There are two important pieces of information to understand about any images you may wish to print from. We find most people when starting on their creative printing journey believe there is only one measurement and so understandably it can be rather confusing when we talk about both! Both the measurements are interlinked and therefore it’s essential to understand what they mean. Hopefully the below should shed some light on the basics of it all!
This is the size of your image – how many centimetres, inches or pixels your image is across.
Even digital images have a dimension.
The word pixel is a combination of pix (from “pictures”) and el (for “element”). These are the tiny little specs you see on your computer screen. If you zoom in enough on an image, you will see these small squares. The number of pixels you have in an image determines how clear an image will look when printed. Each pixel blends with those around it to create a smooth transition of colour. The more coloured pixels (dots) each point in the picture can display the more natural and crisp the image looks.
Each square inch of your image has a certain number of pixels. You may have heard the term dpi (dots per inch). The higher the dpi the clearer your image will look.
The optimum for printing is 300dpi at the dimension we wish to physically print at eg. the size of a cushion.
How should you be scanning your artwork to make sure you have a good clear image?
Let’s say we have an A4 painting and we want to print an A4 art print from it. If we scanned at 300dpi this will give us an ideal size and resolution for that A4 print ie. the dimension is A4 in size and the resolution is 300dpi. Perfect!
But what if we want to run off an A3 print from the same scanned image? Well, this would mean we were going to double the image in size from A4 to A3 resulting in all those dots/pixels being stretched out. Because we have doubled in size, our resolution has now dropped.
For this reason, we recommend thinking about what you may want to print from your image in the future at the point you first scan or photograph your art. If there is a chance you may want to print something larger than your original image, scan in a higher resolution to allow for this.
Can you increase the resolution afterwards?
In a word no. You can indeed open your image in software and change the dimensions or resolution but this will have no effect on the image look when printing.
Whilst the numbers may change, the image can’t imagine data that wasn’t there in the first place and can start to look even more fuzzy.
The rule is start with the best clarity you can and that image will serve you with a multitude of uses in the future.
Should you scan in a really high dpi such as 1200?
There is very little reason for you to need to do this.
Scanning at 600dpi is usually perfect if you may wish to blow up an image quite a lot, however, if you are likely to print the same size or smaller, 300dpi is great.
So how can you tell the dimensions and resolution of the images you have saved?
Option 1) If you use design software such as Photoshop you can go to File -> Image Size to view the image information
Option 2) In your computer files, right click on your image and go down to Properties. Select the Details Tab. This will give you the Dimensions, width and height.
Option 3) Open your image in a basic app like Microsoft Paint on your computer then go to File and Image Properties. This will display the dpi plus you can choose to view the size in Inches, Centimetres or Pixels.
Don’t panic if you have some images that aren’t 300dpi – sometimes it is possible to print with a smaller resolution but 300dpi is the optimum. If in doubt just reach out and we can advise you whether an image will work on a certain product!
- Dimension is the size of your image
- Resolution is how much detail is in your image
- You can’t improve resolution afterwards so scan at a minimum of 300dpi if you can
- You can check your file sizes through a variety of methods
- If in doubt contact us and we will be happy to help