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Richard Insinna

What are the best software programs to prepare artwork and graphics for printing?

Asked January 11, 2015, Edited January 21, 2015 by in Product Development

I have some pictures and graphics I want to use in a promotional brochure, and want to know what software to use to prepare a file for a printing company.

AJ Flamingo
AJ Flamingo  I would ask the printing company directly what type of files they accept. Not everyone runs the same software or the same version of that software. Are they PC- or Mac-based, I'd ask them first. Most printers want vectored files. That means they have the ability to enlarge or reduce it as necessary without losing quality. You can look up what a vector file is on Wikipedia for starters. You can also go down to references and see which publication, blog or whatever is cited, copy and paste the link and read more.
2 weeks ago

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Bill Murphy

Bill Murphy January 14, 2015

If you are laying out a project for print you need to use a combination of software. Adobe CC includes InDesign. InDesign on its own is a okay program. It works best with Photoshop and Illustrator. It is a layout program.

Illustrator is great for vector graphics and a specific kind of illustration. Logos and branding work great in Illustrator.

Photoshop is for photo retouching and getting creative with pixel based images. Photoshop is also a illustration tool.

Now when you have your elements that you need from Illustrator and Photoshop. You can bring all the elements together into InDesign. InDesign is where the magic of layout happens. How text, images and graphic elements all work together. The three main programs work so well together. Even Illustrator and Photoshop have some back and forth that can be amazingly helpful.

InDesign truly is for laying out the design. An Example would be a magazine layout. You could do each page in Illustrator but you would have some workarounds. You would loose some of the functionality that makes InDesign so good. You could do some illustration work in InDesign but really you are using dumbed down versions of the great tools found in Illustrator. Together the programs work as a excellent suite. In the past Adobe sold the Creative Suite. Now they have CC.

CC works on Windows or Mac platforms, you should be good with any of the more recent versions of Windows. I am on a Mac OS and love it. Adobe’s website should have a list if you really want the specifics. You can get CC versions for Photoshop but the full CC is the one that includes InDesign. You will have loads of software with this package. First step is to learn the basic tools, from me or youtube or or a credited collage. Do not get overwhelmed it is easy to do. I have been using Adobe products for over 20 years and I still find cool new techniques that I love. They keep innovating with the products as well, this brings new cool things to help streamline workflows. Once you have the basics you can add a little bit here and a little bit there to grow your knowledge. I find podcast are a good way to keep up to date. The Internet really helps. Just little tips and tricks keep us getting better all the time. Other points about using CMYK and file types are good. Let know what you decide.

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Junaid Iqbal

Junaid Iqbal January 12, 2015

I prefer indesign, then Illustrator and then photoshop. Indesign is great tool for digital publishing, it provide you variety of formats for print with accurate bleed setting. Illustrator can provide a good quality vector based output. though photoshop work in multiple dimensions you can still have CMYK layout created in it too. If you don't have any of these GIMP is a great free alternative.

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Soothoane Soothoane

Soothoane Soothoane January 15, 2015

Suitable software are Adobe Indesign and Illustrator...Illustrator is more suited for branding on promotional items while Indesign is very good for designing booklets and brochures, that is, when preparing documents with more content. Both of these software produce a high quality vector based artwork which can be saved in PDF format when preparing for print.

Photoshop on the other hand is very good when working with images and is also capable of producing very crisp effects on text, 3D or any other object whether imported from Illustrator or drawn in photoshop. It can be used for designing single page artworks like posters, business cards, leaflets etc...(Artwork for not very heavy duty print).

This needs a well trained person to use so my advice is that you hire a good graphic designer to help you with this.

I hope this will help.
Many thanks

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Heather Hunt-Casper

Heather Hunt-Casper January 14, 2015

My recommendation is to contract a designer or firm to take your pictures and graphics to design and write appropriate messaging and call to action. Purchasing professional design software would be expensive, require design skills and involve a large learning curve. If you truly feel you can do it yourself, then use a vistaprint or similar where you just drop your photo in a generic template and print. You don't need software for that.

