How to prepare graphics for banners and trade show displays

I-am-TLU-bannerWhen creating graphics for large format items like banners and trade show displays, be sure to give your print vendor exactly what they need.

Ask your print vendor for detailed artwork specifications, which will let you know exactly how to setup your artwork in terms of scale, resolution, whether or not they need bleed (or extra image beyond the trim edge), preferred file format, etc. Most print vendors will be able to provide you with their exact specs.

Specs can vary from one vendor to the next, so it is always good to ask. But if you cannot get exact artwork specs, there are some general rules of thumb you can lean on if you must. Assume that photos should be a target resolution of 100 to 150 dpi at final size. Assume that you will need .25” bleed on each side. More than likely the vendor will want the artwork in CMYK color mode and will need crop marks included.

If you are using a photo on your banner or trade show display, often even high quality, high resolution images are not high enough resolution to yield good print output at such a large size. The good news is that high quality images can often be re-interpolated to a larger size either by using specialized software (like onOne’s Perfect Resize or Alien Skin’s Blow Up), or by incrementally enlarging the photo in Photoshop.

If you have to re-interpolate your photo, be sure to pay close attention to noise and sharpness. View your image at 50% of actual size to check the noise and sharpness.

The image below would have been soft without additional sharpening.



Some images may need additional noise reduction, like the example below. This noise might be overlooked if you only view your image at a reduced size to fit your computer monitor. The image below is shown at 50% of its final size, which is large enough to see the noise that results from re-interpolation. You need to be aware of this so that you can reduce the noise if needed – before it ends up on your printed banner.


Keeping these things in mind when creating graphics for large format items will help you provide your print vendor with exactly what they need. In the end, your print vendor will appreciate receiving the artwork ready-to-print. It will allow them to do their job faster, without additional troubleshooting, and should provide you with the best possible output quality.

How to choose a graphic design firm

How to Choose a Design Firm

Whether it’s from television, the internet, or printed materials, consumers are exposed to hundreds of companies every day. If you want to stand out, simply having a logo isn’t enough. Consumers are attracted to eye-catching, message-sending, innovative brands. And that’s where good graphic design can help transform your company’s product, message, and mantra into one cohesive visual design that really makes an impression.

Many clients have difficulty choosing a graphic designer, mostly because they aren’t quite sure what to look for. Here are some points you should consider when looking for and choosing a graphic design firm:

A great portfolio.

Obviously you want to choose a firm that will help you look your best, so start by looking at a firm’s portfolio. Pay particular attention to any descriptions that accompany their projects. A project may look good, but each has to fit specific project requirements to be an effective communication tool. You will want to choose a firm whose style of design matches the style you need to best represent your brand and reach your target audience.

Look for experience that relates to your project.

You don’t necessarily need to find a designer who has experience in your exact industry, but make sure the design company has experience in the medium that you plan to use – whether that is printed brochures, websites, presentations, trade show booth graphics, or multimedia. Or whether they have solved specific design challenges similar to yours. You want to find a design company that has the insight needed to understand your purpose and your content, and has the ability to effectively communicate both to your audience.

Meet them.

These days it is very common to do everything via text and email. Yet, if you can meet with potential designers, you can get a feeling for whether they really understand what you’re looking for. If you can’t meet in person, try for a phone or video-based meeting. If they can hear you explain what you’re looking for and you hear them explain the way they see it working out, you might come to a meeting of the minds much quicker.

Think Long-Term.

Good design requires both a good designer and a good client. Choosing a design company that takes the time to understand what you want and how you want to convey it is the basis for the best designer-client relationships. These long-term engagements help develop a clear understanding of branding and execution. If you and your designer are comfortable together, you will receive better results.

By keeping these things in mind during your search, you will be much more likely to find a graphic design firm that meets your visual communication needs.

Custom greeting card design for TLU

Texas Lutheran University asked us to design a Christmas card for them. We gave them 5 options and they decided to use all five! We were thrilled. Thanks TLU for the fun project!


Custom Cards are a great way to reach out to clients and customers as well as to your employees. Take a look at some of the other Cards and Promos we have done for clients in the past.