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Accepted files types - JPG, TIFF, PSD, PNG, PDF, BMP, ICO, SVG, EPS, and GIF
What is color space? We had intended on including a link to the Wikipedia definition and be done with it. But don’t go there, it won’t help. So here you go, in the simplest terms, color space is a defined set of colors. What’s important about this set is that it insures that the color of an image remains the same from creation all the way to final print. We use Adobe RGB (1998) for our color space. All of our computers and printers are set to Adobe RGB (1998). So for best results, if at all possible, calibrate your display and work your images in the Adobe RGB (1998) color space.
What about sRGB? Sometimes called Simple RGB or Stupid RGB, or worse, this is a color space that was created for one “simple” reason, the World Wide Web is not capable of displaying all the colors included in Adobe RGB. Why include data that will not be seen? So those colors were removed from the set and sRGB was born, great for the web, not so much for artists (You could say, it removes nuance). Because it is “web ready” many cameras come out of the box preset to sRGB. We suggest that you switch all your cameras to Adobe RGB (1998) if you can. Yet, it’s also important to say, if you have an image in sRGB that looks great it will still yield a fantastic print. Nothin’ wrong with that!
We can’t resist to add – We occasionally have genuinely old school folks send us images in CMYK. Don’t do it. That’s a four ink image. Our machines print in twelve.
Dots Per Inch – This is the resolution, or sharpness, at which your Giclées are printed. Originally, this term came about to describe the quality of an image created in the printing press industry. 300dpi became the standard for quality magazines and 350dpi became the standard for fine art publications, such as the familiar “coffee table” books of art and photographs. Subsequently, and appropriately, the dpi term was carried over to dot-matrix printers (Ugh.) and laser printers (Great for text but when it comes to art, forget about it.) And then, the ink-jet printer came about. After many, many refinements the Giclée came into being. We still use dpi to describe the resolution but it’s a whole new ball game. The “dots” that our printers create are so minute that at 180dpi, we found that our prints were sharper than those high quality “coffee table” images. Not to mention, ours are way more colorful and therefore - accurate.
So, when creating your images, use 180dpi or higher.
There is such an endless amount of info, dissertations and arguments, pro and con, about image file types out there, it can make your eyes glaze over. As a visual artist you know you really don’t want that to happen. So, right here, right now, we will make this as simple as it can be. (It’s still technical so you’re going to have to noodle it a bit.)
The Big Giant Deal with files types is “lossy vs. non-lossy.”
Lossy means that when a file is saved it is compressed and when that very same file is opened and then saved again it is compressed yet again resulting in “information loss”. In other words – detail is minutely reduced. Doing this repeatedly could theoretically turn your image into, well, mush. Or maybe even some sort of blob. In this category – the ubiquitous .jpg.
Non-lossy simply means that no compression is used and an image in that file type can be saved over and over again with no loss of detail. In this category - .tif and .psd.
[If you happen to be working in .gif format – Stop it right now! No matter how you pronounce it, it’s antiquated and embarrassing.]
So why even use a lossy file type if it’s so crappy? Good question. We’ll give you a good answer;
When an image that has been saved in both file types (lossy and non-lossy) is “open” in an image editing program, both will have an identical file size. Yet the compressed image file is smaller when “closed” than the non-compressed image file. That’s what the compression is all about. This smaller file has two advantages. One - Transmission speed is faster. In other words, your upload time is quicker. Two – It will allow you to upload your very large images and “get under” our file size cap of 100mb. (It’s actually a bit more like 95mb… to be honest.)
So, with that said, here’s what we recommend…
If you are going to work, modify, manipulate, your images, we suggest that when you import them to your computer save them as .tif or .psd (if you have Photoshop) and then do your magic. You folks that work in Raw carry on as usual. Then follow along with the rest of us. When you have your final perfected image, save it in the file type you have been working in. Then, and only then, save it yet again as a .jpg at the highest quality level. This .jpg is for uploading to us. There will be absolutely no discernable detail loss in making this final .jpg. By following these steps your quality will remain perfect and your upload time should be quick. Plus, if your file turns out to be too big to upload, you can fix it. Just go back to your final non-.jpg file and save it again as a .jpg but this time with a little more compression. This way you will avoid the “repeated-save-loss” of detail situation.
“But hold on a minute,” you say, “Isn’t there going to be a loss when I upload my .jpg to you and it is saved on your servers?” No. Very important distinction here – You can copy a .jpg file over and over, move it from computer to computer all day long and never lose anything. This loss only occurs when the file is opened in an image editing program, such as Photoshop, and saved again as a .jpg - bingo, there you go, now you’re losing detail.
What’s more, after you have uploaded your file, you can make crops and order prints now and make different crops in the future and order more prints and they will all come from that very same file – it is never changed or re-saved.
With that said, we can now, somewhat sheepishly confess, that we used to be real file snobs and would upturn our noses whenever someone would bring us a jpeg - but no more. We have made many beautiful Giclées from those formerly “suspect” files. It’s really all about the proper use of the technology. On the other hand, we do not want to give you the impression, in any way, that we discourage uploading your .tifs and .psds. Bring ‘um on!
If you can - work your images in the Adobe RGB (1998) color space.
Use 180dpi or greater.
Mind your file types.
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