10 inches high multiply 300 pixels x 5 inches (300 x 5 = 1500). Your image must be at least 1500 pixels wide by 3000 pixels high.

How to determine what dimension your existing image can be printed at:

Divide the pixel dimension of your image by the resolution required by your printer.

Example: If your image is 1993 pixels wide & printer requires 300 ppi (1993 ÷ 300) can be printed at 6.643 inches
file format:  jpg, jpeg, png, tif, tiff, bmp, psd and pdfs originating from raster files
graphic programs: Photoshop
graphics: photographs, illustrations with soft blends of color gradients

100% Black vs. Rich RGB Black

When using larger areas of black, we highly recommend using RGB black which is made up of 0% Red, 0% Green, 0% Black. When graphic designers “Fill with Black”, Photoshop fills your selected area with all inks, not just black. “100% Black” produces a dull grey color as only black ink is being used, but “Rich Black” produces a richer, darker, true black by combining all ink colors. To achieve this, simply “Fill with Foreground Color” with the appropriate RGB values assigned.

Composite (Flattened) File

Always save a composite (flattened) image along with the layers of your document. All files can be flattened. Flattening files combines all the layers into a single layer in order to achieve a non-editable version. The purpose of flattening your artwork is to preserve and reduce the file size of the approved design. You will not be able to reopen and edit after flattening and saving an image. This file is to be used as a guide to make sure all elements of the layered file transferred to us properly.

If Using InDesign, Send Packaged Files 

For easy hand-off, gather all the files you’ve used. InDesign files depend on fonts and linked graphics that must be sent along with the native file in order to work properly. This is where the Packaging command is helpful. Luckily, InDesign makes this very easy to do by following the steps below to package your file.

  1. Open your INDD file in InDesign.
  2. Resolve any errors concerning missing links or fonts.
  3. Go to File: Package.
  4. Click the Package button at the bottom of the Summary window (preflight window).
  5. Click continue on the “Printing Instructions” window.
  6. Browse to where you’d like to create the package folder and enter the name of the folder.
  7. Make sure that the “Copy Fonts,” “Copy Linked Graphics,” “Update Graphic  Links in Package,” and “Include Fonts and Links from Hidden….” are all checked. Other boxes should be unchecked.
  8. Click the package button.
  9. Find the new folder that InDesign created and verify that it contains copies of all required files.
  10. Right-click the folder and choose “Compress” (Mac) or “Send to ZIP” This will create a zip file.
  11. Send compressed file via WeTransfer

Produce a Print-Ready Adobe PDF file

If you’re using a color-managed workflow, you can use the precision of color profiles to perform an on screen preview (a soft proof). You can examine how your document’s colors look when reproduced on a particular output device.

Note: Unless you are using a color management system (CMS) with accurately calibrated ICC profiles and are sure that you have properly calibrated your monitor, don’t rely on the on‑screen appearance of colors.

  1. Prepare the document for exporting to Adobe PDF.
  2. Export using preset: PDF/X-1a2001
  3. Compression: Color Images: 300 ppi, Grayscale Images: 300 ppi, Monochromatic Images: 1200 ppi.
  4. Marks and Bleed: Select to include bleed if you have built this into your document
  5. Output: Color Conversion: No Color Conversion, Profile Inclusion Policy: Include All Profiles
  6. File Name: (WxH_filename) 24003600_40VISUALS
  7. Proof and correct the PDF file.
  8. Send the press-ready PDF via
Total Print Layouts in 2016
Total Graphics Shipped in 2016
Locations Shipped in 2016
Different Printed Sizes in 2016