How Does Image Resolution Affect Print Quality?

The relationship between image resolution and print quality is somewhat temperamental. Picture this, a spectacular front cover looking great on your computer screen, you get the nod of approval from the rest of the team and you’re pretty chuffed with yourself.  

But when it came to printing, the images came out pixelated or blurred. What happened there? The culprit is image resolution and it can affect your overall print quality drastically. We’ve investigated the offender below. 

The Acronyms to Know

First, there’s some jargon to get out the way. These are essential measurements that refer to the composition of an image and you’ll definitely come across them when handling your images for print. 

  • PPI: Pixels per inch. This term is mostly used for monitors and video production. A pixel is a dot on a video screen. The professional standard, though, is 300 pixels/inch. 
  • DPI: Dots per inch. Generally used in printing, this refers to the dots of ink on one line across one inch. When you come to print, the pixels are translated into dots. 
  • LPI: Lines per inch. This is another print term mostly used for halftones and is the measurement of how close together the lines are in the grid.

When cropping and sizing an image for printing, you’ll need to know what PPI the image should be - your printer manual or the printing service should be able to tell you this. Typically, screens will only view documents at 72dpi and you’ll find all commercial printers print at 300dpi.

What Is Image Resolution? 

why is image resolution so important for printing high quality

When we talk about image resolution, we’re talking about pixel resolution. When you think of it this way, it’s a little easier: a single pixel represents a colour and an image is made up of millions of pixels. Millions of pixels taken together make up that image that’s going to wow anybody who picks up your brochure, leaflet or printed material you chose. 

Image resolution has everything to do with printing your image, not how your images or photos appear on your computer screen. More megapixels means a higher photo resolution for printing. It holds more information.

Photo resolution relates to the images’ print size. It also refers to the amount of detail the photograph or image has when viewed on a computer monitor. 

A high-quality photograph needs to tick many boxes to claim that title. Good lighting, correct exposure, professional lens - they all assist in creating a clear, well-focused image at the best resolution. 

Image resolution is only one half of image quality. To understand the other half, you’ll need to clue yourself up on image compression. JPEG is the most popular form of image compression. Without getting too technical, image compression is a process used to dramatically reduce file size, while providing a result that looks similar to the original image. 

We can’t all be professional photographers, so it’s understandable if your knowledge in this area is limited. Although it’s great to get to grips with, it may be best to leave this to the professionals until you’re confident enough. Printing your images at a high resolution on the wrong paper may cause inks to bleed, resulting in a blurry effect that won’t showcase your brand the way you intended.

Luckily many print providers are very accommodating, offering you a print proof and advice to ensure your materials make an impact. 

Tips for Print Quality Success

Here are five top tips to ensure your print looks exactly how you want it to. 

  1. For the highest quality images perfect for print, make sure you take excellent photographs. Don’t neglect the benefits of capturing images in RAW. This will help your images more than having the latest 30+ megapixel camera would. 
  2. Lighting might not be considered when you talk about image quality, but it’s just as important as your trusty DSLR.
  3. If you’re not a whizz behind the lens, it might be more efficient to opt for a stock image instead. Many sites offer high-quality imagery free, take a look at Pexels, Unsplash and Pixabay before investing in expensive equipment. 
  4. Images for newspapers can get away with being at a lower resolution of 200 dpi. This is because the press doesn’t produce as many dots per inch and the paper is lower quality. 
  5. To quickly check image resolution in Adobe Photoshop, open your image in the program, then click Image > Image Size and view the resolution section. If the resolution is already set at 300ppi, your artwork is print-ready.

High-quality image resolution is just one consideration during the printing process. Neglect it and it could result in a costly rerun that you weren’t prepared for. Although print is a vast and wondrous medium to delve into for your business, there’s some advice we can give you that’ll help you navigate it.

Everything You Need to Know About High-Quality Printing for Your Business

Nailing image resolution for your printed materials is just one step towards surpassing competitors and impressing consumers. There’s so much more to learn and explore, with printing materials more relevant than ever. That's why we created our Business Printing Guide.

It highlights the printing process and its importance, along with printing techniques you can utilise for your print campaigns. Learn about how print can be effective for your business in today’s digital world by taking a look at the guide below.

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Modern technology has made these kinds of items increasingly cheaper to produce and more visually appealing. They’re a great way of lowering your business’ environmental impact - but how exactly do you produce the best kind of print using these methods?

Our checklist will give you the best advice for creating an impactful sustainable print solution.