Your ecommerce store’s success greatly depends on the quality of your products. While our quality guarantee, carefully selected production partners, cutting-edge technology and premium materials do part of that job, the quality of the file that you upload is crucial for your products to look their very best.
Not only will a well-prepared print file help your products shine, but you’ll reduce the risk of your order being delayed due the design not meeting our requirements. This article summarizes some of the best tips from our in-house graphic experts on how to prepare the perfect print file, and which common mistakes you can so easily avoid.
Let’s first get the terminology straight. In our guidelines you may see references to the following words, and we have created this overview to make it a little easier to understand the world of print files:
Print size: In the world of printing, size matters. When we refer to print size in our help articles and specifications, this is the actual size of the image as it’ll come out printed on the product. It’s measured in inches (typically used in North America) or centimeters (for the rest of the world).
Image file size: The size of the file is measured in bytes. It tells you how much space the image takes up on a disk or drive.
Pixel: This is a unit of measurement for digital images you see on a screen. Pixel dimensions express the total number of pixels along a digital image’s width (vertical) and height (horizontal).
Resolution: Resolution expresses the density of pixels or dots in an image. For digital images, resolution is expressed in PPI—pixels per inch. For printed images, resolution is expressed in DPI—dots per inch.
DPI (dots per inch): This is a term used to identify the quality of the file when printed. While digital devices display images in pixels, printers print images in dots. DPI is calculated using your digital image’s pixel dimensions and digital image size. The higher the DPI is, the sharper the print.
Our number one tip is to always check the print file specifications that are listed for each product in the product catalog. Not only will this save you time troubleshooting which format or sizes to use because we have spelled it all out for you, but it will help ensure that your designs truly wow your customers and look their very best.
There are two different ways to create files that are printable with Gelato. Either you can create the design directly in our design editor, or you can import an existing ready-to-print PDF file.
If you are uploading a print-ready file with your design, you can click on the “Upload your print” button on the product page. Here you’ll be able to upload your files as a PDF. Once you have uploaded the file you won’t be able to correct, resize or adjust it, which means that your file must be the exact size to fit the product format you selected. All PDF files must adhere to these requirements to ensure that all customers get the same high quality product every time.
To create a new design, click on the “Design your print”-button on the product page. You are now in the design editor. Here you can upload images or add text, and you will be able to move, resize them and make other adjustments. Keep in mind that all files you upload must be either PDF, PNG or JPGs. You can also select images from Shutterstock’s library of more than 360 million visual assets directly in the design editor.
We recommend designing posters and all non-paper products such as canvas, apparel, mugs, acrylic, metallic, using sRGB image files, as this will help preserve the greatest possible vibrancy from the images when the product is printed. For small format digital printing such as brochures and business stationery, we recommend using CMYK image files.
All our production partners adhere to our ‘Gelato Standard,’ which ensures the smallest possible amount of color transformations - i.e. shading changes or other deviations from your source design. Our print partners calibrate their machines with these Gelato settings to make sure that every product has the same finish - no matter where in the world it is produced.
To guarantee quality, you should always use images with the right resolution. There is no maximum file size on Gelato, but you should ensure that your image has a minimum DPI of at least 150, but ideally - for best printing - at least 300 DPI.
Without this, as the image dimensions grow or are stretched, the DPI - or number of dots per inch - can dramatically shrink, meaning a lower quality image. To help you, there is a ‘warnings’ section in our Gelato ‘Design Editor,’ which automatically checks any uploaded image resolution and shows an alert if needed. You can find more info about uploading image files here.
If the uploaded file is printed as blurry then it is likely due to the original file being imperfect, or that the image having been cropped from a zoomed image. Blurriness is not always easy to notice. We recommend that you check images at the design stage by zooming in on the image. If the image quickly appears fuzzy then it means it is insufficiently sharp. The best option, in this case, would be to replace the image with a different one. You can either find a brand new image that has a better DPI, or settle on using the image on a smaller scale than originally intended.
If your image appears pixelated, it might be due to it being too low a resolution. Files with a quality of less than 150 DPI can look pixelated and with poor quality.
We recommend you use solid colours and avoid semi-transparent or translucent images as these simply don’t transfer well to fabrics. Though it might sound obvious, avoid printing a black design on black fabric (or white on white).
There are some hard rules for quality textile printing using Gelato:
While this may be a lot of information at once, the key takeaway from this article should be to always follow the print file specifications listed for each product in the catalog. You can also find more resources in our Help Centre if you want to dig deeper into for example the design requirements for your PDF uploads, or which formats to upload your files in.
We are always here to help with any questions you may have and are ready to support you and your business as you scale and expand your store with more beautiful products. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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