Graphic design is very screen-focused, and images can look surprisingly different once printed out. A perfect online ad might look terrible printed, and something which doesn't look quite right on screen might be fine once it's in your hands. Choosing the correct settings is absolutely essential when creating graphics to be printed, especially when working in colour. To preserve the integrity of the design you've spent hours working on, make sure you follow the tips below.
Choose the right colour settings
Depending on the image editing software you are using, RBG may be the default colour setting. RBG displays perfectly on screens, so is great if you're designing solely for the web. For printing, it's not ideal and can lead to incorrect colours. This is due to the way printers work — RBG creates colours by mixing red, green and blue together in different amounts, while printers work by mixing cyan, magenta, yellow and black. For this reason, CMYK is the best setting to use for graphics you plan to print. You'll be able to see your designs printed in colours exactly the same as those that appear on-screen. Converting an image from RGB to CMYK is possible, but it's best to work in the mode you plan to print in from the start as this avoids the subtle colour alterations that can take place when you convert a file.
Make sure the image is large enough
This sounds basic but is easy to get wrong when designing on a computer. If you're planning to print an image in A4 size, then you need to make sure that your canvas is at least as large as A4 to avoid distortion caused by enlargement. Most editing software shows the size of your image in pixels as default. Changing the setting to show the size of your canvas in inches or centimetres means that you can design in the exact size you plan to print in.
You'll also need to consider PPI, which refers to 'pixels per inch'. A larger PPI will result in a better quality image but might slow down your computer. The exact PPI you choose will depend on the size you plan to print in and the purpose of your design. A poster that will only be seen from afar won't need a very high PPI, but an image that will be viewed up close, like a booklet or flyer, will need a higher PPI to look professional. Ask an expert at your local printing shop for tailored advice.