Create Print Ready Display Graphics

Create Print Ready Display Graphics

Ready, Set, Print.

Create print ready display graphics. Getting your graphics right the first time will eliminate headaches and help you avoid costly mistakes.


Know what your creating. A brochure is not a banner stand. And a banner stand is not a back wall mural.

Illustrator and Photoshop are better for large format graphics. InDesign is better for brochures and catalogs.

Illustrator for your layout work and final file. Photoshop for image preparation.


Know your company standards for colors, fonts, logo treatments and placement.

Set and save your corporate colors in your color pallet in Illustrator and Photoshop so you don’t have to recreate them with every file.

Use Pantone colors NOT CMYK settings. Specific Pantone colors are the printing industry standard.

Using CMYK values won’t always tell us what to match to.


Inspect your logos and images.

Logos are best as vector formats, i.e. created in Illustrator. They can be enlarged infinitely without loss of quality.

Images need to be at least 100 pixels per inch at 100% size for good reproduction. A 125 to 150 pixels per inch is even better.

Check the overall image balance. Start with “Auto Tone”, “Auto Contrast” and “Auto Color”.

As needed we adjust the following for each image:

  • levels on black, white and grey
  • curves for shadows and highlights
  • brightness and contrast
  • hue and saturation
  • color balance

Edit your images for dirt and anything that needs removed. Crop for content and size.

TIP: If the image is a blotchy JPEG (looks like a skin rash) then the image is likely not the original. JPEG images that are saved multiple times get worse with each generation. Use the original and largest file available if you can.


Use a template. We have many on our site and are always adding more. If it’s not there, we’ll make one for you.

Our templates typically have one layer for notes, one layer for the template, compete with sizes and bleeds, and the other for the design (usually labeled “Design Here”).

Create your graphic on the design layer.

TIP: Turn on and off the template layer to view your design as you work on it.

Add other design layers, as needed, one for photos or text or colored backgrounds. When you combine all elements on one layer, it makes it hard to work with individual items and something can be accidentally deleted or altered that you did not not intend.

NOTE: You can create multiple graphics in one file for consistency. Everything will be correctly aligned. Create layers for changing content, i.e. images and text.

But, when you’re finished, save out each graphic as a separate file, so your printer doesn’t print the wrong elements.


Send your files to us in the native software. Don’t “save as” something else.

This allows us to inspect your files thoroughly and possibly fix errors before we print.

Don’t forget to include all your elements, i.e. images and fonts.

Image Libraries and Resources

Image Libraries and Resources

If It’s Worth A Thousand Words, Then Your Image Matters.

Royalty free image resource libraries are and affordable resource for your images and illustrations.

Image Types

  • Original photography
  • Hand illustrations
  • Computer illustrations
  • Royalty-free stock images
  • Rights managed stock images

Original Work

Nothing beats an original image.  It’s your custom image, exclusive to you and designed to create the impact.

Good, professional photographers and artists are worth the money you pay them.  Be clear in your expectations of what you want from them and the scope of the project.  Look at their portfolio to see if their skill match you needs.

You also need to be clear about ownership and copyright laws regarding original work.  Discuss this up front so there is no misunderstanding of who owns the original work.

Stock Images

There are basically two types of licensing for images, rights managed and royalty-free.

Rights managed licensing is the rental of images that are more exclusive than royalty-free and also have a higher investment.  The license is generally limited in use and time frame, and the investment is determined by the use.  You are not likely to see your competition using the same image like you might with royalty-free licenses.

If you’re budget is tight, then consider royalty-free licenses for your images.  You buy it once and use it all you want for your marketing materials.  The upside is the price is right and legal side is simple.  The down side is your images may not be available as big as you need them for large format images and you might see the same image on your competitors booth at the same show.

Image Libraries and Resources

If you want to buy these and hand them to us, that’s fine.  Talk with us about the resolution we will need for your graphics.  Or, let us handle the project for you.  We’ll handle the purchase as part of our design services and give you the image file when we’re done.

Avoid Ugly Exhibit Graphics

Avoid Ugly Exhibit Graphics

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Some tips and guidelines to help you avoid ugly exhibit graphics when you start your design work.

Image Dos

  • Digital Camera’s – Use high-end digital cameras that capture at least 20 megabytes of data
  • Be sure your camera is set for highest quality images
  • Licensed Images – Get the biggest file(s) available

Image Don’ts

  • Don’t save JPEG’s as JPEG’s.  They get worse with each generation.
  • Work from original TIFF files and “save as” the format you need whenever possible.
  • Avoid images less than 20 megabytes
  • Don’t start with ugly images, they don’t get prettier when they’re bigger
  • Forget images copied from your web site or anybody else’s
  • Don’t “res-up” small image files to bigger files, they just get worse
  • Avoid images from PowerPoint or Word
  • Don’t scan from printed brochures, get the original image

Logo Dos

  • Provide logos as a “vector’ file format, i.e. Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia Freehand or CorelDraw. These can be scaled for almost any size without loss of quality.

Logo Don’ts

  • Forget logos copied from your web site
  • Don’t use logos from PowerPoint or Word

Better Gradients in Adobe Illustrator

Printing large format graphics with gradients made in Illustrator can produce banding effects.

But there are some steps you can take to minimize banding.

  • Go into the “Object” menu
  • Go down to “Blend” and open “Blend Options”
  • For “Spacing” select “Specified Steps” and set the numeric field to 1000 (the maximum)

Save the file as an EPS.

  • In the EPS Options box select “Compatible Gradient Printing” under Options
  • Also select “LanguageLevel 3” for the Adobe Postscript setting.

These settings will maximize what Illustrator can do with a gradient blend.  But, will not eliminate the possibility of banding for really big graphics.

