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I am creating a book in InDesign for the first time. It's a children's book that will feature scanned actual photos that I've touched up in Photoshop and am dropping into Indesign. I've saved these as PDFs.

I have to scale these up significantly (most are done on a standard 8x10 page, the book is going to be 12x18. And I am worried about losing quality as the image gets printed.

Is there a trick to this I am missing? Should they be made into a vector image? When I do this, the Vector image actually appears worse than if I drop a PSD or PDF into indesign.

This book is hugely colorful and I don't want to make a mistake that will wind up costing me a large amount of work if I have to convert them later to .ai or something.

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The appearance of photos and anything linked is NOT displayed at the full quality that you designed them at. To run faster, InDesign by default will show the photos as "Typical Display" settings.

Change the quality for a single image:

Right click on the frame -> Display Performance -> (pick quality level)

Change the quality for all images:

View -> Display Performance -> (pick quality level)


I've saved these as PDFs. Is there a trick to this I am missing?

Make sure you have converted the images to CMYK color space.

Should they be made into a vector image?

Depends on how you want the art to look. If you're scanning an actual photo, then the graphics will be an image and not a vector.

  • I just deleted my answer since this is more detailed. I would also suggest resizing the image files in Photoshop to the final size that you want them to be. You have more control over the image there. Then save them as either PDF or PSD, and "place" in InDesign. – acook712 Mar 1 '16 at 16:11
  • On "Converting to CMYK": please ask whoever does the printing. In both PhotoShop and InDesign there are multiple options, and you need to know what the purpose is to make an educated guess. Some printers prefer the original 'RGB', so they can do their own (best) color conversion. – usr2564301 Mar 1 '16 at 22:00
  • Thank you very much. I am going to contact the printer to see how they will finally print today. This was very helpful. – Allisin Mar 2 '16 at 14:41
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I'm only comenting about the images.

will feature scanned actual photos that I've touched up in Photoshop

1) Scanned. That means you have the original in paper or film? Use a high dinamic range scanner and scan at the resolution you will need.

12x18 so you need a file 3600x5400 px.

That meant you needed to scan the 8x10 photos at 540 ppi. The minimum you needed is 400 ppi.

That is the most important step. From there the images will be at the right resolution all the way.

2) Color. There are 2 points here. Your monitor calibrated and your color workflow and profiles defined.

3) No need to do vector at all. If thoose are photos, and adjusted in photoshop, vectorizing them will change the look completley, it is a totally diferent ilustration technique and style.

  • Okay, that is what I assumed. The vector version made these drawings look terrible. I am learning so much from this community. – Allisin Mar 2 '16 at 14:41
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AndrewH answered it clearly and with good details. However, I would like to add few things to follow.

Embed your PSD files

Embedding help you maintain quality of your imported documents, and you can just work on that PSD file and relink & Embed for any updates/changes you made.

Work in High Res canvas for raster based image

This helps you maintain quality even when you need to resize the Indesign documents.

Dont Downsample Image while exporting

Yet another feature of Indesign, where we can choose to downsample or keep the original file for print based documents.

  • Being a professional working the past decade-and-a-half with InDesign on a daily basis, I have to downvote this. On your point 1: no. Embedding is not only unnecessary, it makes the file much larger and may even make it unstable. Relinking is also an option with non-embedded files. It has zero to do with 'quality'. On Don't Downsample: yes, do so! What use is the extra data, for a print? With the right 'maximum dpi' settings - ask your printer - the PDF file will only be as large as necessary. – usr2564301 Mar 1 '16 at 21:57
  • ... the only reason I don't say anything on your pt 2, by the way, is I don't understand what it means. There are no 'canvases' in InDesign. Resizing 'documents' - you mean "images", right? You don't need a high res preview for resizing, you only need to look at the resulting Effective PPI. – usr2564301 Mar 1 '16 at 23:18
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    Sorry if I misunderstood things about Indesign, I'm not a pro. And thanks for correcting me. FYI on point 1, I mean to embed only necessary raster files, thought it would be helpful to maintain quality of raster based images. On point 2, I mean working with appropriate canvas in photoshop, so as to maintain quality while re scaling them in InDesign. – pdlbibek Mar 2 '16 at 8:01

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