You may have heard the term 'image resolution' mentioned a few times by any printers you have spoken to, but there is a good chance you won't really have any idea what we are talking about.
To keep things simple, it's basically how much your image is going to look like it is made from Lego when it is printed.
Whilst a piece of artwork may look okay on your computer screen, when it is printed it may look much different if the resolution is below 300dpi. This is because your computer will display images at 72-100dpi (dots per inch) whilst the printed image will be seen at 300dpi.
Take the example below (you may need to view on a computer to view this properly rather than from a mobile or help widget). The image of the text on the left-hand side is saved at 300dpi and the text on the right is saved at 72dpi. Both images are then scaled to the same height and width. As you can see, the left-hand image is much crisper and clearer whilst the image on the right is pixelated and blocky.
|Image saved at 300dpi||Image saved at 72dpi|
The image of the sunset above has been saved in the same way. The image on the left is saved at 300dpi and the image on the right at 72dpi. You'll notice the edges of the sun and mountains are a lot crisper in the 300dpi image on the left.
How do I check the resolution of my artwork?
Like other printers, we could give you a load of mathematical equations to figure out the resolution of your images, but we know you don't really have time to sit around with a calculator. Instead, we suggest one of the following:
- Zoom into your artwork so it is at about 400%. - This will give you a much better idea of how the pixels will appear when printed. It's not a perfect science but you'll get a pretty good idea of if there are going to be any huge problems. Be sure to check all the images in your document as some may be a lower resolution than others.
- Let us check it for you. - Here at StressFreePrint we check all artwork before it goes to print. If we think there are any resolution issues at all we will let you know, right down to telling you the images that are affected in a piece of artwork. Not ready to make a purchase? Don't worry. We can still check your artwork and let you know of any issues.
How can I fix an issue with resolution?
If your whole document is low-resolution this could be down to how you have set it up or saved it. For instance, if you design your document at A6 but are looking to print at A3 you are likely to see problems with the resolution. Alternatively, you may have saved it as a low-resolution PDF or Jpeg.
Sometimes it may just be a single image or logo within your artwork that is low resolution. In these instances changing the image may be your best option or reducing its size on your artwork.
To fix resolution issues try one of the following.
- Create your artwork at the correct size - Unless you are printing large format where you can afford a slight loss of resolution (around 160dpi is usually okay for large format), you should always try to create your document at the size you intend to print. This will ensure you'll have the best resolution that your images support when it goes to print. Please be aware that you cannot increase the resolution of an image by making it bigger. An image created at A5 will lose resolution if scaled to A4.
- Save your document as a high-resolution PDF - Some programs, such as Adobe InDesign, allow you to save your document in various formats. For best results, you should always use a high-resolution format such as 'print-ready PDF' which will avoid images being scaled down to reduce filesize. It may mean you sometimes end up with a 40mb+ PDF but don't worry - we can accept large files via our WeTransfer page.
- Replace any low-resolution images - If only a couple of images are low resolution and the rest of the document is okay, you can usually fix your issue quite quickly by replacing the images or logos with higher resolution ones. If you don't think you have any at hand take a look at the many free stock image sites on the web. You may find something that can help.
- Print the document anyway - We would not advise printing a document less than 300dpi as the quality will be affected, but if you think the pixelation isn't going to affect things much you are welcome to just go to print.
- Opt for the StressFreePrint design service - Whilst we can't fix resolution issues, we CAN offer a design service to produce a document for you based on your needs.
As you can see, resolution can be quite a complected issue to get your head around. However, we will do our very best to help you get a product you will be happy with and are always on hand to answer any questions you may have.