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High resolution images in print

What are they and why are they important


The use of good quality, high res imagery in printed materials is often greatly under estimated.


Low resolution images frequently find there way into printed materials. It is easy to see why so many people struggle to understand the importance of providing high res images as quite often they are deceived by their desktop monitors. Looking at an image in a web browser is not the same as looking at it in a high quality glossy brochure.

The main analogy to concentrate on when this kind of issues pops up is that it is better to take away than try to add. Think of the image like cutting a piece of wood. If you cut too much off it can never be replaced but if you cut it to big you can always go back and remove some more until it fits.


Stock libraries (such as iStockphoto, Getty Images, Shutterstock etc) are a common source for many clients and design agencies alike. There is a temptation to go with the cheapest image, which unfortunately is usually the smallest file size (low res). With our analogy of it’s always better to take away than to add’ in mind, by far the best option is to go for the large or even largest file size you can get your hands on. Remember all the smaller file sizes can easily be created using the largest file size so while you may have spent $80.00 or more on a large image instead of $10.00 for the smallest image, that large image can be used to create an unlimited number of size variants. This could save you both time and money in the long term.


Lets take a look at this example of a low res image and note its key attributes.




The image is physically small in size and it has a file size of less that 2mb. When you zoom into the image it immediately becomes pixelated. The overall clarity of the image isn’t very sharp it may appear fluffy.

Now we can compare that with the below high res image, again lets note the key attributes.




The image is physically large in size and has a file size of over 4mb. It can be zoomed into considerably and still remain clear. The image is sharp and crisp with defined edges and strong light and dark contrast. You can clearly see the detail in the material of the chairs seat.


High resolution images provide an extra lift to any piece of print design and with a large variety of sources for stock images available there should be no need to resort to using low res images in printed materials.


If you are looking for free stock images then you could try Google’s advanced image search. The search form allows you to select from the usage rights menu at the bottom the option to search for images that are ‘free to use, share or modify, even commercially’. There is no guarantee of what you might find though and you will be very lucky to come across a high quality free image but they are out there if you are willing to hunt around. Another alternative would be to take your own photographs but again you need to be careful not to infringe copyright. For example things like landmarks and public buildings can only be used if you have a signed release form and the same goes for taking photographs of models/people they will need to sign a release form to show they agree that you can use the images for whatever you want.


Always keep in mind that you must check the rights before you use any image in your printed materials simply grabbing images from other peoples websites and even scanning images from books is considered derivative of someone else’s work and is in breech of copyright law. You can familiarise yourself with New Zealand copyright law by following this link


If you are ever in doubt about whether or not you have the rights to an image it is always best to purchase one yourself as opposed to risking a breech of copyright.


If you are looking to get your brochure designed and produced why not drop us an email, we can help source many types of high quality stock images or even create custom illustrations for your brochure.


If you’re looking for a design agency to create a brochure or leaflet design for your product that will get noticed, get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.


Get a quote for your brochure design

Maybe you don’t need a quote just yet but are interested in getting the most out of your current designers then download our free essential guide “Top 10 Tips when working with Designers”, an invaluable guide whoever you use.

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