Have you ever asked your designer to pull a logo or image from your or one of your affiliates’ websites, only to receive a blank stare? This is because your designer understands that the use of web images is not a good practice, and it will very well degrade the overall professionalism of your mail piece design.
So why exactly are web images such a no-no?
To start with, you need to understand what makes up a digital photo. All digital photographic images (including website images) are created of hundreds of pixels. These pixels are incredibly small and should be completely invisible to the naked eye when you are viewing an image at full size. If you were to zoom in very closely on a digital image you could see each pixel and how each one’s color slowly shifts to provide optical illusions of smooth color transitions that make up your photo.
Web images are saved at 72 or 96dpi (dots—or pixels—per inch) because web browsers view at this resolution, and print images are saved at 300dpi. When a print designer is asked to take an image from a website, it must be scaled up from 72dpi to 300dpi, which essentially means each pixel will be enlarged to three times its original size. This creates a “pixelization” effect. Pixelation appears because the pixels that make up the image have been enlarged so much that you are now actually starting to see each one individually and the smooth optical illusion breaks down. The information in the image has essentially been stretched to such a degree that there are now gaps in the display of the pixel information, and no amount of “photoshopping” can supplement this lost information. Because the pixels are now over-sized, pixelated images will appear blurry in print, which does very little to enforce the professionalism of your organization.
To avoid this problem, all individuals who are involved in coordination of print design should make sure you always keep a copy of the native, high resolution image files on your hard drive or on a back-up disc. This way, when your you or your designer needs high-resolution images, you will be able to access them quickly and easily.