Wondering if your digital photo or artwork will print well at a large size? Here are some bits of info and tips to help you figure it out once and for all. If you don’t want to wade through the details, you can skip right to the brass tacks section and get the super fast, cliff notes version.
A Quick 101
Image size is the size of your digital file, measured in small dots. All images from digital cameras or scanners are made up of these dots, which are called pixels. The resolution of your photo is directly impacted by the pixel count. The more pixels in the file, the higher the resolution and the greater the detail. Images with a low resolution have fewer pixels to build up the image, and less pixels means less detail. The photos below are a great example of both a high resolution image (left) and the same image at a low resolution (right).
You have probably heard the term DPI and are wondering how it’s connected to resolution. DPI refers to the number of dots (pixels) per inch. So, DPI is simply a way of applying a physical measurement (one inch) to an image’s resolution. For example, a 1200x1800 pixel image, when sized to fit a 4x6 Plywerk, has a DPI of 300 (you can figure this out by dividing the pixel dimensions by the size....1200/4 = 300 and 1800/6 = 300).
If you take that same 1200x1800 pixel image up to a 6x9 the DPI drops to 200. Make sense?
Printers typically print at 300 DPI, which is what we recommend for the best quality. That does not mean something at 200 DPI or even 70 DPI won’t end up looking great. In fact, any time you are working with an image that has a resolution at or above 2000x3000 pixels, you can pretty much go as big as you want even though the DPI is technically lower than 300. Explaining why this is the case is well beyond the basics of this post, just know that if you have an image at or above 2000x3000 pixels you have the green light to order any size Plywerk.
The final basic term to know is Mega Pixel or MP as you often see it. You most commonly see this term on camera specs and within your camera settings on your devices. The MP of your camera/device is ultimately what determines the native or unaltered resolution of your images. We don’t want to go into too much detail about MP but you should know these things:
You can determine MP by multiplying your pixel dimensions. Example 2000x3000 = 6MP
Pretty much any camera made within the last 5 years shoots at or above 6MP
Most phones and devices made within the past 2 years or so shoot at or above 6MP. iPhone 4s and iPhone 5 shoot at 8MP!
The Brass Tacks
Still with me? It’s all a bit tedious but at this point you’re much closer to grasping all this, which means you’re going to be a big hit at parties and bat mitzvahs. Here are the basic points to keep in mind:
Your image resolution determines how big you should go when printing. You can find the resolution of an image by: Mac -> control click, get info | PC -> right click, properties, summary tab, advanced
If your image is at or above 2000x3000 pixels you have to green light to order any size Plywerk
Make sure that you are shooting with proper exposure and in good lighting to ensure good image quality. Low light can produce images that look fuzzy or grainy.
Be sure you are using the highest resolution image you have. Email, social networks, and photo hosting platforms make it easy to lose track of the highest resolution image. Lower resolution makes sense from a sharing perspective but not from a printing perspective. The highest resolution image is always the original image as taken from the camera on which it was shot.
Our integration with Facebook and Instagram lets us grab the highest resolution image available. Keep in mind that if you uploaded a low res image to FB, it will be low res when it gets piped into your Plywerk.com cart.
If all of this is too much to swallow, don’t fret. We always double check the images that come through our website to make sure they will look great when printed. If it’s questionable, we’ll let you know. Plus you can always email us your image at email@example.com for a quick double check before you order.