Updated: May 25, 2021
Have you ever been asked for “camera ready artwork”? Chances are if you plan to produce any quality marketing, then quality design and camera ready art will be necessary.
Just as movie producers may run through many takes and storyline attempts and leave some ideas on the cutting room floor, effective marketing may also require a number of attempts, scrapped concepts or works-in-progress, before reaching the best graphic design results. The best works are produced with the best quality art files! Printing or producing the final product with draft quality art will not produce professional looking results. In order to share your images and ideas, pay close attention to the quality and type of files you use!
From conception of an image and its final form, there are many steps in developing the best and most versatile digital image. The higher the quality, the more ways it can be shared!
Over years of experience in print marketing, we have seen and received a variety of artwork including hand-drawn sketches, MS Word, Publisher documents, clipart from websites, phone pictures of ideas, scanned images, Photoshop designs, Corel Draw, Adobe, Illustrator and others. Some of these sources are true graphic design tools by which final, camera ready or vector artwork that is ready can be produced. Others of these may be used as a starting point but may later require professional graphic design work.
Adobe Creative Cloud is our primary graphic design and layout tool which includes Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe LightRoom, and more. Previously, we used Corel Draw to produce a majority of our vector line art. These design files are used for print collateral, forms, screen print, displays, signage, and promotional products! For digital, full color designs, we may also utilize Photoshop and layout applications for full-color image editing, social media and digital marketing. The experienced graphic designers and artists on our team can take basic concepts and make them picture perfect for production processes, whatever the project may be.
Common Image & Design File Types
Here are some quick references for graphic design file types you may own or come across and their most effective marketing usability.
Low Resolution vs. High Resolution. – Low Res images may be viewed and used on screen, via email and in multi-media presentations like Power Point, MS Publisher and other desktop publishing tools. You may also achieve acceptable printed outcomes on home printers using low res clipart. High Res normally refers to 300+ dpi (dots per inch) art files. Many quick print shops produce at 1200 dpi, which requires hi-res files, or the art will appear fuzzy when reproduced.
.jpg, .png, or .gif: Generally speaking these are all low res file types. They are useful for screen viewing, website use and email. Hi res jpegs may also work well for digitally printed paper products like color copies at 300 dpi resolution.
.tif - CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color format. Hi resolution photo/graphic format without text. A scanned image or drawing that is saved as a tiff could be printed out for distribution but would not be usable for screen print or graphic design without being converted to vector art.
.psd - RBG (red, blue, green) for screen use or email campaigns, or CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color for print projects. These files are created in Photoshop which is perfect for custom graphics or photographic work. It's not best to add text/fonts in Photoshop but bring the .psd file into Illustrator or InDesign to finalize layouts for signs, booklets, displays, POS signs and other printable materials. Text will be rasterized if in Photoshop and the print quality would be low or distorted.
.pdf - Invented by Adobe Systems and perfected over 20 years, Portable Document Format (PDF) is now an open standard for electronic document exchange maintained by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). When you convert documents, forms, graphics, and web pages to PDF, they look just like they would if printed. But unlike printed documents, PDF files can contain clickable links and buttons, form fields, video, and audio — as well as logic to help automate routine business processes. When you share a PDF file, virtually anyone can read it using free Adobe Reader® software or the Adobe Reader mobile app. A .pdf created for graphic design often originates as a Corel Draw or Adobe Illustrator design file. In order to be camera ready, fonts need to first be converted to curves or outlines.
.indd - InDesign is a game changer for layout of booklets, playbills, training manuals, installation guides, catalogs, and magazines. Text remains intact so that changes can be made easily and links to original graphic files will connect and print in the best resolution.
.eps - EPS normally identifies a single item or single page file. It stands for encapsulated post script and is a more universal graphic design file format for use across PC and Apple computer platforms. This is a file produced using one of the professional graphics programs mentioned. It is often used as print ready for marketing purposes and is not able to be edited without the original design file. Unless you have graphic design software loaded on your computer, you will not be able to open and view an .eps file but you could easily pass it along as an email attachment to your production team if you’ve received this file type from your graphics team.
.AI is the acronym for Adobe Illustrator. Files that have the .ai extension are drawing files that the Adobe Illustrator application has created. The files created by this application are composed of paths that are connected by points and are saved in vector format. The technology used to create these files allows the user to re-size the AI image without losing any of the image's quality. ai files are camera ready if all fonts have been saved as “outlines”. The average computer user will not have the software required to open the file but you could attach it to an email and forward to your production team if provided by your graphics team.
Graphic design comes at a cost because of the skill, experience, computer software, collaboration, and creativity that goes into creating quality images, vector art for print and promotional products, catalogs, booklets and manuals as well as larger scale displays and advertising campaigns. Retail rates may range from $75-$150+ per hour depending on the detail required for company logos or more extensive marketing projects. Other graphic design for screen print, website design, video production, or general typesetting may be offered at a higher or lower rate depending on details. We are always happy to consult with clients about their design ideas and needs. Our goal is to produce the best quality images and brand messages possible so that you and your organization shines and you will keep coming back to us for more great results!
Original content updated from CSB blog 3/3/15