DIY Graphic Design Work: 5 Things to Know

We’ve seen a huge increase in the number of customers that are doing their own graphic design work and then bringing it to Kona Impact for output. This can be a good win-win situation for the businesses and Kona Impact. It can also result in higher total costs for the client if it is not done properly.
graphic design
I won’t discuss design quality, as that is often in the eye of the beholder. I will, however, show the things, at a minimum, that the designer must have a solid grasp of.

  1. Copyright. We absolutely cannot and will not reproduce graphics for which you or we do not have a license. No, we won’t print your Hello Kitty graphic that you “found online”. Every image online is owned by someone, unless it has a specific Creative Commons license attached to it. We do not willingly break copyright law.
  2. 72 dpi vs 300 dpi. Almost all web graphics and photos are at 72 dots per inch (dpi), and the requirement for good output is 300 dots per inch. Enlarge a 72 dpi graphic 100% and it becomes 36 dots per inch! If you download anything from the internet to use for output, it is more than likely too low of quality for enlarging, and likely to be very low quality at its original size.
  3. CMYK vs. RGB. CMYK is cyan, magenta, yellow and black/registration and RGB is red, green and blue. These are what we call color spaces: CMTK is for professionally printed output or what we call 4 color printing. RGB is a color space for monitors and displays; that is, web graphic. If a file is set up for RGB, it will not look as it should when printed on paper or a sign. It is very important that files that are going to be printed be set up and saved in CMYK.
  4. Bleed, cut lines and safety lines. The cut size a business card 3.5” x 2”, while the dimensions we need is 3.625 x 2.125. All essential text should be ⅛ inside of the cut size. Ask for a template and we’ll gladly provide you one. Give us a file that doesn’t have the correct settings for the bleed, cut and safety zones and you’ll see added costs for your project.
  5. PNG, JPEG or PDF? We never want png files for printing, but jpegs or pdf are fine—if the quality is high. Again, a jpeg you download from the internet is most likely 72 dpi, less than 25% the quality level you need for good output. A 300 dpi jpeg is fine. Ideally, we receive a pdf file that is created after the fonts are outlined and transparencies are flattened. Don’t have a clue what this means? Spend some time to figure it out, as it will greatly decrease problems with the output.

The above are just the basics and are necessary for any files set up for output. It’s all learnable.
At Kona Impact we are fond of saying: “Everything has a cost. Who is going to pay?” If we receive a file that needs to be re-done, the cost has to shift back to the client.


Kona Impact LLC – 808-329-6077