Artwork formats, resolution and stuff...

Graphic design in Bristol

Understanding artwork specs

If you’re confused about vector versus raster artwork, the difference between JPG, PDF, PNG, TIFF formats, what size and resolution to specify, etc, then this section will help you out. It will be useful to you whether you are supplying artwork elements such as logos or photos, or if you are requesting artwork files.

Size and resolution

If you need any kind of artwork for print, such as a poster, CD cover, brochure or leaflet, the finished file that goes to the print company will normally need to be 300dpi which stands for ‘dots per inch’. Each dot represents a bit of information such as colour or grey value from white to black. 300dpi digital images are typically quite large in terms of file-size.

Traditionally computer screens were only 72dpi, and a lot of the images you see on the web have been reduced in both size and resolution to make them faster to transfer in web pages and so on. While they might look fine on screen, these versions of images are typically no good for print applications.

So if you are supplying images to be used for print, they need to be high resolution. The higher the better and the larger the better, as a rule. Reducing down from high res is fine, as you don’t notice the quality loss, but scaling up from low resolution looks bad.

The images from a modern digital camera or phone camera will be fairly high-resolution and should be fine for print. Images purchased from stock libraries will typically be available in different sizes and resolutions, with different price points. The rule to bear in mind is that for print, images you supply should be 300dpi or better at actual size or larger.

Raster versus vector images

The section above is referring to raster images - i.e. pixel-based images, but there is another way to create graphical images. Photos will never be vector images but when it comes to digital artwork, a logo for example, this should ideally be created as a vector graphic. The point about vector artwork is that it is scaleable. So a true vector graphic might be small in terms of dimensions, but it can be scaled without loss of quality. In that sense, a vector graphic has no fixed resolution.

Which file types are best?

It depends on the application. If you are supplying files to us as part of a project, your photographs will typically be high resolution JPG (JPEG) files. JPG is a compressed format, so it’s not the best, but it is the most common. These are usually fine.

If you’re supplying vector artwork, such as a logo, you can often send the native filetype if we can work with it. So if it was created in Adobe Illustrator, you might have an AI file. If in Photoshop, a PSD file. You can also output vector EPS files from these apps, which can be suitable for print applications in themselves.

Files that will be used only on the web can typically be smaller, lower resolution files, and can be a variety of formats, such as JPG, PNG or GIF. PNG is good format for web image files that need to contain transparency - JPG files cannot do this. Scaleable web files can also be SVG files in some cases.


In terms of final output, files for print usually need to be CMYK colourspace (Cyan Magenta Yellow Black). Files for computer and phone screens will be a form of RGB (Red Green Blue) colourspace. Print companies normally want PDF files. So based on what we’ve learned above, you’ll understand that they will typically be 300dpi CMYK PDF files. You might be supplied with these at the end of a project if it’s for print.

Sending files to us

Small files, totally up to about 10mb can be emailed as attachments. Please don’t embed them into emails though, attach them as separate files. Also please don’t paste them into Word or Powerpoint docs, we just want the standalone files.

If you have lots of files or large files to send us, the best thing to do is get in touch first, and we can make available a Drive or Dropbox folder and you can upload them directly. Or of course if you have your own cloud storage you can share files with us from there.