Avoid Using Web Images for Print Purposes

I have had many clients ask me to use logos and images from their website when designing their collateral. This isn’t necessarily a problem when I need them for web display, but when I need them to design a file for commercial printing, this actually presents a great problem. Images and logos, which have been saved for the web, have a significantly lower resolution than is required for printing. It is virtually impossible to take an image and save it at a higher quality; it can only be saved down from its original state. Though the image can be enlarged slightly without too much blurring, it will never be crystal clear. I like to think of it as a latex balloon – draw a clear picture on one that is not blown up, then fill it with air and watch how your picture degrades as the balloon stretches. For this reason, I recommend you always keep backups of your raw files and save your reduced files to different filenames.

The Flip-Side: Potential Problems with Using High-Res Images for Web Display

It is also wise to understand how to save images for web display. I have seen many instances where large images have been placed into a web page and scaled down within the HTML instead of an image editing software. This presents two potential problems: 1) the image is pixilated when viewed on a web page, and 2) the loading speed of the web page is slowed significantly to accommodate the large file size of the image. For best clarity and performance with images used for web display, the images must be properly optimized with an image editing software.

How To Proceed

Unless you know how to save images for certain uses, it is in your best interest to always supply your designer with the highest resolution images you have and let him or her decide how best to save them. Where a logo is involved, always supply your designer with the original vector file, as it should have been supplied to you by the designer who created it. (A vector file is an image file that can be enlarged or reduced without any degradation to its quality and generally only applies to illustrations and logos.) When logos are not supplied to me as vector files, I require extra time to isolate the logos from the image background, costing the client extra money, and the resulting clarity is never as ideal as that of a vector file. It is better to re-build the logo from scratch and to save it as a vector file which will save your graphic designer time in the future, and hence, save you money in the long-run.14