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Resolution Guide


An image that look good on screen might not look good in print. If the image looked sharp on your monitor appears pixelated in print, that is because of resolution of the images.

This guide will help you to understand the requirement of resolution for print.

What is resolution of images?

Resolution is a decription of image quality. A high resolution image will appear sharp and precise, while a low resolution image will be blurred or pixelated.

The standard units for measuring resolution are pixels per inch (ppi) on screen and dots per inch (dpi) in print, indicating the number of dots or pixels along an inch long line. The more image data there is to play with, the finer the picture quality.

What resolution is required?

The industry standard requirement for digital artwork is minimum 300ppi, or pixels per inch. This will contain enough image data to allow printer to print a 300dpi.

How to create high resolution artwork?

If you are using design software to create your artwork, it is important to set the resolution for your artwork from the outset. In most programs, when you create a new image, a dialogue box will ask you how large you want your canvas and crucially X resolution and Y resolution.

X resolution dictates pixel density horizontally across the image and Y resolution does the same vertically. Lock these fields together or ensure the two values are identical to ensure consistent resolution horizontally and vertically.

There’ll usually be the option to pick what units of pixel density you’d like to use for resolution. For our purposes choose ‘pixels/in’ (this may appear as ‘PPI’ or ‘DPI’). For the vast majority of commercial print work, 300 will be an appropriate value to go for, because a 300ppi digital image will directly translate to 300dpi print resolution.

If you aren’t creating your artwork from scratch, you may want to check the resolution of any source images you wish to use.

How to check resolution?

File size can be a fair indicator of an image. When preparing digital artwork to send to print, a revealing way to check it on screen is to zoom on the image at three or four times the size of the final print. Viewing a PDF at 300% or 400% for example give you an impression of how it might appear once printed.

When certain parts of artwork are low resolution?

Unfortunately, when an image that forms part of your artwork is low res, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to fix it. A skilled artworker may be able to sharpen up an image that’s only slightly below the threshold, but if there simply isn’t enough information there to display a sharp image, there’s not a lot that can be done.

In this case, the best idea is to replace low-resolution images with better quality, high-resolution ones. This could mean asking a designer to recreate them from scratch, or sourcing high-resolution stock imagery from one of the many providers online.

If you did require a designer to rebuild your image, our in-house design team is on hand to help. Please contact us for a quote and we’ll be happy to assist with creating artwork that’s perfect print quality.

The last option is to “risk it” and print your images as they are. This might be worth considering for very large items designed to be viewed at a distance, but we don’t recommend this approach as you most likely won’t achieve the clean, crisp appearance you’re after.

When part of artwork is vectorised and the rest is low-resolution?

This dilemma suggests that the wrong settings have been used in the software used to create your image. As a result, the quality has been reduced when saving as a JPEG or PDF. This can happen if the export settings in Adobe InDesign are incorrectly configured, or if the PDF has been saved from an MS Word document.

Preparing artwork in MS Word is seldom a good idea and best avoided. However, if you’re exporting from InDesign, make sure the resolution options are set to a minimum of 300ppi and that compression is set at maximum.