Most of the everyday printing mistakes people make are related to image resolution. That’s because, if you’ve never taken photography or graphic design class, you’ve never had to think about image resolution!
We’ve provided a crash course on image resolution below. We also created a free Super Resolution tool for you to use to enhance your images for the best custom printing experience!
What is image resolution, anyway?
Resolution refers to the amount of detail within an image. The higher the resolution, the greater the crispness of the picture.
Why is image resolution important?
It’s much easier for a picture to tell a story or communicate the idea of artistic beauty when it’s loaded with details. High-resolution photos, posters, and canvas prints draw people in and invite them to engage with the image.
If you’re a nature photographer, for example, high-resolution images help you show off both depth of field and minute details, like individual leaves on trees or tufts of fur on an animal.
When you’re ordering promotional giveaway items or custom printed gifts, resolution impacts how clean, and professional the finished product will look. That means it’s your responsibility to provide your printer with the highest possible image resolution to get good results.
What happens when the image resolution is too low?
Basically, when the resolution and quality of the original image file aren’t high enough, the printing and enlargement process can’t work correctly.
Most of us have experienced printing a resized photo and having it come out blurry, pixelated, or with distorted colors. All those issues are the result of low image resolution.
How is resolution measured?
Traditionally, the resolution of printed images is measured in Dots Per Inch (DPI). As the name implies, DPI quantifies how many tiny dots the “pen” of the printer makes per inch of paper.
To provide a sense of scale, a photo-quality poster is either 150 or 300 DPI.
If you are hoping to make a copy of an existing physical image, it makes sense to think about resolution in DPI.
For digital images, the resolution is measured using Pixels Per Inch (PPI). PPI quantifies how many pixels (tiny colored squares) make up each piece of the picture.
300 PPI is considered “best” or professional quality resolution, while approximately 150 PPI is considered very good resolution.
If you’re printing images from a flash drive or file upload, you need to think in PPI.
How can I find the resolution of my image files?
Determining image resolution is reasonably straightforward, but it works a little differently depending on what kind of computer you are using.
Finding Image Resolution on a PC
Right-click on any image file and go to “Properties.” Click over to the “Details” tab, and both the horizontal and vertical resolution of your image in DPI will appear.
Finding Image Resolution on a Mac
Right-click on any image file and go to “Get Info.” Click the triangle next to “More Info” to reveal the pixel dimensions of the image. The PPI of the printed version of that image can be calculated based on the dimensions (in inches) of the final product.
A straightforward conversion table illustrating optimal PPI for images of various dimensions can be found here.
How can I improve the resolution of my image files?
If you’re finding the resolution of your image files is too low for reliable printing, it’s time to go back to your originals.
Review your upload files directly from your camera, phone, or memory card instead of photos you’ve already resized or edited using software on your computer. If you’re not using professional photo editing software, the tiny changes you’re making to your images may actually be resulting in lower-quality files.
To achieve the 300 PPI necessary for best-quality printing, be sure you’re sharing your images with your printer asTIFF or PDF files. Those JPEGs may not have the DPI you need to achieve your goals, especially at large scale. Remember to convert your originals, as they’ll be the most detailed versions.
Get the highest quality custom printing
Whether you’re looking to print beautiful photographs, design artistic conversation pieces, or promote a business with professional flair, PosterBurner is here for all your custom printing needs.
Our straightforward file upload process generates a preview that helps you recognize potential resolution issues before you send your pictures through to the printer. Or, if you’re looking to salvage or improve the quality of images for which you do not have the originals, our team of specialists can help you achieve the best possible result.