Online Help Topics

What is the difference in an Mpix Press product and the prints that Mpix has always provided?

Mpix has become synonymous with providing great photographic prints. Mpix is now offering press product through our new service – Mpix Press. Mpix Press is a new technology whereby prints are made on several different substrates with a toner process. Certainly there are tradeoffs with press products versus the traditional high quality photographic print including great paper selection, durability, ability to print on front and back, and the ability to create custom products.

With Mpix Press you have a multitude of product options to choose from and the tools for creating them… your imagination is your only limit. Greeting Cards, Promo Cards, Business Cards, Playing Cards, and Calendars are all products you can use to broaden your offering. The proverbial sky is the limit with possibilities.

Such products were once only available in runs of 100's or 1000's from printing companies, but new digital technology now makes single quantities and short runs possible.

How do I create an Mpix Press order?

To get started, simply click the ‘Press Products’ button on your homepage once you are signed in. You will be directed to a web page that shows all of our available Press Products. To get started, just click on any product that you would like to create. A step-by-step guide is in place to walk you through the ordering process.

What are the system requirements for using the Mpix Press Desktop Solution?

You should have a minimum 500MHz speed processor with 256MB RAM and 210MB of free disk space. Apple OS X 10.4 or higher, and all current versions of Windows will support the application.

What file formats are accepted?

Mpix accepts only jpeg/jpg file format.

Can I combine my Mpix Press orders with photographic products?

Unfortunately, no. The unique nature of this product makes it impossible to combine paper types.

How do I crop my images?

Mpix Press software allows you the ability to crop and edit as needed. Please remember that with Press products a certain amount of "bleed" is required. Bleed is the term used to describe when an image extends beyond the boundary of the page. There are several mechanical finishing steps that require some latitude for cutting and folding. Generally speaking 1/8 of an inch of extra room is required around the edge of an image that will be "bleeding" off the page. Please keep critical elements of the image or any text and graphics within the bleed area.

What is "Bleed"?

Bleed is a term used to describe when image that runs all the way to the edge of a trimmed page. If your design calls for image to extend to the edge of the paper your image or color is "bleeding" off the page, and you need to build a bleed into your document.

Can't you just print to the edge of the paper?

No, a printing press cannot run ink to the very edge of the paper. If your design calls for an image to run to the edge of the paper, we have to print the item on a sheet of paper that's larger than the actual size of the finished page. We then trim the larger sheet of paper down to actual trim size. You need to build a bleed into your document that extends beyond the final page size. Bleed ensures that no slivers of white show at paper's edge on the final product.

How do I build a bleed into my document?

Bleed size varies by process and by equipment. Consequently there is no "standard" bleed size. We use 1/8" as our bleed size. That’s 1/8th of an inch all around the finished trim edge.

For demonstration purposes, let's say you're designing a postcard that is 5" x 7" at final size. You should set up your image to be 5.25" x 7.25", to allow for .125" all the way around. If you have any images or color that go to the edge of your page, please extend the image and/or color to the image edge, realizing that approximately 1/8 of an inch will be trimmed off in the final document. It may be helpful to bring guides into your file, each placed .125" inside the outer edges of the page. Your ultimate "bleed size" will be 5.25" x 7.25". Your "trim size" is 5" x 7".

How do I complete my order?

Once you complete your design, click the 'Preview' button in the lower right-hand corner. Once you have previewed and approve of the design, click the 'Add to Cart' button. A prompt will open asking you to verify your project; if you are happy with the design click to verify this. The website will then re-direct you to the Mpix shopping cart, where your Mpix Press product is now waiting to be ordered.

What is your turnaround time for Mpix Press products?

In most cases, your press products will be shipped within 1-2 business days. In some cases, especially as the holidays approach, shipping may be extended an additional 1-2 days. Actual shipping time will vary based on your selected shipping method.

What is the Calendar size and how will I get it?

Calendars at Mpix Press are printed in two different sizes: 12" x 18", and 17"x11". The 12"x18" is spiral bound at the top. The 17"x11" is spiral bound in the middle and folds down to 8.5"x11".

What are some ways that custom printable Calendars can be used?

The Custom Calendars can be used as a gift for a loved one, something to share with family and friends on special events, as a promotional wall calendar for a small business, a teambuilding instrument for groups, a memorable present for graduation, and even a fundraising tool. Alternatively, it could just serve as your regular calendar!

What should I look for in a personal calendar?

When considering a personal calendar, you should look for the following elements:

* Level of customization – can you insert your own picture or pictures? Can you add your own text messages? Can you place your personal events on the calendar? Can you select to use your own holidays set?
* Level of design – Can you choose one of many ready Calendar templates? Can you change the design of the Calendar? Can you add additional design elements to the Calendar on top of its original design?
* Output quality – How professional does the final output look? What is the paper quality and weight? What is the printing quality? Is it an Ink Jet output, a Laser/Copier output, or a real offset quality output?

Will I need to be a graphic designer to create my own Customized Printable Calendar?

Absolutely not. Our My Photo Calendars tool creator software comes with many design templates that were professionally pre-made for your use. You create a great custom Calendar simply by selecting one of our design templates and customizing the content with your own personal information. If you feel creative, you can always start changing the design template, adding your own design touch. The level of change and design you choose to take depends only on your creativity and preference. In any case, the result will be a customized Calendar -- a personalized gift of the highest quality.

What is dpi, image size, and why is it important?

