Fundamentals Printing Knowledge

Conventional analog imaging systems have been used for many years for capturing and processing images for the print industry. Digital imaging has had a significant impact in print and Web workflows, as the electronic preparation, capture, manipulation, and processing of images easily occurs at the desktop.

Analog Images

Analog images are created from a photographic process that uses film in a camera as a means to capture the image. The image is called a continuous tone image, consisting of a range of smoothly graduated tones. There can be thousands of tonal values that are present in continuous tone images, regardless of whether it is a black and white or a full color image.

Digital Images

Digital images are created by filmless processes, which record the image on media such as internal computer memory, a CD, a floppy disk, or flash memory. Digital cameras and scanners are the devices used to capture the image which then is processed and displayed in graduated tones constructed of thousands of individual cells or pixels, often presented in a square shape. Instead of being a continuous tone of colors, the cells form a grid of color elements placed together in rows and columns. As the image is captured, the color data is recorded in bits or bit depth. Bit depth forms the resolution of the image. As the amount of data (bits or bit depth) increases by using devices that are capable of recording more data, the amount of colors that can be reproduced increases. A higher resolution will provide a greater amount of colors, and therefore, a smoother gradation of color tones.

The various stages of image development are being effectively integrated into enterprise publishing systems to allow greater efficiency and increased functionality for all aspects of layout, design, and output. At the beginning stages of the process, there are several devices that are utilized to capture images:

  • Process Camera - a device that uses film to capture analog images.
  • Digital Camera - a filmless device used to digitally photograph and capture images as an electronic file.
  • Scanners - a device to digitize the light and dark color values of flat art, slides, or photographic prints and convert the values into an electronic file.
  • Kodak's Photo CD's - a device to capture images that exist on film and are then stored as an electronic file.

Note: When planning for digital image capture, with either the scanner or the digital camera, remember to consider the resolution and the bit depth best suited for your needs from capture through output. The image resolution will be measured in dots per inch (dpi) and the bit depth will be measured in bits of color recorded for each pixel. The higher the dpi, the better the resolution. The greater the bit depth, the more colors that are represented, providing a better reproduction of the captured image.


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