File Specifications

We’ve assembled these guidelines to assist you in achieving the highest quality from your digital files with the fastest turnaround. Following these instructions will not only quicken the process in the preparation of your images at your computer, but will also help expedite your orders through the lab quicker.

1) Color Management

At Natural Color, you now have the choice of two color spaces to work in: sRGB or Adobe RGB 1998. Whichever color space you decide to use, it is a good idea to set Photoshop up to use it as the default.

Open Photoshop, and proceed with the following:

  • In Windows, choose Edit > Color Settings.
  • In Mac OS, choose Photoshop > Color Settings.

Under Working Spaces:

      • RGB    : select either sRGB IEC61966-2.1 or Adobe RGB 1998
      • CMYK : use default setting
      • Gray   : select Gray Gamma 2.2
      • Spot  : use default setting

Under Management Policies:

      • RGB: Convert to Working RGB
      • CMYK: Off
      • Gray: Off
      • Profile Mismatches: Uncheck Ask When Opening and Ask When Pasting.

Whenever you open a file saved and tagged in a color space other than what you have preset, Photoshop will automatically convert it the working color space. If you would prefer to be prompted every time, you can check these boxes.

      • Missing Profiles: Uncheck Ask When Opening.

This will provides Photoshop with the assumption that every file without an embedded color space is the color space you have preset.

color settings

2) File Format:

In order to achieve the perfect balance between quality and speed, we recommend you save your files as Level 10 Baseline Standard JPEGS.


Our testing and evaluations have shown us that the difference between a print from a Level 10 JPEG and a TIFF is negligible. There is a big difference in size, and the JPEGS will travel through the Internet faster and process faster on your computer. We do advise that you avoid opening a JPEG, making changes, and resaving it again as a JPEG repeatedly. If your workflow calls for this to happen, save your files as TIFF or PSD files, then save them as a Level 10 JPEG when they are complete and ready for output. Images received as TIFF files will be priced out as custom because of the time frame associated with transferring these images to our system. This is our way of convincing you that the quality output from a JPEG file is just as good as that from a TIFF file.

Level 10 JPEG vs. Level 12 JPEG

Why choose Level 10 JPEG over Level 12 JPEG? Based on testing done at the lab, you will not see a difference. And Level 12 JPEGS can be two to three times larger than a Level 10 JPEG. Again, that translates into faster Internet transfer times and faster computer processing times. However, we’ll be happy to run a test from one of your files saved in Level 10 and Level 12 for you to decide which setting works best for you.

3) Cropping your Image File

There is no need to crop or resize your file if it will crop to your satisfaction as you captured it. Our printers will crop your image equally from the center for each of the print sizes/proportions ordered, shifting the crop up or down if need be (ex. to avoid cutting off heads, feet, etc. We can print all file sizes from a properly centered file. For files that are not centered or files that you wish to crop in Photoshop, we recommend that you crop your image without manipulating the resolution. Your files maximum usable resolution is contained in your original camera file. The interpolation capabilities of the software in our printers are as good as they get. Our LightJet enhances sharpness through on-the-fly pixel interpolation. Because the pixels are faithful to the original image, the system can output small files at high resolution with no loss of sharpness. Therefore, you do not need to make any adjustments to your file’s resolution, just crop your image and let the resolution adjust accordingly.

To crop a file in Photoshop without manipulating the resolution:

1. Select the CROP tool crop


2. At the top of your screen is a toolbar that says Width, Height, and Resolution.

3. Set your Width and Height to the desired print size ? KEEP THE RESOLUTION BLANK. An image cropped to 8×10 (10×8 for horizontal), can be used for all proportional images that will crop from the center.

4. Drag the crop tool over the image – you will notice that the image will only crop to a specific point depending on the size you are cropping to.

5. To complete the crop, press Enter (Windows) (or Return (Mac OS), click the Commit button in the options bar, or double-click inside the cropping marquee.

6. The resolution of your image will be automatically adjusted depending on the print size chosen and the resolution of the camera used.

 7. Save your image.

Odd size prints can be easily ordered by simply adding canvas in Photoshop equal to the next larger standard size available. In the example at left, the customer needs a 3×3 print from this image:

1. Choose Image > Canvas Size. KEEP THE RESOLUTION BLANK. In this case, we have chosen 3×3.

2. Enter the desired canvas dimensions in the Width and Height boxes. In this case, the next standard size up would be 3.5×5.

3. Choose White from the Canvas Extension Color menu to fill the new canvas with that color.

4. Click OK.

5. Save your image.

6. When you send in your file to print, make sure you order the standard size print that your canvas ended up? not the odd size you are ultimately looking for. In this example, you would order a 3.5×5 print.

4) Saving Your Files

We request that you submit your files adhering to the following requirements:

  1. To compensate for the overspill factor our printers, please do not put borders or pinstripes within .25 inch of the image edge. If you require precise cropping on an image’s edges, place the image on the next larger standard size available – i.e., 4 x 5 placed on a 5 x 7 canvas
  2. Flatten all layers.
  3. Remove all extra alpha channels, paths or masks.
  4. Save as a Level 10 Baseline Standard JPEG. Please, no TIFFs.
  5. Use JPEG as your file extension name.
  6. Save your file in 8 bit RGB mode, EVEN if the file is B&W.
  7. Save the embedded profile. If you are submitting files in Adobe 1998, please indicate accordingly on your order form, or when submitting online, select the appropriate color space from the drop down menu.
  8. Resident camera file names are acceptable.
  9. Filenames must only contain letters, numbers, dashes/underscores, and spaces, followed by the .JPEG extension. Do not use of any of the following characters as this can cause problems that will delay your order: ? # % & * : < > ? { | } ~ ∙