Custom printed lanyards are becoming a hot item at conferences, tradeshows and sporting events. In fact, it seems that almost no surface is immune to branding these days – if you can print on it, why not put your brand on it, right? But, when it comes to promotional items, there are few terms you should know that will help you communicate with your graphic designer to achieve the best results.
Raster Images vs. Vector Images
Raster and vector are the two main image types that most people are familiar with. One is predominantly used for onscreen manipulation while the other is best used for printing. It may seem like a small detail, but the type of image you save your file as can have a big impact on the quality of your print.
Raster Images: Raster images are also known as bitmap images and are made up of thousands of pixels. When they are enlarged beyond their capacity, they can sometimes look blurry and “pixelated”. Raster images are good for color manipulation, but when it comes to resizing for print, they may not be your best choice.
Vector Images: Vector images are different from raster images in that they are made up of points instead of pixels. Each point has a defined x and y coordinate and are connected to form shapes, kind of like connect the dots except with thousands of dots in some cases.
These shapes can be filled with color, the benefit being that these shapes can be resized without reducing the quality of the image. When it comes to printing custom lanyards, event badges or any other type of promotional materials, vector images are the key to getting the best quality.
CMYK vs. RGB
Bright, clean, crisp colors – that’s what will really make your lanyards really stand out. And, if you want to make sure that the orange in your logo doesn’t turn into more of a salmon color once printed, you’ll want to know the difference between CMYK and RGB.
CMYK: For the uninitiated, CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, key (key refers to black). These are the four standard colors that most printers are designed to produce. The reason for this goes back to the days of the printing press when colors were laid down in layers by plates. Today, digital printers use spot colors and that, along with a CMYK color field allow for a wider spectrum of hues and Pantone specific colors – even when printing on custom lanyards.
RGB: If you’re reading this on a computer, everything you see on screen is the product of RGB color combinations, or red, green, blue. Although many of today’s printers can be configured to print in RGB, files should still be configured to print in CMYK color. This is because RGB refers to the colored light that your computer screen gives off, whereas CMYK refers to colored ink. Printing a file that is configured for RGB on a CMYK printer will mean that your colors will shift and you may end up with colors that are, in some cases, quite different from what you intended.
DPI vs. PPI
Resolution refers to the clarity or quality of your image – there are two main terms that you need to know when it comes to talking about resolution: DPI and PPI.
DPI: This stands for “dots per inch” and refers to the number of dots on a printed page. Generally, the denser the dots per inch on a printed item, the higher the quality of your image. We suggest that your files be a minimum of 300 DPI for custom printed lanyards in order to preserve the quality of your design.
PPI: If you guessed that PPI stands for “pixels per inch”, then you would be correct. PPI refers to the quality of images as they are seen on a screen since computer screens read images in terms of pixels. You may also have noticed the connection between pixel image formats for computers and dot-based formats for print. PPI is a good format to use when designing an image, but you’ll want to make sure to switch over to DPI before you send your file to print.