Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do I supply a "Ready-To-Print" file?
2. How large do you print and on what media?
3. What's your print resolution?
4. What are your hours?
5. Can I send files by Internet?
6. Do you offer pickup and delivery?
7. At what resolution should a photo be saved for output?
8. At what size document should I design to enlarge for a poster?
9. When should I mount or laminate my print?
10. When will my job be done?
11. What is a "Ready to Print" file?

1. How do I supply a "Ready-To-Print" file?
Platforms: Mac or PC
File Format:     FTP Transfer
Flash Drive
CD/DVD
Email

We accept most major design program file formats (see below regarding MS Office programs). Your file preparation to a large extent determines the quality of your output, so here are some guidelines to get your file to a “ready to print” state:

When Preparing Files:

  • Include all fonts used in documents or imported graphic, including true type, screen and printer fonts.
  • Include all linked graphics files.
  • Please include only files that are going to be printed. Please label files so they are identifiable.
  • All colors should be specified as CMYK process color. For best color results, please provide a color proof, and – if you are trying to match to a PMS color, please provide a PMS color chip.
  • Please provide a black and white or color proof. We do not guarantee the output of any prints run without a proof. Please specify all color matches, final output size, and finishing instructions on your proof.

ALSO

  • Please provide a stamped self addressed envelope for the return of your disk. Please send us only a copy of your artwork – DO NOT SEND THE ORIGINAL! As a rule, we do not archive artwork.

Program-Specific File Recommendations:

Photoshop:

  • Rasterized/bitmapped images should be saved at 100 dpi at 100% (see #7 below for more information)
  • If files are not at this size, we will do one of three things:
    • Charge for file enlargement to improve file size for adequate image quality
    • Proceed at your authority but your images may appear pixelized
    • Put the job on hold until we receive new images

Illustrator:

  • Please do not save as an EPS.
  • Set attributes high (i.e. Illustrator = 9600)
  • Use extra blacks (e.g. 30% magenta, 30% cyan, 100% black).
  • Please do not parse files.

Business Software:
MS Office programs (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and Access) and similar programs (e.g. Publisher, WordPerfect) are not design programs. This means that sometimes your page layout, but more often your colors, will not print as they appear on your monitor screen or as they print from your desktop printer. Please do not expect color matching in these programs.

2. How large do you print and on what media?
For most indoor applications, we print up to 60 inches wide by 100 feet long on many types of media, including heavyweight paper, trade show lexan and vinyl, polyblend fabric, white and clear film, adhesive vinyl, tyvek or polybanner. For outdoor applications, we can print up to 8.5 feet wide by 164 feet in length usually on scrim vinyl, but also on mesh, adhesive vinyl, broadway cloth, and even flag. We also produce and install 3M 3-year high resolution vehicle graphics to accompany our vehicle graphics services (ask us about fleet graphics).

3. What's your print resolution?
First, it needs to be said that DPI (dots per inch) is misleading as a method for assessing the actual perceptual viewing of an image, as a 600 dpi dot on one machine may actually be smaller than a 1200 dpi dot on another brand of machine. In such a case, though the 1200 dpi machine may be able to put down more dots per inch, there is no additional clarity provided, since the 600 dpi can accomplish the same clarity with smaller dots across the same area. As such, since there are no standards in large format printing to deal with this issue, we now predominantly use the terms “long distance,” “standard,” and “high” to describe resolution, though we still provide DPI when requested. At this time “long distance” is a superwide option at 150 dpi, “standard” is 300 dpi available on superwide and large format, and “high” is 600 dpi available on large format (less than 60" inches wide) only.

If the intended viewing distance is more than 10 feet, long distance resolution is sufficient if a superwide banner, and standard resolution is sufficient if the banner is 60 inches wide or less. Most of our superwide, however, is printed at standard resolution to maximize color saturation.

If the viewing distance is between 4 and 10 feet, standard resolution is sufficient. If the viewing distance is less than 4 feet, high resolution is ideal, particularly for advertising agency quality output. However, standard resolution is usually fine for overall multi-distance viewing.

4. What are your hours?
9 AM to 5 PM Monday through Friday. Saturday by appointment.

5. Can I send files by Internet?
Yes, we have a high-speed internet connection and receive files via email or secure FTP. Email is not recommended for files over 10 MB.

6. Do you offer pickup and delivery?
We currently offer free pickup and delivery in Central Contra Costa, though if you need it immediately we suggest you arrange for a courier as we deliver in coordination with our production schedule. At this time, we also deliver finished jobs to the Tri-Valley and Southern Solano areas at no cost. We deliver proofs by FedEx at no additional charge to you, but if you need to see a proof the same day, you will need to come visit us (we recommend before 2 p.m. to avoid traffic).

7. At what resolution should a photo be saved for output?
For long distance resolution output, save images at a minimum of 75 dpi at 100% at final size. For standard resolution output, please save images at a minimum of 150 dpi at 100% at final size. For high resolution output, please save images at a minimum of 250 dpi at 100% at final size. If you do not know what this means, please call us at 888-233-7913.

8. At what size document should I design to enlarge for a poster?
If your final size is less than 48 inches, design at 100%. If your final size is over 48 inches, design at between 25 and 50%. We make this recommendation since many design programs can not create pages over 48 inches.

9. When should I mount or laminate my print?
Lamination should be done any time you need as much image permanence as you can get and when you need to protect the print from finger prints. We laminate with high-quality vinyl and polycarbonate UV laminates to help retain image quality and to prevent smudging. Most people use matte laminate because it reduces glare on their image, but we also offer gloss and lustre finishes.

Mounting should be done anytime your image needs to be flat and you do not have a poster holder. We mount to a lot of substrates including foamcore, gatorboard, sintra, plywood, aluminum, acrylic, and so on. If your images are intended for a short period (e.g. a couple of months), foamcore or coreplast are fine, but gatorboard and like materials should be used for longer-term projects to avoid warping due to changes in humidity and the like. Ask us for suggestions.

10. When will my job be done?
Typically, jobs take between 3 and 5 days. In general, if it’s just one poster (without proof) then 2 to 3 days is standard. Faster than that and/or many more than that, there may be a rush fee of 50 to 100% as is standard in the printing industry. Allow for more time if you have 20 or more posters, if it's a superwide job, or if you are purchasing a banner system or exhibit.

11. What is a “Ready to Print” file?
Please see #1 - If you follow those guidelines, your files should be “ready-to-print.” Please note that files which require preparation time in excess of 15 minutes may be subject to rejection or additional charges to bring the file to a “ready-to-print” state – your project is also likely to be delayed if it is not received “ready-to-print.”

REMEMBER: The best question you can ask is the one that is asked before sending us your files.