For artwork to be used certain criteria need to be met. Not all artwork is the same and can be used just as easily. Fundamentally artwork can be one of two types, vector and bitmap (also known as raster). We currently use Inkscape (inkscape.org) for vector based drawings and Gimp (www.gimp.org) for bitmap work. These are both free and Open Source applications which work on a variety of platforms.
Bitmaps are a representation of the image as a series of dots. They are fixed in size, so if the design is enlarged or reduced, the image will distort as the program tries to work out where to add or remove dots to make the new size. Typical images of this type are JPG, GIF, BMP, PCX and TIF files. All scanned pictures are bitmaps. All photographs are bitmaps.
Bitmapsare frequently compressed to save space – a scanned full colour image can take up an exceedingly large amount of space. However, the compression is usually of a ‘lossy’ nature – i.e it leads to a reduction in image quality. This is especially noticeable when the image is enlarged, leading to ‘fuzzy’ edges and colour bleed. JPG and GIF, frequently used in web graphics due to their highly compressed nature, are not of sufficient quality for reproduction purposes. They are also difficult to convert to vectors.
Vectorsare a representation of the image as a set of mathematical drawing instructions. They can be easily resized and do not distort. Typical files types include ILL, AI, EPS, PDF, CDR & SVG.
However, note that bitmaps can be inserted into a vector file without being converted. This does NOT improve them, nor make them usable. We frequently get sent a bitmap and ask for a EPS/vector based form, only to be sent a EPS with the same bitmap inserted into it !
If you use Illustrator or CorelDraw then please ensure that everything in the design is in vector format.
Vector formats can easily be converted to bit maps. But converting bitmaps (or raster) images to vectors is much more difficult to accomplish as per the above example.
Fontsare yet another problem. Frequently we get sent vector based artwork without the font files. The font files are like a style guide for text. Without the correct font file, we have no idea how your text should look. They are also expensive and not always easily obtainable. The easy way around this is to ensure that all text is converted to curves or outlines or objects are converted to paths.
As result of all of this, the only form of artwork that we can easily accept is vector-based artwork. Any other type really needs to be converted or redrawn.
Currently the best format for artwork is Illustrator V8 EPS (encapsulated Postscript), which is industry standard, although PDFs are slowly becoming the new standard.
Do not embed bitmaps in EPS files as this does NOT make it vectorized and is therefore unsuitable (many bitmap programs can save to an EPS file but it does not make your bitmap a vector!).
Text should be converted to curves as we may not have the font files that you use. Please remember that effects such as gradients or shading will not reproduce on many items and are best avoided.
Coloursare another complicated area. There are several different methods for expressing a colour. Most of our work with logos uses what are called 'spot' colours. e.g. the Impamark logo uses two colours – a gold and a black. We can specify those colours relatively easily using a standard system called the Pantone colour matching system. It is an agreed and understood way of mixing a set of standard colours to give you the colour that you want. e.g. our gold is made from a mixture of red, yellow and black.
The Pantone system covers a wide range of colours and shades and works well for spot colours and is the most commonly used system in our business. However, there are different ways of expressing colour.
RGB : this is the colour system used on computer and television screens. Colours are made from a combination of Red, Green and Blue dots. Colours often tend to be quite vivid.
CMYK : This colour system is typically used in the printing industry for papers, magazines and other paper printed materials. You colour is made my combining a series of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black dots. Colours tend to be a little flat.
There are two big problems with colour
- First is printing anything of a photographic nature. Barring a limited number of items such as mouse mats and mugs, it is often difficult to reproduce photos properly. They need to be printed in CMYK and many items cannot be printed this way.
- Second is what is known in the trade as the 'Gamut'. This is the range of colours that can be reproduced by any of the methods. If we imagine a colour wheel showing all possible colours that we can see, a gamut is the range of colours that can be produced using one of the methods, and will be smaller than the total colours we can see.
- Any artwork sent on disk should be accompanied by a hard copy print for reference
- Disks should be clearly labelled with customer name and file type and should be in PC format
- The preferred data format is Illustrator V7 or V8 EPS, NO EMBEDDED bitmaps, with text converted to curves so that any fonts included will render correctly regardless of whether we hold them
- The customer should supply any special fonts required. We hold a very basic range of standard fonts, but if a particular one is required then this should be supplied, or we will match with one as closely as we can
- Remember that the finished article will only be as good as the original artwork. Small text and fine details will not work very well, especially on small items.If you have any queries on whether your artwork is suitable then do please call us for further guidance.
- Careful with colour particularly if you have specific requirements.