Images and Illustrations

Hardly anyone will argue the fact that images and designs created with their help can substantially improve documents. Visual memory is important to memorize information, details and images help you in that.

How can images be used?

— to deliver additional information about yourself, your activities, clarify text (a picture is worth a thousand words).
— to divide elements: separate information, stress important points, etc.
— to draw attention, make a document (business card, envelope, etc.) remembered (stand out from the crowd).

Image Types

Raster image

Raster images are the most common type, the most used formats: JPEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP, PNG. All raster images consist of dots that causes quality loss when increasing the size or printing out an image (as the dots become bigger). Remember: your image may look awesome on the screen but print out in poor quality.
Size (300 pixels wide and 400 pixels high — 300 x 400) and Resolution (number of pixels per square inch) are among the most important characteristics of raster images.

Masked picture

Among raster images special attention should be paid to masked pictures. Regular photo is a rectangle consisting of pixels. Applying another picture — mask to it allows to fade or switch off some pixels of the main image. What is the benefit of this? If you have separate photos of a teapot and a table, combining them into a single picture is impossible. However, if the teapot image is masked — then there will be no problem — all pixels around the teapot are off with the help of mask.

Vector or raster

Another important image type is vector images, usually in EPS, PDF or WMF format. Vector images consist of lines and fills, thus the quality of these pictures is not lost if their size is increased. Usually, vector images are drawn ones.

There is no definite answer to the question “Which pictures are better to use: vector or raster?”.
Vector images add to a technical, strict look of a document. Using vector pictures, you shouldn’t worry about the quality of the printed document. On the other side, raster images deliver you a wide choice of colors, half-tints and shapes. Often this can be the only alternative to show real objects (all you have are photos).

Where Can I Find Images?

1. One way to find all of the images you need for a project is to purchase software with included clipart. However, these images can typically only be used in the program itself. One example would be the Extras pack that comes with Business Card Composer, Disc Cover, and all of the other Printfolio programs. The package comes with over 40,000+ clipart images. Usually, this is a cheap way of getting photos for your projects as opposed to the high costs of stock images.

2. The second way is to buy clipart from an online clipart collection, which store millions of images available either on a subscription or per-image basis. The prices may vary depending on the image quality, license or chosen price plan:

http://depositphotos.com         One of the best collections of raster and vector images.
http://www.clipart.com/            Paid access to a huge number of images
http://www.absolutvision.com/ Great photo objects collection
http://vector-images.com         Clipart of vector images (Heraldic is included)

3. Thirdly, you can make the image yourself. Nowadays digital cameras allow you to take a necessary picture and use it later (or take one from a friend). A good advice: keep your photos in Apple iPhoto. Apart from convenient preview and search, you get editing possibilities. And other programs (like Labels & Addresses, Business Card Composer, Swift Publisher and Disc Cover) that integrate with iPhoto allow to use your digital photos when creating new designs.
If you want to insert a vector image or a scheme, try drawing it with the help of an excellent EazyDraw software.

4. Finally, you can search endless Internet for the image you need. By typing a keyword in image section of Google you can find relevant pictures (http://images.google.com). Similar functionality is available directly from Labels & Addresses, Business Card Composer, Swift Publisher and Disc Cover. This is virtually the only way to find an image of a unique thing or place. You should be aware that some pictures can be used only after obtaining the author’s permission.
Below you can find links to web sites with free photos (copyright permissions are available on these sites):

http://www.freefoto.com/
http://www.freeimages.co.uk/
http://www.pbase.com/ Photo sharing and photo hosting web site
http://www.flickr.com/ Online photo sharing web site
http://picasaweb.google.com/ Online photo sharing web site
http://www.openclipart.org/ The library for high-quality Free clip art

To conclude, graphic should be used carefully, too much of it can also spoil your documents.


Valeriy Ryazanov
Last reviewed: February 2009