Basically, if you see banding in the art on your monitor it will show up in the print.

If this doesn’t work, try Photoshop.

Create your gradient effect in Photoshop at a high resolution setting, minimum of 150 pixels per inch at final size.

Then place that image in your Illustrator document.  Some effects work better with this approach.

Color Matching

If color is critical, supply a color printout and/or PMS (Pantone Matching System) color references for color matching.

Flattened files (usually saved as JPEG’s) and files with embedded images can only be color corrected for the overall graphic.

This sometimes causes “crossover” where one color shifts while correcting for another. We cannot fix crossover without extensive digital editing time and charges.

To avoid crossover in colors, provide files in their native software format with layers and appropriate support files.  Don’t “save as” something else.


Electronic proofs of your “print-ready” files included.

Electronic proofs only confirm content not color.  Due do the lack of color calibration in between monitors, electronic proofs are not accurate for color matches.

If we create or change your artwork, you’ll get an electronic proof for approval via e-mail.

Physical proofs are provided upon request at an additional charge.

Before We Print Your Artwork

Before We Print Your Artwork

Saving your art files doesn’t mean they are ready to print.

Here’s a checklist to ensure your files are ready.

If you supply “print-ready” artwork

  • the artwork is to size or scale
  • includes all elements
  • is the correct resolution and format, see artwork guidelines
  • has specified Pantone colors (if you don’t specify, it’s our best guess)

If we design your graphics

  • we need all the content you want us to use before we begin
  • we meet and/or talk about your project
  • you get electronic proofs of your new graphics
  • refinements are made from your feedback
  • upon approval, we print and deliver your project

If you only have a logo, nothing at all, or hate what you have

  • let’s talk, the more we learn the better we do
  • you get an estimate based upon the scope of the project
  • you say go and we get busy
  • we’ll present electronic or printed proofs of your new graphics
  • refinements are made from your feedback
  • upon approval, we print and deliver your project

Billable services

  • all file and artwork fixes that you authorize
  • e-proofs on all client changes and fixes
  • all printed proofs
  • layout and design time, including customer edits
  • image searches, original photography and illustration
  • copy writing
  • CAD work, technical drawings, 3D presentations
  • concept development
  • project management on your behalf

Artwork Tips and Guidelines

Artwork Tips and Guidelines

Get your art files “print-ready” with these artwork tips and guidelines for your trade show exhibit graphics.

Print Ready Files

  • You’ve done all the preparation, i.e. sized, cropped, designed, etc.
  • We simply process and print your files. File setup fees will apply.
  • Be sure to scale your graphic to size, include crop/trim marks, and provide all “Coated” PMS (Pantone) color references.
  • Include all support files, i.e. images, screen and printer fonts. Convert all fonts to outline or supply printer fonts (MAC FONTS ONLY).
  • Art charges will apply to files we have to get print-ready.

Accepted Software

  • Adobe Illustrator CC (saved as AI, EPS or editable PDF)
  • CorelDraw files converted to AI or EPS.
  • Digital images must be 100 – 120 pixels per inch at the final reproduction size or they will reproduce poorly.
  • Don’t save JPEGS as JPEGS. They will get worse with each generation.
  • Supply images as support files.  Do not embed the images in your artwork.
  • NOT ACCEPTED:  InDesign, Word and Publisher files.

Digital Logos

  • Provide your logos in “vector” software formats, i.e. AI, EPS or editable PDF.
  • Include Coated PMS (Pantone) color references.  DO NOT CONVERT TO CMYK.
  • TIP – Image files of your logos placed in submitted artwork will not usually work.  They are still image files and will reproduce poorly when they are enlarged for large format printing.


  • Write it down.  Tell us what you want to say.
  • Send it in an e-mail.
  • Send a Word or Pages document.


  • Original RAW camera files with high quality settings get the best results.  The file also needs to be the largest possible file you have.
  • Images from web pages do not work and may be illegal.
  • Stock images are available in traditional and royalty-free licenses on the Internet.  Buy the largest digital file available.

Rush Charges

  • Sometimes rush charges cannot be avoided.
  • It depends upon our work load and the status of your artwork.
  • Turnaround times begin from “final proof approval” not when you hand us your artwork.

Image Quality and Resolution

  • Low resolution and poor quality images don’t magically improve when you save them as a larger file. Call us. We have tricks to optimize quality.

Related Articles

Tips for Effective Exhibit Design

Ten Tips for Effective Exhibit Design

Common Sense Rules for Great Looking Exhibits

  • Keep it simple
  • Make it big
  • Make it colorful
  • Minimize words
  • Maximize pictures
  • Use lots of light
  • Make it move, if you can
  • Use sound, if it makes sense
  • Make it as tall as show rules allow
  • Keep you main message above waist level

A Few Thoughts on Graphics

The most common graphic error new exhibitors make is to turn their trade show display into a bulletin board, covered with small signs, pictures, ads and brochures. This is ugly and ineffective.

  • Don’t put up any picture or sign smaller than 16″ x 20″.
  • Limit your solid-text signs to about 25 words; bulleted text to no more than 5 or 6 single-line statements.
  • Use large type – at least 1″ letters.
  • Everything in your convention booth should be able to be seen and read from at least 15 feet away.

A Few Thoughts on Physical Space

Another common error exhibitors often make is to pack to much into too little booth space.

Keep in mind that a person needs about 50 square feet of “elbow room” to work.

In a 10′ x 10′ space there is room for up to 4 people.  Add a booth and you’re now down to 2 or 3 people for staff and customers, depending upon the booth setup.

Add product demo’s and computer stands you have very little room in your booth.

Take as little as needed to do business, or consider more space that better fit your goals.