With large format printing, a small preventable mistake on the screen can result in a big mistake in reality. Knowing what to check and get right before you print your PVC Banner, Wall Banner, Pull-Up Banners, X-Banners and Stickers, will help you prevent these mistakes. This post outlines exactly what you need to get right, to get the perfect large format print.
“Large format” generally refers to items that are 42cm wide, although we do offer some smaller sizes for some of our large format products. These items are usually printed on a roll of material like:
- PVC for banners
- Indoor/outdoor vinyl for stickers
- Paper for posters
- Rigid boards such as Correx, ABS and Chromadek for signage
The most common large format products are:
- Chromadek Boards
- Wall Banners
- Pull-up Banners
- PVC Banners
- Correx Boards
- ABS Boards
Here are the few things you can do to get the perfect large format print:
Get your images right
Always use high-resolution images, best practice is to use images with 100 dots per inch (DPI) or above. High-resolution images ensure that your images remain sharp and clear when scaled to a larger format.
On the topic of scaling, rather use vector graphics than JPG, JPEG and BMP images. What makes vectors more practical is that they are made up of paths, governed by mathematical equations, which allows them to scale to extremely large sizes without losing their sharpness. JPG, JPEG and BMP images, on the other hand, are comprised of individual pixels with a fixed location and colour values that can result in a distorted image when scaled.
[Related – 4 ways to save money on graphic design]
Get your colours right
Always optimise your large format colour choice for viewing from a distance. You want to ensure that it can be read, digested and understood easily. Therefore, use a background colour that creates a distinguishable contrast, and enhances your text and graphic elements. At the same time, you want to keep your colour scheme simple, by using 2 or 3 colours only, to avoid cluttering your design. Don’t use gradients as the subtle changes in colour can be lost when printed in a large format.
Ensure you save your colours in CMYK mode as most large formats are printed using the four colour process. Colours saved in RGB don’t always translate well when printing using the four colour process.
Get the right size
To avoid any scaling errors, you need to submit your artwork in the same format and aspect ratio of what your intended print. To calculate the aspect ratio, use the formula “Aspect Ratio = Width/Height”. If the artwork does not match the final aspect ratio, then your large format printing may display stretched or squashed images.
Get your fonts right
Your large format prints will be viewed from a distance. Therefore your font choice has to be optimised for ease of reading. Look out for the following when choosing your fonts:
- Fonts that have wide spacing between letters. This can make gaps between words less discernable.
- Fonts that have narrow spacing between letters. This makes it difficult to distinguish between the individual letters.
- Fonts that are extremely bold. These make the letters and words look crowded.
- Fonts that are extremely thin. These fonts might disappear into the background.
Look for these specific fonts for ease of reading:
- Times New Roman
[Related: Is your typography print ready?]
Always use a bleed area of at least 3mm. The bleed shows the printer where to cut without cutting into crucial text and graphics. A well-defined bleed can also create the illusion that the artwork and colours extend beyond the material. I.e. ‘bleed off the page’.
Print A Small Scaled Sample First
If your budget allows you can request a physical proof before the final print. Ensure you plan well ahead to avoid missing deadlines – especially if this is for an event.
If your budget is tight, then you can request an emailed proof, of the pre-checked artwork, before it is sent to production.
You can also request a plotter proof from the printer’s plotter machine. Note that this is an approximation of the final print and should not be used to check for colour quality, but to check for legibility instead. The colours printed by the plotter machine are not as vivid as a digital or litho machine.
Resize photos using photo editing software
This feature can result in heavy pixelation when printed. It’s safer to find high-resolution images instead.
Clutter your print
Clutter can obscure your message. Create space around your graphics and don’t overload your artwork with too much text. Try to keep the text to a headline and subheading. For extra information such as event details (date, time, location, etc.) structure this in an easy to read format, e.g. a table or bullet points.
[Related: Print-ready infographic]
Your large format print should be easy to read and understand from a distance. So, make sure that your text, colours and graphics are sharp, clear and scaled appropriately. Getting this right will deliver the impact promised by large format printing.
- 4 ways to save money on graphic design
- Is your typography print ready?
- Get print-ready for your next expo, trade show or community event
- Print-ready infographic