There are many methods of decorating promotional power banks and other products with your logo. These include screen printing and laser engraving. Today, I’ll write about the first step we take irrespective of the decorating process.
Vector VS. Raster
Regardless of the chosen method, we start by reviewing the submitted art. The first step for most basic artwork is to make sure that it is in vector format. “What is that?” you ask. Good question. Let’s start with the raster format.
A raster image is basically a finite bunch of dots (pixels) that join together to make a picture. Common raster image files will end in .png, .jpeg, or .tif. Since the picture is built using dots, if you were to take the image and enlarge it, it will look pixelated or grainy. In some instances, when the image starts off with a high enough resolution (at least 300 dots per inch (dpi) at size), we will be able to use the file.
Conversely, a vector image is created using a formula, rather than dots. As such, you are able to increase or decrease the size of the image as needed, without compromising the quality of the picture. The most common vector files will end with a .ai, .pdf, or .eps. It is this vector format that we generally require for printing. Your graphic artist should also take care to convert any fonts to curves.
A Note on Extensions
Be careful – just because the file extension say .ai or .eps does not mean that it is in vector format. It could be that someone had a raster image and saved it with a .eps extension. A former colleague used to explain that if you would put a cat in a box and label the outside of the box “dog,” it does not change the cat into a dog. If you have a bitmapped image and label it .ai on the outside, it does not change the graphic into a vector format.
Adjusting A Logo for Imprint Area
It is common that logos are designed to look cool and to wow people and many designs are truly attention grabbing. Usually, these designs are pretty easy to reproduce in print on paper and posters. Taking the same logo and applying to a promotional power bank is not always so easy. For instance, I was just sent a logo which was 1” high and the text in the design was probably less than .25” and the client wanted to imprint the same design on an item with an imprint height of .25”. The text is simply not legible at that small size. It would even be difficult to make out some of the basic elements of the design at the .25” height.
Gradients & Half Tones
Another challenge when imprinting on logoed gifts is gradients. Many times you see a design that fades from light blue to dark blue. That changing of the color is called a gradient. Half-tones are similar to gradients. A gray could be a gray ink or it could be composed of printing every other spot (50%) of black. If you imagine a piece of graph paper which has finer lines every 1/16” and you fill in a full square inch in black. You will have a black box. Now take that same square inch and fill in every other box of the grid – it will no longer look black but grey. This is called a half-tone. Many imprint methods cannot print half-tones or gradients. The best solution is to have a version of your logo which is line art – that is simply solid lines.
Multi Color Imprints
One final area to mention is multi color and full color imprints. The first thing you want to know is that most branded merchandise, including branded power banks, is priced to include a 1 color imprint. If your design is multi color or full color and can be run in multi-color, there will usually be a run charge for the extra imprint colors. There are also many imprinting techniques which simply cannot be done in multiple colors. On the other hand, imprint technology has come a long way and there are many more options for duplicating full color logos on promotional merchandise.
When you place an order with a promotional products specialist, the first thing they should be doing is confirming that the graphic is usable and that it can be printed on the selected item. Once we have established that the provided art is usable, we move on to one of the methods we will discuss next time.