SpiFFy’s Blog

Great products deserve great (or at least adequate!) image quality

Hello everyone – Spiffy the Sausage here! Just back from my daily exercise. Before I settle down to a well-deserved kip, with frequent interruptions to bark at any small noises outside, I thought I’d pen a few words about image requirements here at Spiffing Image.

First things first, we love producing high quality products that customers value and cherish. To do this, we try to get the best that we can out of the images our customers give to us, but the truth is, they are not always of the highest standard for printing!

The good news is that (just like me!) most of the products we supply are fairly small, so the image does not need to be reproduced at a large size. Usually we are still able to create something lovely, even from a fairly small or low-resolution image. But it is something we have to keep an eye on.

So, as my keepers Andy and Sally wish me to discuss: what’s in a good, or high-quality, image?

Essentially, there are two important aspects to a digital image file, whether it is a JPEG, a PNG, a TIFF, or any of the other myriad image file formats.

Firstly, there is the physical size of the picture, ie 10cm across by 5cm down.

Secondly, there is the resolution – which relates to the amount of data contained within the file. Most often this is expressed as a figure of dachshunds, sorry, I mean dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). If you looked very closely with a magnifying glass you would see that every image is made up of lots of little dots of colour, that you don’t see individually when looking casually at a picture – you see the whole picture instead. The more of these dots or pixels there are within every inch of the image, the more information there is packed into the digital file.

Therefore, a 300 dpi file has more data inside it than one that has the same physical dimensions, but is 72 dpi.

Those two numbers do have a particular significance, by the way, because 72 dpi is the standard requirement for using a picture on the internet, while 300 dpi is the ideal requirement for the printing process.

In an ideal world

We like to say that there is an ideal requirement for images supplied to Spiffing Image: this is a PNG file (which doesn’t have the compression characteristics of a JPEG, where data can be lost), with 300 dpi resolution at the size the image will be reproduced.

However, that’s just the ideal, and we recognise that few people are professional photographers or designers – they just take a few snaps on their mobile phone! Most of the time, we are able to resize images to fit the dimensions of the product a customer has ordered, and the image reproduces quite nicely.

Occasionally – for example if we have to enlarge a small image – there may be a danger of a picture reproducing with jagged rather than smooth lines, or fuzzy instead of clear details. Where we are concerned about this, we will contact you to see if there are any better versions of the image available. If there are no alternatives, there is no easy, quick or free fix. We are not, apparently, able to magically make a bad image good!

For certain types of image – a logo, for instance, which is mostly lines, rather than photographic detail – we are able to use a conversion service for a small fee (usually £5 per image) to convert the file to a vector format, which serves to smooth out jagged lines. We will offer this service where appropriate.

At the end of the day, we want to produce something that you cherish or value. Poor image quality can be a hindrance to that goal, and if we are concerned, we will advise you so, and explore ways to remedy it – whether that’s through compromise, substitution or a whole new idea!

Now, get me up on the sofa please daddy, I want to sleep…..

Further info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_image