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Bill Murphy
Bill Murphy  I have had a very bad experience with vistaprint. I totally advise against them. Now you could try other online services.
January 14, 2015
Heather Hunt-Casper
Heather Hunt-Casper  Over the years my experiences have been positive with them. We have used them to upload custom work and do small print jobs. The quality has been fine and as expected. I don't represent them or use them often, but I think for the price, and if someone needs a template to work with, they would be viable.
January 20, 2015


Rus Nikita

Rus Nikita January 19, 2015

If you dont want to spend a lot of time designing and editing, and want to just drag and drop your idea, use its like InDesign + Photoshop on Steroids :-)

Plus it Autosaves everything

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Gee Ranasinha

Gee Ranasinha January 12, 2015, Edited January 12, 2015

Ideally graphics should be in a vector format (.ai, .eps, etc.) and any images should be 300dpi CMYK. The file itself should be converted according to the appropriate print output characteristics (offset, digital) or using file exchange standards such as PDF/X, and color-space standards such as SWOP, GRACoL, or FOGRA.

If all that sounds like gobbledegook to you (and why shouldn't it... ) and your budget precludes giving the work to a professional, then in my opinion the best way forward is to speak with your printing company.

Any print services provider worth their salt will be happy to give you advice on how to create and present the file to them to ensure optimized print output. It's as much in their interests as yours to ensure a successful result.

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Jenny Caldwell

Jenny Caldwell January 16, 2015

If it's just a brochure I use indesign or illustrator. You will have to contact your printing company to find out their file requirements. Some prefer high quality/print ready pdfs and some prefer the working file with all links and fonts.

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Hector De Marchena

Hector De Marchena January 19, 2015

For Brochures, you best bet is Adobe InDesign.

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Nora Brathol

Nora Brathol January 15, 2015

I'm a big fan of Canva. Most elements are free, the templates are beautiful and integrate perfectly with social media.

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Jeff Klingberg

Jeff Klingberg January 12, 2015

I would say that if you are asking this question it would be best to contact a graphic designer to help you versus spending hundreds of dollars for software you may only use a few times and because of your skill level may not get the results you want — costing you more money in the long run.

Furthermore, you could ask your printer to take the raw images and put them into the appropriate format for their purposes. Most, if not all, printers offer graphic design services as well.

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Matthew Thorpe

Matthew Thorpe January 21, 2015

The best software to use for printing material is Adobe Indesign. It allows you to setup up your layout depending on the product. All you need to do is proper setup the file based on the size of your print make adjustments for the proper format of your layout and add your information you want in. Now all this may sound easy but if you do not know the program you will need to watch or look up some tutorials.

Also there are some great online printing companies available too that offer great deals with good quality.

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Sol Gonzalez

Sol Gonzalez 2 weeks ago

I'm a fun and developer in the open source community and there are nice software out there that can help you get started just right. I use Inkscape and Gimp (google them). Both are free software to download and if well use you can create masterpieces. Success to you.

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Patrick Healy

Patrick Healy January 14, 2015

Depends. For me, honestly, it's usually Acrobat. After we've done whatever we are going to do in PhotoShop or Illustrator or whatever, we rip it to a PDF and every printer we work with actually prefers that. No ambiguity. No messups.

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Ray Badger

Ray Badger January 12, 2015

For print work check the requirements of the printer you want to use. I use InDesign to create my printed material. I use a fairly large printer who has great prices and they will take a number of formats. Even as basic is MS Word.
The printer I use prefers to get the files in high rez pdf format and when it comes to a word file that is the only way they will take a word file.
As was mentioned before photos should be converted to 300 DPI and saved in a TIFF format not JPG. The color mode should be CMYK not RGB which is more for web. Most any graphics program can convert the color mode and save as a TIFF. If you are in the market for a printer I have been very happy with both the prices and service with Conquest Graphics. They have their pricing online. .

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Adriel Casellas

Adriel Casellas 1 week ago

One of my favorite tools for creating content for print is Lucidpress. It's a layout and design tool (comparable to Adobe InDesign) but is better in a few ways:

It's extremely affordable. You can sign up for a free account (with limited features) or a full-featured paid version for just a couple dollars a month.
It's super easy to learn and use but still very powerful.
It's web-based so there is nothing to download.

Lucidpress also has hundreds of templates to start from (many of which are optimized for viewing on the iPad and other mediums) which makes creating a great magazine or brochure a breeze.

When you're finished, you can download the document as a PDF or publish it online (with a custom URL) and then share the link with others.

Check it out here:

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Mithun Jain

Mithun Jain January 13, 2015

Photoshop and Illustrator

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Kimberly Bennetta

Kimberly Bennetta January 11, 2015

It depends what sort of results you are looking for. Generally when it comes to a printing company they will usually want it in a particular format eg jpeg, gif.
If you are wanting to just adjust the pictures slightly then you could use something like , some stuff can be done on your basic program like powerpoint, adobe is another. Your other option you could look at is outsourcing the design to somewhere like odesk. I have had a number of banners done and you can get it quite cheap

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