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graphic design Preparing images for professional printing
Shotz print Blog - SHOTZ Print Tutorials
Tuesday, 11 January 2011 14:44


It's important what to know when supplying images for print. Here are the main points you need to know when supplying them;

  • Generally, images downloaded off the internet are low in resolution and will be pixelated when printed. Nobody wants that. Screens generally have a 72dpi (dots per inch) resolution and print uses approx 300dpi (depending on the print process).
  • You can reduce an images' resolution effectively, not increase it. Well, this is not entirely true as you can open a 72dpi image in Photoshop and increase it's dpi; quite like making more beer by adding water (we've tried this also and sadly it doesn't work). You really need the quality from the offset.
  • When taking photos yourself make sure you have your camera jpeg setting set at maximum resolution.
  • File sizes are generally bigger when high resolution so that's a good indication. For example a 50k file will not print as well as a 1mb file. More pixels increase the file size. More pixels are good.
  • The larger the photo will be printed, the larger the file size will need to be, thus more pixels. More coverage means more pixels are required.
  • If you are reducing your image dpi (for web purposes for example), save it as a different name and keep the original high resolution version for future use.
  • Images on screen are set to RGB colour mode as that is how they are displayed. When printed, CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow & Black) processing is used. Changing colour modes can create unexpected results so be aware. Rely on your printer at this stage.
  • Avoid making any image 'enhancing' on image software like Photoshop unless you know what you are doing and ensure your screen is calibrated reasonably well. Best leave it to the professionals.
  • If you have a photo you need scanning, bring the photo in for SHOTZ to correctly scan and retouch any scratches, fading or blemishes. Avoid scanning with a cheap home scanner when looking for a professional finish.

On a side note, back up your photos on discs aswell as on your hard drive. Even then another back up is recommended for important files.

Oh, and considering today's weather, do keep those photos dry!

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Designer V's Client; How to Work Together
Shotz print Blog - SHOTZ Print Design
Friday, 17 December 2010 13:38
A question posted to SHOTZ by socialbuzzAUS was this.

"@shotzprint why do printing designers go off on their own tangent when you've told them specifically what you want?"

This is not the first time we have heard this, I hope this post goes some way to answering it.

You go to a designer and  ask for a new brochure, "like this" maybe it's something you have seen before, something absolutely perfect for what you need. It's worth asking yourself how many copies you think may have been printed.  A 500,000 copy print run can have some pretty fancy dies made to do the job cheaply.  If you have 50 copies made the cost for setting up could be enormous. So the designer thinks they are doing you a favor by giving you an easy print job and/or some things just can't be done. He/she should explain that to you. Your designer should try to rein in your enthusiasm a little to make sure you don't overspend.
Going off on tangents is part of the territory and sometimes a better solution can be obtained this way.

On the flip side; not all graphic artists are great communicators.  Nor are some clients.

As Banner frog put it "@shotzprint @socialbuzzAUS - sometimes getting a brief out of a client is like extracting teeth. They just don't know what they want" "more time spent on the brief, the more spent on design and not on revising the initial concept."

The key here is obviously in the communication. Meet with the designer. Get to know them a little, see if you can work together. If they are dismissive of your ideas without explanation then you're better off looking for another designer. They should give you options within the budget and timeframe.

Try to go to the designer with some ideas of your own, and be ready to change them. They appreciate a sample or two to help them understand what you want.  Remember that designers and printers have a different vocabulary and that may be confusing if it's not your industry.  So don't be afraid to ask for an explanation in real-people speak.

If you don't know what you need then explain that at the start and just tell the designer what you want it to do. Then trust them to know what you need. You hired them for their expertise and experience, so if you are paying for it; make the best use of it.

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15 tips on how to design your own business card
Monday, 08 November 2010 08:54

Business Card Design Tips

This is your last chance for a good first impression so it is worth getting it right.

Your business card is a take away reference, a courtesy for those who can't remember names (adds comfort, so they can concentrate on what you are saying and not on remembering your name) and in many ways is a statement of stature. Your name is associated with it and if it looks cheap, then by extension, you look cheap.

