Preparing your Art files for print and for professional clients

  • Is there a video or does anyone know the appropriate way to send your clients files of your artwork (I work digitally)? I feel amateurish when I only send a Jpeg or a PNG. Only because my first real big client asked me to have it sent in a PDF format. Is there an Industry formula to this? The last thing I want is for my clients to perceive me as unprofessional. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

    Also wanted to add that prints I have made in the past would come out too dark compared to what I see on my screen. I switch the color to CMYK and still have this issue.

    @Will-Terry @Lee-White @Jake-Parker

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    @cjones Different clients have different requirements. Different printers have different requirements. The most professional thing you can do is ask them in the beginning what size and file format they need, really. You can't guess and they don't want you to guess, there's zero reason to be shy about asking this. Also when you're just sharing sketches and even final images for approval, a single low res JPG is actually great because it's lightweight and easy to download and share. They appreciate that! Only the final files you send need to be full size and in the requested file format. Hope that helps!

  • @nessillustration Thank you very much. And great point to ask in the very beginning.

  • @Cjones Do you have Photoshop? I used to work for a newspaper, and we had to take images into Photoshop and adjust the curves to lighten the image so that it wouldn't be too dark for print. The rule of thumb at the paper was lighten it by about 10%. You may not have to lighten it that much since you'll be printing on nicer paper (instead of newsprint), but you can open up curves and see what works best. (I think it's image>adjustments>curves, or maybe just image>curves).

    I agree with Nessa about asking your client what format they prefer. If for some weird reason they don't know what file type they need, I would send them a high-res PDF. It's likely that the designers will change the file format anyway when they're setting up the print file. (I've found that InDesign likes TIF files, but those are impossible to email due to size).

  • Great point!

    It depends on what program you work in of course, but if it's Photoshop I recommend reading through this link:

    Personally I always send the .jpg, and if requested or if it's useful to the person I'm working with, I add the .psd, the .png or the .pdf. When I worked with Graphic Design agencies the final files were always High Quality .pdf files that were sent to the printers, and I think it's the most versatile file to work with - so it's good to know how to export them 😉 Pixel files (read images, not vectors) were always saved as .tiff since .tiff doesn't compress -anything- where .jpg does still do quite some compressing, even in its highest setting.

    And yes, screen colors and printing colors are always different (especially browns!). On top of that screen colors vary per screen, so sometimes a client sees something slightly different than you do when you send an image (especially if they're using f.lux! ) Which is something to keep in mind when the client asks for odd color changes. I like to do a print at home to make sure the colors come out alright before sending it out. 🙂

    Hope this helps and good luck!! 😃

  • @cjones you can ask for a colour profile, which you can load into Photoshop to check what it will look like printed on different printers and different kinds of paper. Also if you haven't already got one, defo get a monitor calibrator - Spyder 5 Elite is decent. Good to buy a Pantone colour book for looking at printed colours in different light, in the real world. Then you can use and match them with the Pantone swatches in photoshop - I use this for mixing paints when I'm making screen prints.

  • @sigross also just to say jpg is a display format. Print is either pdf or tiff

  • @irina It's ok to print a jpeg, it just needs resizing to 300 dpi or higher. Web display of a jpeg is 72 dpi. Printing at 72 dpi then you get a pixelated image. A jpeg (8 quality) at 3600 x 2400 px (300dpi) is the size of an average magazine page. But a jpeg is a lossy file format so every time you save it loses data due to its compression - so always save from the master file. TIFF files are normally uncompressed so hold all the image data. For a final image, I'd say a jpeg saved at 12 quality is a good compromise.

    Do you know how to use Adobe indesign? I've just started to learn it, as its great for layouts and most mags, book publishers and newspapers use it for layout.

  • @sigross yeah. I guess i was taught once by a magazine editor that you don't ever use jpg for print especially because of the compression but yes, if you work in a big dimension with a high dpi whatever you lose might not be visible to human eye. I still prefer not to use it for print 😃

    Yes i have worked with InDesign. It's great for many layouts and bookdesign. I was thinking actually to do my dummies for children's books jsut to be able to follow the narrative progression. So far i first thumbnail the storyboard and then make them bigger to the actual size and put them all on the wall in my room. But i think actually leafing through the book is also helpful in deciding how to construct the book. So far this is how i would use InDesign for myself. But i have done architectural presentations of different projects and so on in InDesign. It's great and not so hard. It's very VERY good with actual typesetting, managing fonts, using special swashes and so on in text. It's great.

    As for preparing art files i have issues with scanning watercolor because i use thin pastel-y colors so sometimes they don't show up well. Or, i have to use hotpress water so i have less grain since my scanner picks up paper grain like crazy. I have to research the best way to clean up and scan watercolor so the paper grain doesn't show so so so much.

    I use a combination of levels and curves to do the ccleanup of dust and spots and so on and the patch tool or the clone tool and dodge tool for cleaning up, extracting the white paper and so on. Takes time but it's important when working on children's books and sending files to the publishers

  • I have a day job as a print and web designer. I agree that the easiest thing to do is just to ask your client what file format they want, but in my own experience, I have always preferred when illustrators or photographers send either the original file format (a flattened .psd in most cases) or a high-res jpg. If you're sending files directly to a printer then a PDF is the way to go but if you are sending the images to someone who is then going to turn around and drop them into a layout, PDFs can be difficult to work with and if the original file was using transparencies, sometimes programs like indesign don't render them right out of an embedded PDF. If someone sends me a PDF and I need to include it in my print publication, the first thing I am going to do is drop it into photoshop and turn it into a jpg.

    In the case of an illustration, I don't think that sending a jpg is unprofessional at all since jpg is an image format and that is what you are providing - an image. I think that a jpg would only come across as amateurish if you are taking your illustrations all the way to a finished layout that is intended for print, then you would want to go with PDF (a document format).

  • @irina for your water colours, have you tried using a DSLR camera on a tripod, two lights and a good sharp lens (in RAW format)? I've never used a scanner for art, only negatives so I can't compare. But RAW files hold all the data so you wouldn't lose any of the colour or the textures. I use a Canon 5D IV and 24-105 mm lens at 100-200 ISO with a shutter cable release so there isn't any noise or movement. In the UK we have a share hire company called fatllama so you can rent out kit at reasonable prices, off other artists/photographers.

    @Cjones Another good way to share files is to setup a wetransfer plus account and just post all the different formats in a folder on there - no size is too big. Then send your client a link. It's also a nice touch because you can have your illustrations as a backdrop, while they wait to download!

  • @sigross i haven't and have been thinking of that a lot lately because i actually work large format a lot and it's a pain to stich the documents together. thank you for sharing your setup

  • @irina Just to add that 50 mm - 85 mm is the best focal range for me, as it achieves sharpness across the whole image. Also less lens distortion - move yourself rather than zooming in and out to get square edges. Although photoshop does a pretty good job of fixing distortion, less post-production the better I say. I try to have it a f11 (smaller aperture) and always use a circular polariser, to stop any glare or reflective surfaces making life difficult. Paint gets shiny. I autofocus then turn off the autofocus once its set pin sharp. And if you have no lights, sunlight diffused behind a cloud is class. You can't beat that big bulb in the sky.

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