Why we supply PDFs
The reason Lavinia Stamps supply digital downloads as PDF files in favour of Jpegs is because the Jpeg is a “lossy” format and as such can destroy delicate fine detail when opened in image manipulation programs – and this is most certainly the case when an image is resized and saved back over the original (a common mistake).
I’ll try to explain this in a non-technical simplified manner:
When you save a file as a jpeg, a lot of the image information (in the form of pixels) is discarded to achieve a small file size. When the file is subsequently reopened for editing, those missing pixels are “reinvented” based upon those that were saved.
To be fair, the Jpeg algorithm does a pretty good job of this and you probably wouldn’t notice too much difference after one resize, save and reopen. But repeat this cycle several times and as the illustration shows, you can expect all those nice smooth curves to become pixelated and fuzzy – not what you want to see on your artwork creations!
The PDF format allows you to open it in your image editing program, at or close to, the final required size without affecting the quality. Once you have worked on the image, you should then ideally save the new version as a TIFF, a BMP or PSD (Photoshop file) all of which are lossless formats.
Prints are always better quality when made from a TIFF or PSD. You should only ever create a Jpeg version when saving the final image for use on the internet. And always retain your original PDF download for when you need to use it for a new project.
By following this workflow you will maintain the integrity of the original and therefore best quality throughout the creative process.
Image Editing Software
Most image editing programs have the ability to open PDF files directly, including most versions of Photoshop, Illustrator, Paintshop Pro, and free programs such as Picasa, Gimp etc.
If you are using the likes of Paint (bundled free with Windows) or any other software that doesn’t support PDFs, you can use the free on-line service at http://www.zamzar.com/ to convert it to a .BMP file in just a couple of minutes.
If you just want to print the downloaded image onto paper or card, you can do so directly from Adobe Reader, using your printer’s dialogue to adjust the final printed size.
Adobe Reader can be downloaded free from: https://get.adobe.com/uk/reader/otherversions/