When sending a job to be printed, whether at home or at a professional printer, it is important to remember that the quality of the printed image will always be only as good as the quality of the images used in the creation process.

Generally, a computer monitor will present an image using a screen resolution of approximately 72-96 dots-per-inch (dpi). That is, any inch on the screen is divided into 72 dots vertically and 72 dots horizontally, and those dots, also known as Pixels, generate the presentation for this inch on the screen.

Printing on paper, however, requires a higher dots-per-inch resolution to achieve photo quality output. The quality will depend on the image resolution as well as an array of other factors, such as the color range that can be applied to a dot by the printer, the printer technology (Inkjet, Toner, Ink), and the paper quality. Typically the DPI of a printable image should be at least 150 (DPI), 200 DPI will be better, and a 300 DPI image will insure the high quality of the printed output.

How do I determine the dpi of an image?

The size of an image is measured in pixels. The quality of the printed output is measured in dots-per- inch. For simplicity, let’s treat a pixel as a dot. In other words, the quality of the printed output will be measured by the number of pixels/dots we can print per inch. The more dots the printer can access, the higher the quality of the picture. So if an image is 600 pixels per side, and it is printed at 600 dots-per-inch (DPI), it will print as an image 1 inch wide and high. If the image is enlarged to 2 inches the DPI will drop to 300, and if the image will be enlarged to 6 inches. The DPI will drop to 100.

If you divide the number of pixels of an image by the DPI you seek the printable image to be (typically 150-300) the result will be the appropriate size of that image.

Pixels / DPI = Size of image (in inches) For example: If image size is 1280x1024 pixels and you want the printed output to be of 200 DPI quality, divide the pixels (1280x1024) by the DPI you seek (200). That will result in a 6.40 x 5.12 inch image with 200 DPI quality on the printed output, or a 4.27 x 3.41 inch 300 DPI image (1280/300=4.27 inches; 1024/300=3.41 inches)

To calculate the image print DPI, you divide the image size in pixels with the image size in inch (as will appear on paper).

DPI = Pixels / Size of image (in Inches) For example, a 640x480 pixel image displayed as an 8 7/8 x 6 2/3 inch image has a 72 DPI resolution. When printed at this size, this image will suffer from low quality, as it has a 72 dots-per-inch resolution. If this image would be used to print a 2.1 x 1.6 inch image (representing a 300 dots-per-inch resolution), its quality will be excellent.

Important note: In our Calendar software you can easily view the actual used image DPI. Right click on the image. The second item on the menu will be "picture setting." Click on it and a dialog box called "object setting" will open. Look under the top right hand side box (titled Location) and it will read "image is XYZ dpi."

What is the "right" dpi?

You can achieve photo quality results when using as few as 150-200 dots-per-inch (dpi) images. The basic rule to maintain image quality is that the number of pixels in the image bitmap file must increase as the size of the printed picture increases. Otherwise, individual pixels will become larger in the print and the picture will get a jagged and grainy texture.

Important note: In our Calendar software you can easily view the actual used image DPI. Right click on the image. The second item on the menu will be "picture setting." Click on it and a dialog box called "object setting" will open. Look under the top right hand side box (titled Location) and it will read "image is XYZ dpi."

What are the suggested guidelines for image quality?

Below are a few rules of thumb when using images for print:

* Start with the largest images available from your digital camera or scanner.
* The original image as viewed on screen at 72 dpi should be 2 to 4 times bigger than its size on paper.
* Try to maintain a resolution of not less than 150 dots-per-inch for the image. (In our program you can tell the dpi of your image by right-clicking a picture and going to "picture setting").
* Don't overshoot! Most people will not be able to see the difference without searching for it.

What are the drawbacks of too much dpi?

For printing, more dpi is generally better. However, too much information will require more memory, longer print times and larger output requiring much longer upload time. On the other hand, in most cases the difference in quality between a 200 dpi image and 400 dpi image will not be noticeable to the human eye.

What is image compression and why should I care about it?

Images tend to be quite large in size. For example, a 4"x6" image at 300 DPI will be more than 6 MB in size. This requires considerable storage space and is very slow to transmit over the internet.

JPEG is a compression technique designed for compressing images of natural, real-world scenes. It works well on photographs, naturalistic artwork, and similar material. JPEG is commonly "lossy," meaning that the decompressed image is not quite the same as the one with which you started. JPEG is designed to exploit known limitations of the human eye, notably the fact that small color changes are perceived less accurately than small changes in brightness. Most changes in the image are invisible to the eye.

JPEG can achieve a 20:1 compression ratio without any visible loss, and up to a 50:1 ratio with small to moderate defects. That is, the above 6 MB image can be compressed to a 300 KB image with no visible change to the image. Keep in mind that in most cases, you can achieve a great compression ratio without any visible differences to the image.

If you are using reasonable quality images and reasonable compression, you can expect your images to be of high quality when printed. If the images you start with are either low quality or too compressed, the final printed results maybe be less desirable. However, keep in mind that too much is not always better. A 4"x6", 300 DPI non-compressed image and a 200 DPI JPEG compressed images will probably produce similar results. Transferring the image to print over the internet using a 56 Kbps modem will take approximately 18 minutes at the high DPI that is noncompressed as opposed to 25 seconds of the moderate DPI image that is slightly compressed.

Saving Tips

  • Saving your Press Product using the Online Solution works best if you have added the product to your shopping cart. By adding the product to your cart, you can store and manage unlimited products.
  • Only one open project can be saved at a time. Choosing to save an open project will delete all other saved projects.
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