It is good business to have a good business card.

Building good business card artwork

First some technical basics:

In all products there are slight variations between units. The allowable variation is called "tolerance". In the Printing industry generally, the sheet to sheet tolerance allowed in printing is +/- 0.5mm the front to back tolerance is +/- 0.5mm and the guillotine cutting tolerance +/- 0.5mm. (When other finishing processes are involved (cello-glazing, foiling, varnishing, scoring, perforating, etc) the guillotine tolerance can be extended up to another half a millimeter). All those plus or minus half millimeters add up, so the final cut can be up to 1.5mm away from the intended cut and worse; that can be in either direction making 3mm overall (OK, extreme example - hardly ever happens) and still considered to be: "within tolerance"

To cater for these tolerances we use "margin" and "bleed". Margins are simply keeping essential stuff away from the edges of the card and out of harms way. Bleed means running colours and borders right past the cut edges so that the guillotine cuts through it and no white lines show up were they shouldn't.

Other tolerances to be aware of are skew and square. The rest (every measurable element of every industrial process has a tolerance allocation) you can ignore, as they are well outside the scope of this discussion.

  1. Double sided card: Use that real estate: Use it to advertise, use it to inform, use it to inspire, use it to amuse, use it for anything you want, but use it, don't waste it. Sure it costs a little more, but not a whole lot more.
  2. K.I.S.S: "Less is more" applies especially to business cards ("keep it simple stupid")
  3. Margins "Room to breath": keep a margin between the important elements (eg: text) and cut edge of the card. 5mm is normal, 3mm a rule-of-thumb minimum. Margin also influences "white space" a subject worthy of its own article, which aids in the simplicity and clean appearance of any final design.
  4. Bleeds. Run background colours, borders, and any element which touches the edge of the card, straight past the edge by another 2mm or 3mm


  5. Font Point Size: Understand who your audience is and the limitations of Ink. 4pt helvetica light in black text on white background will reproduce fine and be clearly readable with good eyes, but invisible to a pensioner. That same text may not even reproduce as white text on black. Rule-of-thumb: smallest: 7pt, biggest: 11pt but print it out at size and be critical of your own work from your audience POV.
  6. How many Fonts? Choose fonts with care... Every font should work for a living, be able to justify its existence. Every font conveys a message within itself, the trained eye understands these messages, the untrained eye still receives them but subliminally. Using "Palace Script" in place of "Comic Sans" or vice versa is unforgivable.
  7. Lots of Colours: Use as many as you want to reflect the position of your business. A clowns card can use dozens of colours, Buckingham palace will use just one.
  8. White space is important. white space (aka quiet space) helps to pace the design, it leads the eye, it develops the mood and you don't even know it is there until it is gone.
  9. Look at other cards for inspiration. Inspiration, I said "inspiration",  don't copy it!
  10. Standard sizes? There is no such thing. OK there is such a thing: 55x90mm is the Australian "standard" 2.25"x3.5" is an American "standard" but there are so many exceptions that it is hard to call it a "standard". The cheap bulk card suppliers like "Vista" do insist on a standard size to suit their mass production systems, but when your cards are being individually produced and optimized for you, like Shotz" do,  then go wild, stand out from the crowd, make it any size that works for you.
  11. Microsoft Word is a word processing program, it is not a design ap. Oh what the hell, if that is all you have got and you are not going to use a designer, then go for it. But be warned it doesn't matter how many days you waste formatting it, it still won't be pretty.
  12. Keep all images at 300dpi. Pixels should be felt not seen.
  13. Don't use website templates. Imagine swapping cards with someone who has the same card design as yourself...
  14. Print it out. Always print out your design for final approval even if it's just black and white. You won't believe what you missed on screen.
  15. One card per person. 2 names on one card... Why? How is that going to work? It saves no money at all, but is the ultimate in looking cheap.

These are just tips, food for thought and if any of it struck home then your design will work much better than it was going to.

