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Tricks for Fixing Bad Images

(September 2003) posted on Thu Sep 25, 2003

Coudray describes techniques you can use to overcome resolution, color, image-quality, and file-format issues.


By Mark A. Coudray

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Working in the art department exposes us to all kinds of nasty, poorly prepared art. Sometimes it's the client's fault. Many times it's simply ignorance that causes all this grief. I can't tell you how many times we've had to magically resurrect an essentially dead-on-arrival art file. Some of the art that comes in is so bad it would be funny if it were not for the fact that we are under deadline to produce the job--and the salesman has committed the company to delivery, regardless of how bad the art is. So this month I would like to go over some of the really cool tricks I've learned to use over the years to salvage bad situations.

 

To begin, you will do yourself a huge favor by publishing your art guidelines. These include information about the programs you support and the parameters under which you want the file to be produced. I'm not guaranteeing that this will do much good, but at least it's a start. Having guidelines in hand is at least a deterrent to bad art. On the outside chance that some creative director will actually look at the guidelines means that you have minimized your exposure to problems. If you do receive bad art files from someone who has read your guidelines, you at least have a fighting chance to successfully fix the problem. That said, let's take a look at some of the major problem areas common in customer-submitted art and ways you can minimize or repair the damage.

 

Wrong resolution

 

This happens a lot. Either the file is terribly low in resolution, or it is so high you could make a billboard from the file. In the case of low resolution (low res), you are in trouble. These are often art files captured or downloaded from the Web. They may look fine at 100%, but when 100% is 1 x 2 in. and you need 10 x 20 in., you're stuck.

 


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