Illustrator CS4: eps to bmp without losing print quality

Posted on 2011-03-02
Last Modified: 2013-12-02

I have a bunch of EPS files.  If I print them directly from Adobe Illustrator CS4, they look ok, but as soon as I convert it to bmp (which is the format I need for the program i'm printing from), the quality drops immensely.

I'm certainly no expert when it comes to Illustrator, but I've mucked around with it before and had this work fine.

What might I be missing this time around?

Question by:Stief-Group
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Expert Comment

by:David Brugge
ID: 35020871
The nice thing about vector art is that it adjusts itself to the highest resolution that the printer can output. Printing to a 300ppi dot matrix printer, that's what you get. Printing to a 3200ppi image setter, output is 3200ppi.

When you export your image to a raster image such as bmp, you are locking in the resolution. It is, what it is, so to speak. The higher the resolution that you output, the better the print quality. But bmp files were never intended to look good in print, just on screen.

In general, about the only effect that you can have on quality other than resolution is turning antialiasing on and off.

Author Comment

ID: 35028084
Ok, thanks for the clarification.

Perhaps you can help me fine tune the output to bmp?  I need to end up with an image that is 145 pixels wide by 78 pixels high.  So I set that as the artboard size and then scale the vector image to fit.  But once I export to bmp file, at 300dpi, the image is huge!

Is there a formula for how that works?

Expert Comment

ID: 35028139
Your artboard should be set to 72dpi as this is the normal screen resolution and so your image will remain the same size as the pixels dimensions you specified. As Stief-Group said, BMP is for screen output not for print. 300dpi is a print output resolution (unless you have an infeasibly high resolution screen!)
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Expert Comment

ID: 35028267
Sorry just to clarify - you should export at 72dpi or import into Photoshop (or whatever image editor you're using) at 72dpi. To be honest if you're working with raster images (like bmp) you'd be better off working with a photo editor like Photoshop rather than a vector manipulation programme like Illustrator.

Author Comment

ID: 35028332
I have no choice but to convert to BMP as that's a requirement of the program I need to print from, I'm just trying to get the best quality of BMP from the vector based image as possible.

I mean, we're not talking about fine-tooth-comb quality.  It's essentially just a company logo to be printed as a page header.   So given the limitations of bmp files for printing.  How do I get from an eps file to a bmp file of 145x78 pixels while losing the least amount of quality?

Thanks again

Expert Comment

ID: 35029056
I would open the EPS file into Photoshop and reduce the image size to the dimensions you specified but keep the DPI at 72 to maintain the correct size. This will keep everything the right size and Photoshop will make sure you get the best quality. If you don't have Photoshop, you could try nearly any other photo editor even Paint.Net (which is free) to do the same job.

However, as you are looking for this as a page header you should beware that the small size you specified in pixels will probably end up being quite small on printed page too. Photoshop has a section in the image sizing area which enables you to specify the print size too (actual physical printed size in mm/cm/inches etc) - this might be worth adjusting to give you the best compromise of detail, size and dimensions. You can then save as a bitmap file once you're happy with the output.

Accepted Solution

roddymatheson earned 250 total points
ID: 35029092
If not using Photoshop, you'll need to convert the EPS to another image format first using Illustrator - the 300dpi file would do fine. Then open that file in the photo editor to adjust to the correct dimensions and resolution.
LVL 26

Assisted Solution

by:David Brugge
David Brugge earned 250 total points
ID: 35029556
If this is for print, forget about the 72 ppi.

 You need to know what resolution the printer is printing and save to THAT resolution. 72dpi will always look as rough as a cob. If this is a thermal printer such as for a cash register receipt, 144ppi or higher is likely. If it is an inkjet printer, then 300 ppi is more likely.

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