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Welcome to the Shotz Blog
Shotz print Blog - SHOTZ Print News
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 13:24

Our Blog is intended to be our newsletter page and also a resource for people looking for information about printing that doesn't need a degree to understand.

Blogging itself is a new concept to the print industry. The skills required to take a few buckets of ink and some paper, and turn it into something beautiful, has traditionally been a closely guarded secret. Each printer gained an affinity with their machine and could coax results from it far exceeding its designed capabilities.  To some extent that's still the case so we decided it was time to shake it up a bit.

We intend to use the Blog to help inform people on how to get the best result for their print job. Whilst there is nothing we can't print for you, your job will run smoother if we are all on the same page(excuse the pun.)

Our first entry is on colour and explains why it's sometimes hard to get printed what you thought you had created.

If you have any other questions or printing terms you'd like explained please feel free to drop us a line and we will put the experts on the job, then translate it into real people speak.

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Choosing colours for print
Thursday, 23 September 2010 11:18

Every professional in any print industry knows what PMS means: Its the Pantone Matching System. It's a simple system for colour matching.

For those who us who are not print professionals, lets look at how it affects you and your print job.

Here is the situation: You have an exact colour in mind for the background on your business card.

You need the printer to know what that colour is.

You can't just email it because the colour you see on your computer monitor will be different to the colour he sees on his screen. A monitor is not a precise tool and without calibration, could be many shades off.

Test printing it on your home printer won't help much either as the colour you get from the file in your computer will be very different to what the printer gets through his professional system. I.E what you get from your printer is not what's in your file.
Pantone Books


This is why PMS was created. It's a common language for colour identification and communication. When you specify red 182. The printer knows exactly what that colour is and can re-create it for you.

With the Pantone booklet, (which contains over 1000 different colours.) You can tell the printer the pantone code of the colour you choose. It means it will be the same colour every time, whether its screen printed shirts, business cards or car graphics.

Don't have a pantone guide? Drop in and have a chat to one of our reps. They will be able to show you a Pantone book or arrange to supply you a set at cost. (around $600 as of 11/2010)



CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key, or black. These are the four colors of ink used in the traditional method of printing called Offset printing(the term offset relates to how ink is applied)  The three colors, plus black, roughly correspond to the primary colors(red green and blue), from which you can make any colour.  It is a color mixing system that depends on pigments to achieve the desired colour

Before home printers which use Red Green and Blue, most images printed on paper used offset printing with CMYK colors. A color picture is separated into its separate, constituent parts to create four related pictures in cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. Each separate colour is etched onto a plate onto which the right concentration, or amount, of colored ink is applied. When the four plates each print onto a page, the colors recombine and form the original image. For example, a deep plum might have equal amounts of cyan (blue-green) and magenta (pink), with a tinge of black.

CMYK cannot reproduce every color that exists in the world. It's impossible to match things like a parrot feather, rose petal, or oak leaf, but the color system can get remarkably close. CMYK creates many colours by adjusting the percentage of a particular pigment.  I.e., a percentage of yellow will warm an image. These combinations create colors that span the gamut of colour.

Conversions between CMYK color and RGB, or red-green-blue colour


Clashes often occur in print jobs where a CMYK project has an element of RGB.  This happens because though on screen, its just another colour, the computer sees it as an entirely different thing. When we send your files to print the computer breaks it down into colour separations. CMYK.  During the separation of colours, the computer places a box around the RGB object so it can treat it separately. Unfortunately any CMYK elements inside that box get the same treatment as the RGB.

The work around here is to always use one system when your building the job. Or come up with the ideas and get SHOTZ to build the job for you.



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Backlit Displays
Business Cards
CD Sleeves
Canvas prints
Xmas Cards
Comp Slips
Counter Cards
Desk Pads

Invoice Books
Note Pads
Order of Service
Pull up Banners
Roped Banners
Shelf Wobblers
Teardrop Banners
Vehicle graphics
Vinyl Lettering
X Frame Banner

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