Large Scale Design – Billboards etc (Tutorial Links)
I will update this post as I find new links. If you are a visitor to this blog and know of any good tutorials, please feel free to leave comments on this post with links to those. I would appreciate it, and maybe any visitors to this blog would find it helpful.
I don’t have any experience in designing billboards – design, yes; I know how to use Photoshop and so on, but I’m not aware of the technical aspects involved in creating designs specifically for billboards (or other very large formats), and I’ve been seeing more and more graphic design job wanted ads asking for designers to create billboards as part of the job description.
The links to the tutorials:
So then, what size imagery is necessary?
Well, they still need to be rather large in file size, but most request a file to be designed using anywhere from 100dpi-150dpi (depending on project/printer specs). This is the case for any image that is created using the pixel based design program, Adobe Photoshop.
If you are creating artwork using the vector based program, Adobe Illustrator, then you do not need to concern yourself with any dpi whatsoever. In fact, Illustrator is quite accommodating when it comes to large scale production because it is vector based, the images could be scaled to a very large size without any distortion.
….Billboard imagery works using the same principles, but what they do is give you a proportion to work with.
For example a 30′ x 10′ billboard would need to be created usually at 1/4 size in proportion, to the final size, using the 100 or 150 dpi pixel dimensions. Since they enlarge your file during the printing process, much pixelization occurs but, because of the principles I mentioned before on how you are viewing a billboard image, at a distance, the viewer never sees this.
Also important to mention, most billboard companies have been doing digital billboard spaces instead of printed poster bulletins of late. Essentially, digital billboards are prepared with an even lower resolution, 72dpi, because that is the screen resolution for any digital project.
Make sure you review the billboard options and specs directly with your billboard rep, as there is not one set billboard size, usually several to choose from.
The author of that page advises designers to check with the PSP (print service provider) to find out what color space should be used but states that most prefer RBG. Varnish and spot colors are not used in creating graphics for Billboard, according to the author, as large format digital presses are used, not traditional off set presses, and the substrate used it normally thicker than most papers used on off-set presses.
The author of that page also explains that in large scale projects, Photoshop and Illustrator will be used, not a page layout program such as InDesign.
Design issues to watch out for:
1. Do not use hairlines
2. Do not fill picture boxes with none unless vector art from an illustration program such as Illustrator is used
3. When using large areas of black make sure to build a new color in the color list “Rich Black” with the following color values; Cyan 40%, Magenta 40%, Yellow 20%, Black 100%.
This will give your print a richer/ denser feel, much more pleasing to the eye! (Note: this is only for large black ink areas, DO NOT use rich black for text or thin lines or run risk of blurring your image)
Marginally helpful tips and tutorials on the topic, or that are somewhat related to the topic:
Rich Black Settings in Photoshop for Large Format Printing – You Tube video
Becca Allen shows you how to translate a large-scale mural from Illustrator onto a wall using a projector, chalk and plenty of paint
Creating Billboard Artwork in Photoshop (only parts of this tutorial are free)