Preparing VDP Images

Our EarthColor Alchemy™ workflow is designed to make customizing and personalizing your variable data projects easy. But the online workflow, including template selection and customization, is only half the process. The other half is preparing the images and data files in advance so that the results look exactly the way you want each time. This takes preparation behind the scenes.

With variable text, the designer must anticipate the varying lengths of the names, places, and other copy flowed into the document. For example, “John Smith” is going to take less space than “Olga Rozhdestvenskij”. During the design phase, the designer can use a variety of techniques to accommodate these variations.

On the surface, working with images might seem to be less challenging since the size and shape of the image boxes remain the same regardless of what images are being flowed into them. But this can be deceiving. While the image boxes may remain the same, the size and shape of the images themselves may not. What happens if the images don’t fit exactly into the boxes you’ve set up? What if the boxes are horizontal and some of the images are horizontal? What if those images need to be trimmed and the automated process chops off an important part of the picture?

When creating variable data print pieces, you need to know that your images will look right even when the process is automated. Making that happen is actually fairly easy as long as you take the right steps on the front end.

Let’s say you have 10 images you want to use to personalize your piece and all of them are different sizes and shapes. How do you get them to position correctly?

Step 1: Make all of the images the same size and resolution.  This will ensure that they have a consistent look and feel.

Step 2: Pre-crop the images to match your image box(es).

When you place a picture in a picture box, InDesign uses the upper left hand corner as the default for image placement. In other words, the software automatically places that image starting in the upper left hand corner. How much and what portions of the rest of the image you see will depend on the specs of the image. In the box, you might see the whole image or only a portion of it. If the image is trimmed, it will be trimmed automatically based on the default placement.

In a static workflow, trimming or resizing the image so that it looks right in the box is no big deal. You simply adjust the picture until you get it right. But in any VDP workflow, including EarthColor Alchemy™, trimming happens automatically. If you don’t prepare the images properly in advance, you can end up with some pretty strange results.

The solution is to pull each image into the page, place it into the image box you will be using, and get it to look the way you want. Then open that image in Photoshop, trim it to the same specifications as the FPO image and save it. Do this with each image you will be using. Now when the workflow pulls in those images automatically you will have no surprises. Every image will look right every time.

Adding image personalization to your marketing pieces doesn’t have to be challenging. You just need to be proactive about it. Create consistency and you will have predictable results.

To learn more about EarthColor Alchemy™ contact us today.

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