The print industry has undergone many changes from its invention in 15th century by goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg in Germany to modern era of digital printing. Traditional offset printing is still used along with modern digital printing by commercial printing companies. Where offset printing requires huge equipment, mechanical process and trained operators, digital printing is faster and easy to execute. Digital printing has made it easier for even a layman to get high quality prints of files transferred from digital cameras and scanners.
People nowadays, prefer to print their documents and photos at home due to easy availability and affordability of professional standard printers in the market. For those, using a desktop computer and trying to get professional grade prints of pictures or documents, here are a few simple tips and tricks:
- Select the right print size: 300 ppi (pixels per inch) is considered best resolution for good quality printing. A resolution of 2880 ppi will give high quality printing result. Divide the dimensions of your photos by 300 to get the best quality printed picture size. For example if an image measures 1600×1200 pixels, divide it by 300, the result would be approximately 5.3×4. It means you can get the best print in size 5×3 inches without blurring the picture.
- Select the right paper: Quality of printed pictures depend on quality of paper used for printing. Printing papers are available in variety of sizes, types and qualities. Selecting right paper is crucial for getting good printing results. Brightness, opacity, weight and texture should be kept in mind while selecting paper type. Low quality paper absorbs ink so it wastes more printer ink. It is best to use a paper recommended by printer’s manufacturer.
- Select image editing software: The way the colors appear on screen are different from the colors you get in print. Most digital cameras and scanners create images with the combination of three colors: red, green and blue (RGB) while the printing presses print pictures in cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). It is best to save your files in RGB for web and CMYK for printing. This can be done conveniently with an image editing software like Photoshop.
- Select bleed settings: Bleed is the term used to indicate that the printed image will extend to the edge with no white borders. It is not possible to print to the edge of paper as the printer grips the paper to feed it and cannot print on the grip areas. This can be achieved by using a larger paper for printing and then crop it to get required page size. Bleed settings are available in Adobe In Design but not in Photoshop, but you can change the settings to create bleed in Photoshop.
- Select “print as image” option: The PDF format has made it easier to transfer files from one computer to another making the printing process easier and faster. PDF format is considered standard for transferring files to get prints from printing companies. Using the “print as image” option in PDF format simplifies it for the printer. In most computers, this option is checked by default.
- Use “print preview”: It is better to preview the photos before giving print command. This can be done from the file menu to see how your photos will look. This can also be done by printing an index sheet to see how photos will look in print. The index sheet will help in selecting the photos for final printing.