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Top Tips on Finishing Your Images for Print

We’ve had a super response to our Charity Christmas Card Project and we can’t wait to make our final selection of photographs. If you want to get involved but aren’t sure where to start with preparing your images, our top tips will help you get your photographs print ready! It’s not too late to get involved in our project – you have until 15 August to submit your images. Read more information here.

Tip 1: Calibrate your monitor

Have you ever calibrated your monitor? When did you last do it? Monitors need to be calibrated regularly to ensure they give you an accurate representation of your image and what it will look like printed. Invest in a monitor calibration device to ensure you get what you want when printing!

Tip 2: Know your finished image size

When getting photographs ready to be printed, it’s really important to know what size you want your finished image to be. For example, at Orange Fig our cards are sized at 145mm square, but in order to allow for trimming and wraparound, the image needs to be 151mm square. (An extra 3mm on all edges is industry standard!). So always check the size of your finished card and the size of the image required. If you’re still unsure, you can always check with your printer.

Tip 3: Check your edges

With Tip 2 in mind, when cropping your image, carefully check your edges. The extra 3mm space around the edges is there to allow for printing tolerances, so keep any important details well within the final frame. Clean edges are vital for producing a beautiful card.

Insight: we had some problems with this card by Jen Rogers and making sure the posts at the edges were not chopped off in the final print run. Extra attention to detail can avoid expensive mistakes!

Tip 4: Check your image at 100% for dust spots

There is nothing worse than missing a dust spot! It will ruin your printed image. Take the time to view your image at 100% and carefully check for any minor distractions that could detract from your finished work.

Tip 5: Check your Blacks & Whites

When printing your image, it is vitally important to check the extremes of your histogram. You need to ensure there are no solid blacks or whites present, as these would look ugly when you print your image. It’s an easy fix:

  • In Photoshop add a levels adjustment and set your output maximum to 5 and 250.
  • In Lightroom use your curves to set your curve to start at 5 and finish at 95
Orange Fig Pink Sunset Reflections Greetings Card Front

Tip 6: Know your colour space

Colour is complex and confusing! When processing photographs we usually work in the RGB colour space. This is the best method for editing photographs and bringing out the best colour in your image. However, before printing, images need to be converted and matched to the printing process. Most printing methods use CMYK which can result in a loss of some colours. Make sure you know which colour profile will be used for your images and get the profile installed in your workspace. Check with your printer if you are unsure!

Insight: We found some striking images looked a little washed out once converted, but with a little tweaking they came out beautifully once printed. We highly recommend learning more about colour space and image conversion because it will help you print the best possible image.

Tip 7: Image resolution

Image resolution should be matched to your printer’s requirements, but this usually needs to be between 200dpi and 300dpi (dots per inch). Make sure that your finished image can print at the right resolution without having to be enlarged. Otherwise, it could end up pixellated or blurred. For a greetings card (unless you have severely cropped your original image) you’re unlikely to have problems with image resolution. The same will not be true for large prints and more care will be needed.

Tip 8: Sharpen your image as the final step, but don’t overdo it!

Sharpening increases the contrast on the edges in your images to make it appear sharper. Sharpening will need to be applied very lightly to most images but too much sharpening will ruin a beautiful image. Photographers can often over-sharpen their images, so tread carefully!

Do you have any great top tips for printing? Share them in the comments below!