How Restaurant Menus Make You Spend More

“Menus are supposed to be the classic example of free choice, but menu designers have found that there’re many ways of getting you to order what the restaurant wants you to order”

How restaurant menus make you spend more

Image Resolution In Print Design

It is an all too common occurrence for us to reject beautiful graphic-design jobs due to unsuitable image resolutions, causing delays. Sometimes designers fail to realize that when it comes to the images they print, size usually doesn’t matter, resolution is king. Here’s a handy guide on how to create a print ready design by keeping your eye on the resolution.

What is image resolution?

To begin let’s discuss what resolution actually is. Image resolution refers to the amount of pixels that make up and image. The density of these pixels within the image is measured in PPI (Pixels Per Inch). In general, the higher the resolution the more detailed the image will have.

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When we design for web, e.g., websites, email, and blogs, an image resolution of 72ppi will usually suffice. That is because the pixel density of a monitor is relatively low compared to ink. When we print something we no longer refer to resolution as Pixels Per Inch, instead we refer to it as Dots Per Inch, that’s the density of Cyan Magenta Yellow and Black dots placed on the paper. In general a resolution of 300ppi is required for any image that is being printed. Although different, the terms DPI and PPI are used interchangeably.

To demonstrate this we’ll create (2) 10×10 inch documents in Photoshop. The first (left) has a resolution of 300ppi, the second (right) has a resolution of 72ppi. You’ll notice the 300ppi document is much bigger. This is because of the pixel density.

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The image below demonstrates what happens when an image that is 72ppi (right) is transferred into a document that is 300ppi (left). A 10×10 document at 72ppi can only hold 720 pixels across the width of the entire document. A 10×10 document at 300ppi can hold 3000px.

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Resampling VS Resizing

In order for a 72ppi image to fit in your 300ppi document, we would be required to enlarge the image. When we enlarge the image, we are adding pixels, and the program has to guess what color pixels to fill in. This is what leads to the fuzzy image you see in low-resolution files. We call this Resampling.

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You can also change the resolution directly of your image from 72ppi to 300ppi. The photo-editing program will then shrink down the size of your document. This is called resizing.

The key in print design is to start with an image large enough to fill the space required at 300ppi. Exceptions do apply when designing for some large format collateral like banners, which at times require much lower resolutions than standard prints. Contact us prior to beginning your design or visit or FAQ section for more information on how to setup your files.

The Ultimate Sophistication

The Ultimate Sophistication

We all know simple when we see it, touch it, or use it.  It gets to the core of what things truly are with little effort; a breath of fresh air in a sea of complexity.  The complexities we encounter everyday force us to limit our visual consumption, to dismiss, discard and ignore things we don’t instantly connect with.

Details vs. The Message

Simplicity is no just about having less, but doing more with less. As we apply the principles of simplicity, usability, functionality, and minimalism to print design, we’ve quickly learned that simplicity is difficult to achieve.

Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not just minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep.… You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.

—Jony Ive

We find ourselves having this conversation on a daily basis with our clients, convincing others that we are too often caught up in the details and forgetting the message the marketing materials are intended communicate.  Our experience has shown that effective design is not about how many details you can cram in an ad piece, it is about the impression and message you leave those who see it.

Print Blacks Right The First Time: Total Area Coverage

In our previous blog Print Blacks Right The First Time we discussed the basics of using a combination of CMYK to create rich black colors when printing.  Today we want to take things a bit further and talk about Total Area Coverage

Total Area Coverage

When there are several colors being printed on top of each other, as in when printing a rich black (c60 m40 y40 k100), there is a limit to the amount of ink that can be put on paper.  When designers ignore these limitations serious issues are caused on the press; For example, the last ink that’s laid down on the paper won’t attach properly to the previous layer leading to muddy colors in neutral areas and ink that won’t dry properly, then rub off on the sheet that’s placed on top.  This limitation is called Total Area Coverage (TAC) or Total Ink Coverage (TIC).

Total Area Coverage is specified as a percentage.  You get this percentage by adding up the percentage values used in each color, so using (c100 m100 y100 k100) would give you a Total Area Coverage of 400%.  The maximum that a printer will except will depend on several factors:

The printing process: Digital, laser, sheet offset and web offset each have their own limitations.

Paper Stock: Different papers will have their own limitations, this includes coated and uncoated.

Colors: The amount of colors being printed simultaneously will also affect intermediate drying times which will require limitations on TAC.

It’s always best to consult with your printer and discuss their TAC limitations prior to submitting work for print.

Here are the industry standards for Total Area Coverage

Commercial offset Printing: 320 – 340%

Heatset web offset (Magazines): 300 – 320%

Non-Heatset web offset (News papers): 240 – 260%

Inkjet Devices: 300 – 350%

Checking your TAC

To check the total area coverage of your design there are several options within Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign.  Today i’m only going to discuss how to preview TAC on any file using Adobe Acrobat.

Start by exporting your files as a PDF.

Open the PDF using Adobe Acrobat and use the Output Preview option to preview the TAC based on your selected value.

In the example above we have taken the image on the left and used the Output Previewer on the right to highlight all the areas with a TAC higher than 300%.  As you can see Adobe Acrobat highlights in green all the areas with a total area coverage of  more than 300%.  If we refer to our industry standard we can see that this image would work fine if being printed on a magazine but could cause a potential over-inking problem if printed on newspaper.

In this case if we where planing on printing on newspaper we would adjust and reduce the black color percentages to meet the printing standards.  If we where planing using commercial offset printing we would adjust and increase the the black color values since we have more ink available to us to create a nicer rich black color.