Images for Large Format Printing

We get a lot of requests to convert photos to vector format. One of the reasons is that some printer's guidelines state that in order to print good quality images in large format, such as signs and banners or vehicle wraps, high resolution or scalable vector graphics are required.

Maybe a little clarification is needed because vector graphics are drawings, so converting a photo to vector means making a drawing of the photo and that isn't necessarily what is needed or wanted.

If the images you want printed in large format are:

A. Photos Images that are captured with a camera need to be supplied inhigh resolution(large image*) format. Photos are not scalable so simply enlarging a small image will result in a poor quality large image. The photo must have been taken with a high quality setting on the camera, so that it will be the size needed for the project, or larger. Your printer should be able to tell you the pixel dimension (photo size) needed for the specific project. Photo to…

Lost your image file? No problem!

If you do not have a digital file of your graphic but you have access to an item with the graphic printed on, embroidered on, tattooed on, or otherwise visible on an item, we may be able to reproduce your image in multiple formats including vector AI, CDR, EPS, SVG and more.

Take a photo of the item with the graphic on it and email it to us. A scan of the item would work much better because there won't be any distortion* but we can also work with a photo as a last resort.

*Distortion Problems
When using a photograph of a graphic as a reference, rather than a flat scan, the photographs will show the graphic in perspective (distorted). We will have to guess as to how the artwork might have looked originally.

If at all possible, a flat scan of the product with the graphic on it will work best.

If a scan is not available, we can still try to correct any distortion but the new graphic we create will most likely not be identical to your original file if we do not have the original to com…

Raster vs Vector

There are two main type of image files: Raster and Vector. Raster images are created with pixel-based programs or captured with a camera or scanner. They are more common in general such as jpg, gif, png, and are widely used on the web. Vector graphics are created with vector software and are common for images that will be applied onto a physical product. Also used in CAD, engineering, and 3D graphics.

When using a raster program you paint an image and it's similar to dipping a brush in paint and painting. You can blend colors to soften the transition from one color to another.

When using a vector program you draw the outline of shapes: and it's similar to creating an image with tiles of all different shapes and sizes. e.g. an eye shape, a nose shape, a lip shape. These shapes called objects display one single color each.

A lot of images can be made with either raster or vector program and look exactly the same on both programs. Images with a subtle gradation of one color to an…

Vector for Engraving

A lot of our vector drawings are for engravers who tell us they will use the vector file for relief engraving, laser engraving, sandblasting, etching, or cutting. I am guessing these are some of the few process left that require vector art. Although I have never actually used an engraving machine or tool, I have been preparing vector graphics since 2000 for many different purposes including engraving and sign cutting. Below is a recent engraving project The image engraved on this stone needs to be reproduced in vector format
This is the vector drawing as per Engraver specifications
Engraver work in progress
Final engraved product
See the project from beginning to end, including errors and corrections that needed to be done before the vector drawing was appropriate for the particular process:

Photo to Vector Conversion

Manual vectorization with soft color blends Here is an example of a recent vectorization from photo to vector (raster to vector). This drawing was for screen printing and, for this particular project, it didn't have to be drawn using only vectors. In addition to drawing with vectors, some vector graphics programs also have tools that allow you to use pixel-based, raster (non-vector) elements such as soft color blends & shading/highlights. A graphic that is created with a vector drawing program but also includes pixel-based smooth color blends and soft shading is not a 100% vector graphic, or a true vector graphic; it contains both raster and vector elements. See Raster vs Vector

Photographs are raster graphics made with pixels: a multitude of different color pixels create a realistic image. Vector graphics are drawings made with objects: lines and curves that create shapes. When a photo is vectorized, it means a drawing of the photo is being made and, in most cases, the new ve…

High Resolution Image for Printing

What is a high resolution image?

Common image files such as jpg, gif, png, tif, psd, bmp, are measured in pixels.

The resolution of a pixel-based graphic is the number of pixels within an inch: PPI (pixels per inch)

Whether the image has high enough resolution depends on the process being used. Generally, offset printers (paper printing) require a minimum of 300 ppi, screen printers (cloth printing) require 240 ppi.

In order to determine whether an image is high enough resolution, you need to know 3 things:
Your image's pixel dimensions (e.g 850 pixels wide)The printed size desired (e.g. want to print a 4 inch image on paper)The resolution required by the process your image will go through (e.g. printing 300 minimum ppi)
ASSUMING RESOLUTION NEEDED IS 300 PPI  If your image is: (pixels wide)
It can be printed in good quality at: (inches wide) 100
0.333 200
0.667 300
1 400
1.333 500
1.667 600
2 700
2.333 800
2.667 900
3 1000
3.333 1500
5 2000
6.667 2500
8.333 3000
To determine the…

Photo to vector for engraving

The only thing I know about engraving is that the vector artwork needs to be created in black and white line-art, and depending on the size of the actual engraving, real small detail should be avoided. There is actually a lot of small detail on the image below and I was sure the engraver was going to reject it but the plaque must have been large enough to hold all the detail. 

Some challenges may arise when changing a multi-color image to black and white LINEART (not black and white grayscale). Elements in the graphic will no longer be defined by different color or shades of gray, they have to be black or white only and you will have to decide which elements are black and which elements are white. Using outlines instead of fills usually works to separate two objects of similar color.

When images are on a color background, removing the background may make the overall feel of the image look different. After playing around with these elements I got a winner.