Submitting Digital Files for Reproduction

Subsequently, I vowed never to assume anything and to ask as many questions as needed, to ensure I could, with the best of my ability, predict the outcome.

File types:

The decision to submit RGB or CMYK must be seriously considered. If you are new to digital capture then I recommend submitting RGB, with an embedded profile such as Adobe RGB. If you understand the more technical concepts such as: ink limits, GCR, gray balance, web press versus sheetfed and you have had a conversation with the printer then it is advisable to supply CMYK.

Submit RGB in: 8 bit, Adobe 1998 RGB colour space with the profile embedded. For CMYK use the supplied profiles in Photoshop that best describe the final printing condition, i.e. U.S Sheetfed Coated v2 or U.S Web Coated (SWOP) v2. Always learn as much as you can about the printing conditions. And know about dot gain!

Use the Convert to Profile option instead of using Mode and convert to CMYK.

Eps or tiff files are both recommended file types. Tiff files are 15-25% smaller than eps files. Do not supply jpeg’s.

Industry expert Bruce Fraser, co-author of Real World Color Management suggests that “At this stage in the evolution of the industry, the only rule of thumb for supplying RGB is, don’t even think about doing it unless you have an ironclad guarantee from the recipient that they know how to handle it. If the recipients know how to handle it, any profiled RGB space should work just fine. If the recipients open supplied RGB in Photoshop 4 and convert to CMYK on default settings (which is more common than one would hope) all RGB spaces are equally dangerous.”

File Size:

Be aware that most art directors and clients do not have super-computers and consequently opening 20, 30, 48mb files to make final selections is impossible. If you are submitting images for monitor review only, reduce the files to less than 3mb, keep them in RGB 8 bit and save as jpegs with maximum compression.

For submission for print, submit the maximum, non-interpolated file size available. Always submit 8 bit files for print. There are no printers that can print beyond 8 bits.


Files should be set to a resolution of 300 ppi (or dpi) for 150-line screen-printing. Ideally you want a resolution that is double the line-screen of the print job. The images being captured on the high-end digital backs are so low in grain that it is possible to interpolate the images up.


If you are shooting with a digital back such as Phase or Imacon, apply a small amount of sharpening at the capture stage. Always evaluate how the sharpening will affect each image. Apply further sharpening only after your colour correction and retouching is completed. For 300 dpi images start with a USM setting of 100, 1.5 & 2. Again evaluate the impact and adjust the sharpening to fit the image. Don’t over sharpen and watch for halos in high-contrast areas.

Recommendations for photographers when submitting images

Submit only the final selections and not all images captured. Give your files relevant names so that the final selection process for the art director or client is painless and fast.

For fast and efficient viewing of your digital images, consider using the Photoshop Web Gallery option found under File /Automate /Web Photo Gallery. Your gallery can be viewed on any Internet browser. Images load quickly and can be presented with contact information and email links. The Web Photo Gallery also offers a Feedback option, a great tool for communicating with the client or art director.

Colour Management

Insist that your files are opened in Photoshop 6 or higher(!) and ask that your profiles be honored (preserved) and not discarded when opening. Also ask nicely that anyone opening your images change their Color Settings in Photoshop to “US Prepress defaults.”

Embed your profile when saving your images.

Set your color settings to U.S. Prepress defaults.

Calibrate your monitor with a hardware/software solution.

Digital Proofs

A printout from a $99 desktop printer does not qualify as a digital proof.   Here are a few recommendations for supplying digital proofs:

•    Avoid glossy media. Semi-gloss or semi matte paper works best.

•    Create a custom ICC profile for your printer using high quality software and hardware.

•    Frequently, check your output to a known prepress standard: Dupont WaterProof or Fuji Final Proof are two options.

•    Use the Relative Colorimeteric rendering intent for all conversions and printing.