7 Replies Latest reply on Jul 22, 2011 3:45 AM by Migintosh

    Help with poster printing


      I have designed a 20 x 30 poster in indesign.  It is essentially a family tree of pictures and name labels.  When I view the image after printing as a PDF it looks wonderful - crips lines, nice photos.  When I print it at Costco it looks awful.  Pixelated photos, edges, and even text.


      In order to submit the order I have to export the file as a JPEG.  Costo told me to export it at 300 dpi.  So I did.  When I view the poster on my computer as a JPEG and I zoom in to "100%" it looks much larger than it should - but it looks great.


      I understand there is likely different quality of photos involved in this project and I am okay and can live with that, I suppose...but here is what I don't understand:


      1.  Why does it look SO much better on my computer


      2.  I can understand the photo problems - but how come the text looks so poor too?


      Am I exporting it too large?  The JPG file says it is 9000 x 6000 pixels which should be right for 300 dpi ending up being 20 x 30.


      How can I make this look better???  Thanks!

        • 1. Re: Help with poster printing

          hi westonclark,

          I wonder why a professional (?) printer or printservice asks for a jpg where pdf should be the format of choice.

          To your questions: 1. is it the jpg that looks better on your computer or is it the InDesign file?, 2. Text is usually not a halftone image but line art. The recommendend resolution for reproduction of line art is much higher than 300 dpi. Sharp edges become blurry when reproduced with 300 dpi halftone. That's the reason why printer and plotter have higher resolutions than 300 dpi.


          It's obvious that you don't want to enlage you file dramatically to let's say 36000x24000 px. So why not pdf? Maybe you better look for an different service to print his from a pdf file.




          • 2. Re: Help with poster printing
            Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

            First off, there are undoubtedly better places to have your print done than at Costco. Is there a Staples or Kinkos near you? Either of them should be able to print from a PDF at a fairly low price. For the best quality, look for a printer who specialized in large format output or perhaps a photo store, but expect to pay more.


            Second, there are MANY qualities available in jpeg format and ID has never been know for producing stellar jpeg files. If you insist on using Costco and giving them a jpeg (and I emphatically advise against making jpegs of anything that has type in it), you'll get better results by exporting a high quality PDF from ID, then open and rasterize that in Photoshop and save as jpeg there. Expect fuzzy type, though, especially at 300 ppi.

            • 3. Re: Help with poster printing
              John Hawkinson Level 5

              JPEG is mathematically incapable of reproducing sharp edges. Text and JPEGs should never mix.


              It's very hard to judge from your description, but I suspect the Costco printing process is reducing the resolution on the way to the printer. Very hard to tell without seeing both the files and the output product.


              So, as everyone else has said, please use another vendor.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Help with poster printing
                Luke Jennings Level 4

                I encourage you to seek out a high quality printer in your area. Some of them are happy to accept small jobs and can give you great advice. Many of their biggest customers started that way. if the price seems too high, try to bargain a little.

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Help with poster printing
                  Bo LeBeau Level 4

                  When you uploaded your file to Costcophotocenter.com did you select the fast or the full resolution upload speed?


                  From their website:


                  What is the difference between the fast and full resolution upload speeds when using the quick uploader?

                  When you choose the fast speed, we upload your images up to 5x faster by compressing them slightly prior to uploading them. There is no loss in the visible quality of your photos. The compression is just small enough to reduce the transmission speed while maintaining the visual integrity of your photos in order to produce high quality prints. Please choose the fast upload speed for print sizes up to 8x10.


                  Because there is a slight compression that would be noticeable only at large print sizes, it is best to choose the full resolution speed if you wish to produce enlargements beyond 8x10 or if you wish to use a photo on a large gift. While this will transfer your photos more slowly, it will ensure an appropriate resolution for large prints.



                  What file types work best with the Online Photo Center?

                  We have found that the .jpg file type works best, but you can upload .bmp and .tiff files as well.




                  I'm surprised they don't take PDF but perhaps a TIF file at 300 ppi might be better.


                  How did you save the .jpg in Photoshop? You can adjust the quality of the jpg from 12 (High Quality) all the way down to 1 (Low Quality) this changes the level of compression used.


                  A quick test show a 20x30  inch poster at 300 ppi  using the highest quality12 is 9.5 MB. using the lowest quality 1 the file size is only 1 MB.

                  Note that differing levels of compression can change the image quality, however, the actual dimensions 6000 x 9000 pixels will remain the same!


                  So it's possible that:

                  The quality of your .jpg was set at a Low quality setting when saving from Photoshop.

                  Perhaps you selected the fast upload speed and the file got compressed on its way to Costco.

                  Or maybe your local Costco just messed up the printing. (talk to them if you think they messed up. They will reprint it for you)


                  Costo has their printer profiles available for download. See the bottom center of the home page of www.costocophotocenter.com. Click on this, select your state and scroll through the list of Costco locations and you can see the exact printers they use at your location and you can download the correct printer profiles.


                  Try finding printer profiles at Staples or FedEx Kinkos!

                  • 6. Re: Help with poster printing
                    westonclark Level 1

                    Thank you everyone for your comments!  I wasn't aware there was such a difference in locations but now I am understanding why.  I will find a place that accepts PDF's and print there - it is worth the extra cost.  Thank you very much for taking the time to help a novice, like myself!

                    • 7. Re: Help with poster printing
                      Migintosh Level 4

                      westonclark wrote:


                      When I view the image after printing as a PDF…

                      Does that mean that you export from InDesign as a PDF and then print the PDF, or are you using the old method of printing to a file to create a PDF?