Photo and Design Requirements for Your Large Format Printing Requirements

04 Aug 2014

The resolution of your image is the main thing to consider if you want to go big with your printing. If the resolution is not high enough, the quality will not be good — something that will do nothing to promote yourself or your business. A life-size image can make a spectacular advert, for example, but not if it is so pixelated or blurred that your audience members have to squint to see what it is.

Understand the Basics

Not sure what pixels are? Zoom in on an image and you will see the small squares or dots which make up the picture. Each one of these is a pixel.

A large pixelated image can sometimes make a striking spectacle, but only if it is planned in advance and is a genuine part of the design. The image must also suit pixelation. It is no use expecting prospective clients or customers to spend time trying to make out your face, your shop front or your contact details. If you do not grab their attention quickly and clearly, all your efforts will have been wasted. Magic-eye pictures may be a bit of fun, but advertising yourself or your business can be a far more serious affair.

Know Your Pixel Count

It is essential to know just how many pixels your image will need to enable it to be printed at a particular size using the printer or printing service you have chosen. This is measured in terms of the pixels per inch (PPI) or, in some cases, dots per inch (DPI).

Regular prints usually need a resolution of 300 PPI, whilst large-format examples normally require at least 600 PPI. There are also printers which demand a significantly higher PPI and some which can print images with lower values — sometimes as few as 200 PPI. By contrast, however, an image used on the web is often just 72 PPI. This demonstrates how important it is to select your image with the end product in mind; it is often not quite as simple as just taking a picture you have used elsewhere and blowing it up for print.

Think Big from the Start

A top tip is to start the design process and create your file with the resolution preset to the required level. This will eliminate the need to resize at the printing stage. If someone else is doing the printing, check what equipment they will be using and their printer’s requirements before even beginning to set out your ideas. This will prevent the frustration of realising your idea will not work and avoid a waste of time and money.