Providing the right artwork to vendors

At some point, many of you will have to order t-shirts, stickers, brochures, or posters from a local or online vendor, and you will need to submit artwork for the project. The first step is to get a quote specifying the details, price, and scope of the project to prevent a misunderstanding should the finished product be incorrect.

Once you have agreed on the quote, the next step is to provide artwork to the vendor. The best way to ensure a successful project is to know what file format your vendor needs for the artwork.

There are two basic types of digital art files: bitmapped and vector art.

1. A bitmapped file (for example, JPEG, PNG, or GIF) is composed of a matrix of dots. Each dot can be assigned a color and combined with other dots to create shapes. When you zoom in on a bitmapped image, you will see the individual dots, which make it look blocky. The quality of a bitmapped file is indicated by its resolution (dots per square inch or dpi.) As a general rule, 72 dpi is suitable for the Web, while 300 dpi and above is required for print. It is important to consult with the vendor if these files are being used in a project.

2. Vector art is any digital artwork in which the shapes are represented by mathematical equations within a computer. This allows the art to be scaled to any size without increasing the file size or losing picture quality. The most popular software programs used to create vector images are Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw. Files created using these programs are popular with screen printers and sign companies.

The key to working with any vendor is communicating and asking the right questions.

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