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Planning - Product Photos

One of the first things you should consider when planning your product catalog is your audience. Is this catalog intended to be printed, or viewed on-screen only?

If the document will be printed, how important is the product image? Will your customers focus on the data and text, or do they need to be able to clearly see all the fine details in the image?

These factors will affect how you should best prepare your product photos. CleverCat has tools which make it easy to create PDF documents for both purposes, using the same set of data, so this tutorial will describe a range of options.

Page Format

A PDF document is universal and can be viewed and printed from almost any device - PC, Mac, Tablets and Phones. CleverCat makes it easy to create PDF documents in a range of formats, but the Paperless Office concept has never really taken hold so most users will find it best to continue with the traditional letter or A4 format.

Page Format does not directly affect the size of your product images unless your choice changes the number of products on a page. And while it's possible to create a format that's only intended for a phone, such as this 16:9 Mobile-friendly PDF in Portrait mode, the documents in this tutorial (which readers may view on either mobile or desktop screen) are formatted with a ratio of 16:9 in Landscape orientation.



Image Size

One of the most common questions we receive is - How big should my images be? The exact size of the images files is not that important because the application will automatically adjust the images to fit the allocated space. However, some users are just looking for a number so the advice we give is:
For viewing on screen: 400 pixels wide at 96dpi.
For printing: Reduce images files to under 200Kb.

These parameters are going to work well for the majority of users and I'll describe an easy method for creating images within those values but first I'll demonstrate why it is important to reduce the size of your images. Begin by opening the first PDF below.

File Size Comparison

Can you tell the difference between the two images without zooming in? The document itself is formatted to 8 inches wide. The image on the left has been formatted to print at 1200 dpi at a width of 2.5 inches, very close to what it will actually print at. The image on the right is formatted to 96 dpi and 400 pixels wide. If you are viewing the PDF on a typical wide-screen monitor or tablet, chances are it is somewhere in the range of 300 to 500 pixels wide.

If you zoom in, you will start to notice some differences in the finer details. The biggest difference though is the size of the PDF file. Try the next two examples to compare the loading time of a file that uses only high-resolution images compared to one that uses only lower resolution.

High-resolution file: 4.7Mb

Lower-resolution file: 0.2Mb

There will be a noticeable difference in how long it takes to open the files, and that's just for two images. If your catalog has hundreds of high-resolution images, your customers could be waiting several minutes while the file opens. So, the better answer to the question of the size of the photos is that they should be small and fast enough to provide the best viewing experience for your customer while being large enough to show important detail.

If you will need to create two sets of images - one for high-resolution printing and another for lower-resolution on-screen viewing, continue reading this tutorial. Otherwise, you can skip directly to the tutorial for Resizing Photos now.


On the Category Editor form, there is a function which will make it easy to create and switch between two sets of images.

The option on the Printing page enables users to more quickly produce a draft document for proofing - lower-resolution images print faster and if you are repeatedly sending the document to someone for review before final printing, a smaller document will load faster as well.

Thumbnails are created with a width of 250 pixels. For some users, this width will be appropriate for the on-screen version of their catalog. If I had designed my own sample template to show three products in a row instead of two, the product images would have been very close to 250 pixels wide on most viewers' screens.

For some users, creating Image Sub-Folders will be useful for organizing large numbers of photos. For those who want two sets of images, the procedure will be as follows. First, create two Sub-Folders, one for higher and one for lower resolution images. Before uploading photos on the Data Editor form, select the appropriate folder using the drop-down selector. On the Data Editor, use the Photo Uploader to upload images into the currently selected folder. Return to the Category Editor and select the other Sub-Folder and then upload the next set of images back on the Data Editor form.
When you need to switch between high and lower resolution, open the Category Editor form for any category, select the appropriate folder and click the Copy button. This will set the Sub-Folder selection for every category at once.

For some users, there is a shortcut that may work just as well.

On the Printing page, there is an option for printing using thumbnails. When you upload photos, thumbnails are automatically created. These are shown instead of the original image in the Photo Selection grid and in the Preview Box on the Data Editor form to improve performance.


Return to Tutorial Selection or continue to the next tutorial: Resizing Photos