Cleaning up the 'fuzzies'

A professional graphic designer can help you design and optimize your graphics for professional final output in whatever medium you choose.

A client of mine once said, "I'd like to be able to use the same graphic online as offline and in print, if that makes any difference." She went on, "I don't understand why web graphics don't seem to print well sometimes, but I'm sure there's a good reason."

There is a good reason--actually there are a few. I will try to explain.

Web graphics are optimized for screen viewing, therefore limited to a screen resolution of 72 dpi (dots per inch). Anything else is overkill and makes for longer load times, the death wish of a web site.

 

When printing onto paper, you need a higher resolution. The actual number (300 to 2540 dpi or more) depends on the final output, including the type of paper you're using, and the capabilities of your printer. Laser and inkjet printers can go up to 1200 dpi or more these days. Commercial printing gets as high as 2540 dpi. I remember paying $12,000 for a 1200 dpi postscript laser printer (black only) in the '80s. Today you can get one for about $600!

That brings me to another factor of this equation, line screen. Line screen refers to the fineness of screens (as in shaded boxes and grayscale or color photographs--anything that has subtle variations in color). A finer (higher) line screen makes for a better quality print, in general. Newspapers usually use a line screen of 60 or 80. Magazines are closer to 133 or 150. Commercial printing goes up to 212 lpi.

However, you cannot print a 133 lpi line screen on a 300 dpi laser printer, it will just come out looking like mud. Therefore, you have to use a dpi and lpi (in your input, as in scan, and your output) that corresponds to your printer and paper or your commercial printer's specifications. Scanning and printing your graphics at the correct dpi and lpi presents a pleasing image that is easy on the eyes and recognizable. Otherwise, it can just end up looking like big dots or smeary mud.

The last thing I will mention is that you need a postscript printer to set line screens on your documents. Otherwise, you are probably stuck with whatever line screen and dpi your printer's default offers (usually 600 dpi, maybe 60 lpi). (Disclaimer: I do not know every printer's capabilities, so this is just an example.)

I hope that you can now see why it is important to get a "web" and a "print" version of your logo or graphics. A professional graphic designer can help you design and optimize your graphics for professional final output in whatever medium you choose. A professional graphic designer can also provide either digital or mechanical formats for a variety of uses. While technically you can use both interchangeably, it will not present an optimum quality of your logo--which in turn represents YOU.

Copyright © 2000-2008, Cheryl Microutsicos
may not be reproduced or distributed without express written permission from author.