So, you have an idea for large format print? Excellent! Sign Hippo is here to help you turn your idea into a reality. The first step in this process is the creation of the artwork that we will be printing. Here is a quick reference guide to help you get started! 


PRINT READY FILES: A print ready file is an image file that can be downloaded and sent directly to our printers. This means that the file is the proper size, color profile, the resolution is high enough for printing in a large format, and all fonts are accounted for or converted to outlines. Fonts can be sent in their own folder along with the finished artwork.


RASTER IMAGE: The elements contained in image files such as .JPG, .TIFF, and .PSD have a set number of pixels or DPI (dots per inch). These types of files can be reduced in size without losing resolution. They cannot be increased in size without losing resolution and becoming blurry. To ensure that your sign or banner is the highest quality when printed, raster based images must be received at full size and be no less than 150 DPI.


For example: If you require a sign or banner that is 24 x 36 inches, then your .JPG, .TIFF, or .PSD must be 24 x 36 inches.


VECTOR IMAGES: The elements contained in image files such as .PNG, .AI, and .SVG do not have a set number of pixels. These types of files can be resized without losing resolution. Because of this, vector images are the industry standard for large format prints.


Please note: if a raster image is placed in a .PNG, .AI, or .SVG file it cannot be resized without losing resolution. In order to ensure that your sign or banner is printed at the highest quality, all the elements in your file must be vector or high-resolution raster. 


PDF: Most design software is capable of saving artwork as a .PDF. This is a versatile file type and will work with most printing software. We recommend sending artwork to us as a .PDF to ensure that it prints properly.


Please note: When outputting artwork as a .PDF, the images contained within the file must be high resolution if it is raster based. Saving a low resolution file as a .PDF will not resolve any of the issues associated with printing the file.


BLEED/TRIM: If you require the printed image on your sign or banner to reach all the way to the edge of the material, you must include a bleed or trim area in the original artwork. This area should be no less than .5 inches (1/2 inches) on all sides. This means that if your sign will be 24 x 36 inches when complete, the artwork will need to be 25 x 37 inches.


PRINT SAFE AREA: When creating artwork for your sign or banner, it is advisable to keep any critical elements at least .5 inches (1/2 inch) from the edge of the material. This print safe area will ensure that none of the important elements in your artwork are lost during the printing or trimming process.


Please note: this margin is in addition to the Bleed/Trim area.


RGB vs. CMYK: RGB or ‘Red’, ‘Green’, and ‘Blue’ are color values used in digital media. For example, your computer monitor is in RGB. CMYK or ‘Cyan’, ‘Magenta’, ‘Yellow’, and ‘Black’ are values used in printing on physical media. These two types of color processes do not always get along. Files created using RGB must be converted to CMYK for most printing processes. This will change the look of the colors contained in your artwork. To avoid this issue we recommend that all artwork be created as CMYK


COLOR MATCHING: Color matching is the process used to assure that a color on one medium remains the same when converted to another medium, such as a digital file intended for print.


For example: including the Pantone numbers for your artwork or your colors exact CMYK values is necessary if you want an exact color match.


CROP MARKS/GUIDE LINES: Before sending a file for printing, a designer should make sure that any crop marks and/or guide lines are either set on their own layer or removed entirely. This will allow us to turn them off if they are not needed or adjust them as necessary.


DESIGN/SET-UP: When we review your files in preparation for printing we will be looking for File Resolution, Bleed/Trim, Print Safe Area, and Color Matching. Should we discover a potential issue with any of these factors we will contact you and propose a solution. Should you require our design services in order to resolve any potential issues, we offer competitive rates billable per-job or per-hour. Our design staff is here to help make your project the best that it can be!