How to Provide Your Digital Artwork in the Correct Format

Thursday, January 10, 2013
So you have been asked to provide artwork and don't know where to begin? Many graphics orientated industries such as printing, awards, and signage require digital artwork in specific file formats. This is essential in order to obtain high quality imagery on your end product. Here is a quick guide on what you need to know in order to correctly fulfill that next artwork request.
Before we talk about vendor requirements for your artwork, let's discuss what they probably don't want. Most often, providing your artwork in the form of a physical business card, letterhead, photocopy, website art, or a photograph is not ideal, and generally will not work. These examples are not considered "original artwork" which typically is required. Remember, someone created your art, and it's up to you to find out where it originated, and if it is available digitally. If you can find the originator or original art, you will save yourself a lot of work, and will likely be able to provide your art to your vendor per their requirements.
Regardless of file format, most vendors will require vector art. Open your artwork on your computer and zoom in very, very closely. If your art is composed of small dots it is likely a bitmap image, and is NOT a vector image. A vector image is made up of lines, and if you zoom in very close on your image you will see that the graphic is still very crisp and clean with no blurry dots. Another way to check is by taking your art and increasing the size about 10-20 times. If the "blown up" image is still as crisp, clean and detailed as when it was small, you likely have a vector image. If it becomes blurry the bigger it gets, your image is likely a bitmap. Another way to check, if your file has any of the following extensions, it is likely a bitmap: .bmp, .jpg, .gif

So your image is a bitmap and you don't know what to do? Bitmap images may be acceptable if they are high resolution bitmaps in the 300-600 dpi range. Keep in mind that some more complicated art may need to be a bitmap image in order to achieve the visual effects desired, but will still need to be high resolution. In addition, some vendors may have conversion software, where they can convert the bitmap art into vector art. This conversion software can often take art from a scanned business card or from the internet. There are also many businesses on the internet where you can provide your digital bitmap file in various formats, and they will convert your art to vector art. Go to Google and search for "vector art conversion" and you will find many available options for this service. Lastly, perhaps you don't need to convert to vector... check with your vendor to see if your bitmap image is workable.
Your vector or high resolution bitmap image will need to be in a specified file format. Usually, most vendors will ask for your art to have one of the following file format (Adobe Illustrator),.cdr (Corel Draw), .pdf (portable document format), or .eps (encapsulated postscript). Whatever program you are able to open your artwork up in, you should be able to "save as" or "export" as one of these file formats. Be sure to convert any text to curves. Please understand, that taking a low resolution bitmap file and saving it as a higher resolution .eps or .ai file does not improve the resolution of the art, nor does it turn it into a vector file.
If your still at a loss and cannot provide artwork per the vendors specifications, you may have to have it re-created. Re-creating art can be expensive as you most likely will have to have the a graphic artist do this for you. Plan on spending $50-$100 per hour for this service, and once provided, have them save several copies in various formats for future use. In the end, you want to supply artwork in an economical and efficient manner, and hopefully some of the suggestions offered in this article can help you with this goal.


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