Meat Free sausages deliciously cooked, served and ready to eat, photograph taken by Kathryn Polley Photography

How can you get the best image results for your label or packaging printing?

The product image featured on your packaging or label can make all the difference, particularly for food which may need to be cooked or prepared.

We've put together a few hints and tips below from the ProPrint Group studio team and photographer, Kathryn Polley. They've given us some guidance on how to make sure your packaging will stand out and showcase your product...

Meat Free sausages deliciously cooked, served and ready to eat, photograph taken by Kathryn Polley Photography

1st Stage - Photography

The product itself...

It goes without saying that your photographer needs the best looking, freshest, firmest, most blemish-free items to work with, but also, they will need more product than you think.  Fresh foods, especially soft fruit, don’t much like the studio environment and can very quickly start to dry out and look less than their best. Make sure you have back up product in the fridge ready to swap out if things get too warm and ‘wilty’.  (A spray bottle filled with a glycerin/water mix can do a fair bit of refreshing but it’s not a miracle cure for shrivelled fruit!)  Beware leaves.  Sometimes the fruit will be fine but the stalks and leaves may be bruised.  Slightly underripe fruit is better than things at their peak - gives you a bit of leeway and you can boost colour in post more easily than you can remove bruises, tears and shrivelling.
Fresh blueberries added to natural yoghurt, photograph taken by Kathryn Polley Photography

Brief for the Photographer...

Briefing the photographer is especially important for packaging because the image has to work with so many other elements. This includes pack size, brand or variant colours, window areas,  logos, copy, typefaces and so on.  Communicating your ideas is key and a mood board can be a great way to show what you’re looking for - top down/flatlay shots, or table settings or close ups etc.  While it is useful to see what other producers are doing with their packaging and photography, slavishly copying a successful competitor’s style is essentially giving them free advertising so don’t be afraid to explore new ideas and come up with something new and unique to you!

Ideally you want to be able to give the photographer an idea of where the photograph will end up and whether it needs to fill the frame or leave room around the edges.  The photographer can then create a paper template which is attached to the LCD screen on the back of the camera to block out areas where text will appear. This is a really easy way to see exactly where to set up the product in the frame so that it doesn’t interfere with the space allocated to text.  Failing that, they can ’shoot to crop’ and effectively compose the image in post editing later and allow room for other elements.  In that instance it is often helpful if they can also photograph the background they’re using in the same lighting and at the same distance in case they need to ‘add’ in background later.

2nd Stage - Prep Photography for Print

The ProPrint Group studio team are experts at adjusting clients files to ensure that the printed result is the highest possible quality. However, improved file set up leads to far more seamless and efficient label and packaging printing, with no surprises! Here are a few considerations for customers or their graphic design agencies to bear in mind when preparing artwork and images for print...

Image size

Ruler and pencil showing measurement
When setting up artwork, make sure that your image has already been re-sized. Do this BEFORE being dropping it into the artwork file. If the image is re-sized from within the artwork file, image memory will remain which is un-used. This adds to the overall artwork size but for no useful purpose. If images are over 100MB in size it is advisable to contact the ProPrint Group studio team to check the best way to set up the artwork file. Make sure to orient photography according to the pack area and overall design.

Colour

Rainbow colours
The colour mode used for print is CMYK - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. RGB (Red, Green, Blue) images are not suitable for printing. Therefore it is important that your image is set up in the CMYK colour mode. Colours can be converted using Adobe Illustrator, InDesign and Photoshop. If you have any concerns about the final colour result, it is good to use the help of a professional designer. They will be able to liaise with ProPrint Group to ensure consistent colour profiles are used.

Image format & resolution

Close up of pixelation which can be cause by low resolution
For best results, images for print should be provided at 300dpi (number of dots per printed inch). Any lower resolution than this and pixelation can occur. This will ruin the final printed label or packaging result, despite any adjustments made on press. Image format is also important. Images are best provided as either PSD or TIFF. JPEG can work, however, users may be unaware that repeatedly re-saving a JPEG file can reduce image quality. If in any doubt over image preparation, our studio team are available to advise.

Proofing

GMG proof being checked with eyeglass
There are different ways to proof your artwork before you go to print. These include: soft proof (on screen), hard proof (printed by a high quality proof machine) or a wet proof (printed using the press itself). Wet proof is the most accurate representation of the final printed result. Equally the cost is higher. Colour profiling is also a fundamental part of making sure a proof is as close to the printed result as possible. This applies for both a hard or soft proof. ProPrint can advise on customers best options for proofing or colour matching.