They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. But how does it look on a printed page?

It is very important to understand how graphics appear in order to know how a picture is going to behave in your printed book. This article will help you learn about what to expect. Just because a picture looks fantastic on your computer monitor, it doesn’t mean that it is going to look the same way on paper. An eBook is going to look pretty much the same as what you see on your computer’s monitor because a phone, eBook reader, and computer monitor all display graphics with light. This makes everything appear crisp,  bright, and colorful automatically. How this transfers to print is completely different.

Display Properties: Monitors display graphics in light. There is really no way to know if a picture on your monitor is going to look a certain way in print, because even different monitors will display graphics differently, depending on what type they are and how their settings are configured. 

Resolution: Computer graphics are generally low-resolution at 72 ppi (pixels per square inch), but they still can look good and detailed. This is only true for light-emitted devices though. Printed books are a whole different animal. 

Colors: The third difference is that they are generally shown in RGB (red, green and blue) colors, and a blend of all three colors creates white on your screen. Light is completely different, in that it seems brighter than it is in reality. When you create an eBook on the computer, it will show graphics exactly the same way in an epub, or whatever format you have as an eBook.

Graphics On Paper

Display Properties: Printed graphics are purely ink on white paper. Some ink batches may be slightly different, but vary  little, and are usually not enough to notice. 

Resolution: In order to print correctly, images must be at a high resolution of at least 300 ppi (similar but not exactly like “dpi” which is “dots per square inch’ for a home or office printer). Because printed graphics are produced with ink instead of light, they are always going to appear a bit darker on paper in comparison to what you see on your computer monitor. You can do a test and print a picture out on paper, and it will give you a fairly accurate “reading” on how your graphics will show up in your book, however Picky Press has ways to correct the color and make your work print-ready. 

Colors: Ink colors are in CMYK (“cyan” or blue, “magenta” or red, yellow, and “key” or true black), and a blend of the three primary colors will create black. It is important to make sure that black is printed using true black and not a combination, or it can create ink saturation problems. Saturation problems will affect the way the ink behaves on the paper, such as puddling, soaking in and bleeding, etc. We use software that counteracts these problems so that graphics can pass the rigorous inspections of our printer’s equipment.

Monitors Vs. Printed Color

Below is an example of pictures on the monitor, compared to the printed book that they appeared in: 

As you can see, pictures seen on a monitor always looks lighter and brighter than on paper. This is natural for any and all printed materials. Both of the above examples are using standard ink on standard paper.

Premium ink and premium paper will likely yield a superior picture due to their more expensive, highly opaque properties. However, standard ink on standard paper will still yield very good results for books that aren’t intended to be expensive photo-quality coffee table books.

Specifications for Print Books with Graphics

Whether a book is in hardcover or paperback, the cover or the pages, all require the same specifications. For color graphics, they must be 300 ppi for most graphics. But for extremely fine-detailed pen and ink drawings, they must be at 600 ppi. These specifications also apply to any promotional tools that you may order from us such as bookmarks, posters, postcards, or flyers.

Ideally, graphics should be in CMYK, but Picky Press has the means to change RGB graphics into CMYK. In this case, we cannot guarantee that they will look exactly the same in color, but they should be extremely close. It is possible that these conversions could look a bit more dull in comparison, especially if you have only seen them on your computer monitor.

If one has a reference book or general pictures, standard ink on standard 50 lb. paper should work fine for your purpose as above. If you have less detail than in close-up photographs, but have many pictures such as for children’s books, you may choose standard ink on premium 70 lb. paper, offering a good opacity that is not visible through the page in the slightest. If graphics are a bigger part of your book, you may need more quality for photographs, such as a finer-grade premium ink and premium 70 lb. paper that is thicker and has maximum opacity. 

Picky Press can help to make your book print-ready to pass our printer’s rigorous inspections. Check out our various packages to see what we can do for you.