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Big Design Considerations

Tools and Tricks for Large Format

Part 2 of 4

By Kim Crowley

In the first part of this designing for large format series, we shared a product roundup on software that creative professionals utilize to produce large format print products. Here, we investigate important considerations for designing large format print.

Large format applications require additional steps and considerations. "Understanding the difference between designing for small format and large format is essential," says Michael Chramtchenko, director of marketing, CADlink Technology Corporation. Tiling is one example where key design elements should be positioned so that they do not fall into tile lines, he notes.

Scaling Up
With large format design, scaling and tiling are important. "Adobe Illustrator, our vector-based graphics program, is used frequently for large format design. As the artwork is vector-based, it can be scaled to any size and resolution," states David Macy, senior product manager, Adobe Illustrator. The programís maximum canvas size is 200x200 inches. If the final output is larger than that, users need to scale. Designers should also consider tiling and overlap between tiles if the application is wider than the roll size of the printer.

QuarkXPress 8 users who design for large format should remember that the maximum page size in QuarkXPress is 48x48 inches, which scales up to 400 percent. The maximum output size is 16x16 feet.

"Users designing for large format should also make sure that their raster data is high quality so that it will be less likely to degrade when scaled," adds Kaoru Uno, Senior Product Manager, QuarkXPress.

"There is no image enlargement technique that provides the best result 100 percent of the time," states explains Hugo Eijkelhof, public relations manager, BenVista. BenVista PhotoZoom Pro 3 offers the choice of using S-Spline Max, the original S-Spline algorithm from PhotoZoom Pro 1, and S-Spline XL from PhotoZoom Pro 2.

Resolution Requirements
Good planning is essential for designing large format output, notes Vasavaís 18 person design and branding team, a company based in Barcelona, Spain. "The problem with large format is the extra time the computer takes to calculate your steps, so we try to avoid too much trial and error by having a clear idea of what is needed before moving forward. Sometimes, for risky images, we make a low-resolution version first," they explain.

Vasava uses Adobe Systems Incorporatedís Illustrator and Photoshop with no extra plug-ins, though they sometimes use Photoshopís .PSB Large Document Format file extension. "Adobe CS4 is the industry standard for graphics. You canít find anything better than these tools. Weíve been using Photoshop since version two, and Illustrator since version five," the team notes. "Itís stable and reliable enough that we donít have to worry too much about the tech-y stuff. This allows us to simply be creative and let it flow."

Nova Fisher, communications manager, Xara Group Ltd. notes the misconception that 300 dpi resolution is required for all large format prints. "Few, if any, large format prints are examined close up. In fact, images created at 75 dpi or lower look just as good at 300 dpi when printed on a large format printer and viewed from a distance of a few feet. And, most large format images are viewed from meters away, rather than inches away. Lower resolution files are much easier to handle and faster to print," says Fisher.

Audience Considerations
Designers need to consider how their work will be printed and on what media, as well as how it will be installed and where. "When designing for large format, many people struggle with visualizing the correct size and orientation of the final product. In PosterDesigner Pro, users can choose to automatically scale their work to fit the width or length of their roll or paper, or they can specify an exact size they want it to print. At all times in this process, users see a real-time preview of how a project will print on the specified roll or paper," says Ashley Hewson, sales director, Serif.

Large format graphics require special design software and skills. Graphic designers must be aware of resolution requirements, which in many cases arenít as high as one may think. Consideration also needs to be made when scaling an imageówhether done through design software or a plug-in. With the right design tools and know how, your designs can go big.

Click here to read Part 1 of this exclusive online series, Go Big Design.

Click on the link above to get more information on the vendors mentioned in this article.

Aug2009, Digital Output

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