The Importance of Image Resolution


Why is Resolution Important to Your Digital Decorating Business?
Ever have a customer come into your shop and ask you to print a photo they downloaded off the web?  When you print the image, it looks pixelated and out of focus?

This isn’t something that you did wrong, but it is because the image was not at the right resolution.

Normally Web graphics are 72 dots per inch (dpi) and printed graphics are 300 dpi.  Why the difference?  The reason is because web graphics need to be small in size so that it can be downloaded and viewed quickly.  On your computer screen, 72 dpi is enough resolution, however when you print the images/graphics on paper or any other substrate, it will require approximately 300 dpi (more than 3 times the acceptable screen resolution).     This all has to do with the way the images are produced on your screen and on paper.  As a result, what may look good on the computer screen, may not look good when printed.

When a customer sends a file, ensure you check the resolution before printing it.  This will prevent you from wasting paper on poor resolution graphics and images.  In Photoshop, you can click image -> image size.  This will tell you the size of the graphic and its resolution.  In Corel Draw, you can check the resolution by selecting your image and then checking the bottom bar for the resolution, and the top left corner for the size of the image.

You can change the resolution of an image by shrinking it.  If you shrink the image by 10%, the resolution will increase by 10% and vice versa (ensure that resample image is off in Photoshop).  However, if you want to increase a 72dpi image to a 300dpi image, you would have to shrink it by more than 300%!  Example:  6” x 6” image at 72dpi = 1.44” x 1.44” image at 300dpi

Tips/Hints on Resolution
You are more likely to get away with low resolution images if you are printing onto a t-shirt.  It is harder to get away with low resolution images when printing onto a hard substrate as the smoothness of the surface will show the pixilation more.  In addition, photographs can hide low resolution much better than graphics, text, or solid color images.

If a customer sends you a vector file, you won’t have to worry about resolution because most vector graphics are resolution independent and they do not display dpi in your graphics program.  This is because vector graphics are not images but a series of formulas and numbers that can be scaled with very little problems.  Editable text in a graphic design program are normally vector graphics.

Some images may seem like 300dpi because it says it in your program, but someone may have forced a 72dpi image to a 300dpi, saved it and sent it to you.  If this is the case, it may still not print correctly.

As the old saying goes “garbage in, garbage out” sometimes if your customer sends you an image with low resolution, you simply have to set his/her expectations or flat out reject the image!

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Multi Decoration

What is Multi Decoration?  It’s when you combine two or three different technologies to decorate clothing.  An example of this would be combining cuttable heat transfer vinyl with transfer paper.

Multi Decoration is a great way to create custom one of a kind clothing pieces.  You can combine all the strengths of each technology in one piece of clothing.  For instance, cuttable transfer vinyl is great for lettering, but not so great with photographs.  On the other hand, dark laser transfer paper is great with photographs, but not as great for lettering.  So you can use both to create a design that would incorporate a photograph and lettering!

The image above was printed with MultiCut Ultra vinyl for the lettering, and CL Dark II for the photograph.

The advantage of this method compared with using only laser dark transfer paper is that I didn’t have to use a 11×17 sheet of laser dark paper (which would require me to use a laser printer that can print that size) and I didn’t have to use an optical eye on my cutter for the print-n-cut needed for the lettering if I were to use transfer paper.  In addition I’ve avoided the whole tacking procedure.

Also if I had chosen a metallic color (say gold or silver) for my lettering, I wouldn’t be able to do that with CL Dark II.

When using multi decoration, remember to try to keep the heat press off of the areas that have been imaged.  If there’s no way to keep the heat press off of imaged areas, ensure to heat press the items that need the highest temperatures first and do the ones with the lowest temperatures last.  Usually if you are combining transfer paper and transfer vinyl, you press heat transfer papers first (as they normally require high heat to apply), and then press heat transfer vinyl last (as they normally require much less heat to apply).  This will eliminate most problems with multi decoration.  And of course, test and wash one sample first before commercial production!

The difference between Paropy CL Dark Premium and CL Dark II

Have you ever wondered why Joto carries two laser dark transfer papers?

CL Dark Premium and CL Dark II may seem like the same paper with the same purpose, but they are not.  There are a lot of similarities in both papers. They both are for dark fabrics, which mean they are both a white opaque printable film with a backing sheet,  they both require cutting of the image or graphic, and both work in oil and non-oil laser printers and copiers.

The main difference of the paper is that one is applied at a significantly lower temperature than the other.  CL Dark II is applied at 255F for 10 seconds and CL Dark Premium is applied at 385F at 25 seconds.  Because of the lower temperature and time required, CL Dark II can be applied to more heat sensitive fabrics such as non-woven bags like the ones used at trade shows and grocery stores.  In addition, CL Dark II has the ability to produce two different finishes depending on what protective sheet you use when pressing.  When using a silicone sheet you will achieve a matte finish.  A gloss effect can be produced when using a gloss finishing sheet or when using our MuliTack tacking sheet.

With all the useful features of CL Dark II, why don’t we call that the premium paper?  Well it’s simple, the CL Dark Premium washes a little bit better, and the hand is also a tiny bit better than the CL Dark II.  Because most customers will be using laser dark transfer papers for shirts, the lower application temperature of CL Dark II is not that significant.

Having said that, the difference in hand and wash resistance although is better with the Dark Premium it does depend on the type of laser printer you are using.  We offer to sample customers both types of paper for their testing to ensure they can properly evaluate the image quality, hand and wash results on their piece of equipment.

The bottom line is that we want to give our customers the option to choose the right laser dark paper for their business.  Some people may want CL Dark II simply because the lower temperature and time works better for the products they are imaging; others may choose the CL Dark Premium because they found it washed better when tested.

Heck if you can’t decide, stock both the laser dark papers and let your customers decide which one is better!

CL Hard Surface – More than just the product

In sales, how the product is packaged is almost just as important as the product itself. Sometimes the packaging is the first thing someone sees and most of the time; it will sell the item for you.

Did you know that Hard Surface I & II can be used to image onto cardboard boxes and other packaging materials? Here’s a sample below of a mug gift box imaged with CL Hard Surface I. Imagine writing your own custom message on the box instead of a card. Wouldn’t that be a neat idea!

Imaged Mug Gift Box
Mug Box printed with CL Hard Surface I

You can image onto just about any box. For instance, you can image onto a water bottle, then image onto the box that it came in. Here’s a picture of the imaged box with CL Hard Surface II. For boxes that are more flimsy and not completely flat, we recommend using the CL Hard Surface II.

Water Bottle Box imaged with CL HS2
Water Bottle Box Imaged with CL Hard Surface II

In addition you can make your own brand packaging. Of course it is much cheaper to get boxes pre-printed; however pre-printed boxes require a minimum order. If you are just starting out or you don’t need a whole lot of preprinted boxes/packaging, this is the method for you. Print your company’s full color logo along with all your contact info on the box/package.

You can also do this with cardboard puzzle boxes! Print an image of the completed puzzle on the box itself!

Puzzle and Puzzle Box
Puzzle Box printed with CL Hard Surface II