Understanding Resolution – Digital Printing from Digital Photos

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Feb 10, 2012 @ 03:48 PM

In our previous blog post, we started our New Year’s Resolution of “Understanding Resolution” (if you missed it, just click the link to check it out.)  This time, we’re helping you put this information to good use by helping you get better images from the very beginning, starting with your Digital Camera.  Maybe you just got a new one over the Holiday Season, or perhaps you’ve had one for a while now.  It’s never too late to review your settings and make sure that your getting the best your camera can offer.

How MEGA are YOUR pixels?

Guess what?  Megapixels don’t matter!  That’s right… I said it, and I’ll stand behind it.  Of course, we need to really know what a “megapixel” is.  “Mega” stands for million, as in 1 million “bytes” is 1 “megabyte.”  So 1 million “pixels” is 1 “megapixel.”  The digital cameras of the late 80’s / early 90’s started out as 640 pixels X 480 pixels (i.e. 640 x 480 = 307,200 pixels). 

So now, let's consider your amazingly impressive HDTV.  Maybe you have a 38" screen or even a 50" screen.  The size of the screen doesn't matter, because it simply means larger pixels.  Even at the highest 1080p, you're looking at 1920 pixels wide, by 1080 pixels high. So you're amazing HDTV, which is sharp, clear, and crisp in your living room, is only supporting an image that's... wait for it... (1920 x 1080 = 2,073,600) 2 megapixels! 

Camera manufacturers know that any print larger than 12" x 18" is going to be viewed at some distance.  It's generally understood that anything over 3 megapixels is adequate at that size, so when we start talking about 5 megapixel, 6 megapixel, 8... and so on; it's more about the hype and sounding impressive.  At the end of the day, it's really all about the quality of the image.    I GREAT photo taken with a 3MP camera will always outshine a blurry, unbalanced, unfocused photo taken with a 12MP camera.  For another point of view on this check out this blog by David Poque of the NY Times.

Get the best resolution from your camera:

If you have not yet taken the digital image, adjust your camera to the highest quality setting.

Taking the photo on the highest setting will maximize both the quality of the image, as well as the range of sizes at which you will be able to use it in printing projects. If possible, save your image as a lossless TIF or EPS file before doing any editing to best preserve color and sharpness.

Determine the resolution and maximum usable dimensions for any images you want to use in your project. Images should have resolution of 300 dpi at their final size in the file; 400 dpi if the image includes text. Resolution and image size are inversely proportional to each other. In other words, enlarging an image will decrease the resolution and shrinking an image will increase the resolution.

2 x 2" image @ 300 dpi = GOOD

...enlarged to 4 x 4" = 150 dpi = BAD

17 x 13" image @ 72 dpi = BAD

...reduced to 4 x 3" = 300 dpi = GOOD

To determine resolution from pixel dimensions, divide pixel width and pixel height by 300. This will give you the maximum size that you will be able to use your image, while maintaining a quality resolution of 300 dpi. Divide by 400 for images that include text.

Example:

  • Start with 1200 pixels x 1600 pixels as the dimensions for an image with no text.
  • Divide your dimensions (1200 ÷ 300 = 4 and 1600 ÷ 300 = 5.33). If the image included text, then you would divide by 400 instead.
  • So, the maximum usable dimensions for the image are 4" x 5.33". It will print crisp & clear at this size or smaller.

Digital cameras primarily use the RGB color space. To print on a four-color printing press, all RGB images need to be converted to CMYK.  When we receive RGB images, we do a standard-value conversion to CMYK, which may not be perfectly to your liking. You're welcome to convert it yourself to control the color in ways that matter more to you.  For a better understanding of the differences between RGB and CMYK images, check out More About Color: RGB-vs-CMYK

 

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, business solutions, digital printing, Graphic Design Durham, Digital camera, cross-media marketing, Photohop

Your Printing New Year’s Resolution... Is To Understand Resolution!

Posted by Universal Printing on Tue, Jan 03, 2012 @ 04:16 PM

DPI… PPI... dots per inch... points per inch... pixels per inch... No matter how you say it, it all comes down to one simple thing: RESOLUTION. In order to get the BEST print quality from your images, you need to know it, understand it, and never take it for granted.

First off, we need to know what resolution means. Resolution is how many dots/pixels fit into one inch. The term “dots per inch” (dpi) and “pixels per inch” (ppi) are often used interchangeably. The fewer dots or pixels per inch, the larger each one is, so low resolution images will look jaggy and chucky.  Images used for the web will be LOW RESOLUTION (referred to as “Low Res”) at about 72 – 95ppi. For digital or offset printing, we suggest that you use images between 300 – 400dpi. The higher the resolution, the sharper and crisper your printed image will be. Who wouldn't want that?

High Resolution vs Low Resolution

When dealing with images for print, here are a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Resolution and image size are directly related to each other. Enlarge an image, the resolution decreases; reduce an image, and the resolution increases. For example: a 2 x 2" image at 300 dpi (awesome) enlarged to 4 x 4" has a new resolution of 150 dpi (lame). To help you figure your enlargement/reduction resolution, check out our Resolution Calculator.
  2. Photos should be at least 300dpi at final production size in the layout.
  3. Graphics that include text should be at least 400dpi final output size (so the edges of the type remain clear.)
  4. You can always be taken away, but it can NEVER be added. True, you can shrink your image, but to get HIGH RESOLUTION images, the resolution needs to be set during the initial creation of that image. So if you’re scanning, shooting with a digital camera, or creating from scratch, what you start with is the most you’ll get.
  5. What you see is NOT what you’ll always get! Computer monitors generally have a display setting of 72 dpi. This is WAY lower than the 300-400 dpi we expect for print production. If we ever tell you that some of your images are low resolution, they may not look bad on your monitor but will likely print blurry or jagged.

Things to avoid:

Web images are predominately low resolution (72-96 dpi) GIF or JPEG files. This resolution is great for quick transmission over the internet, but not for printing. They will just look BAD, so don't do it.  Just don't!

“Upsampling” is when a low resolution image is saved to a higher resolution with no changes in dimensions. This simply adds more dots per inch (dpi), but creates blurry images, ugly blocks of color, and high contrast in images. The only way resolution can be improved is by decreasing the image size, or by recapturing the image at a higher quality setting. Again, don't do it.  It won't fool ANYONE!

Now you are starting to understand what "resolution" is, and you're eager to learn more!  Maybe you're curious on how to put this new found knowledge to use.  Maybe you got a really cool digital camera or snazzy smart phone for Christmas, and are ready to take amazing pictures and use them for your design projects.  Come back NEXT week to see how to set your devices to get the best resolution from your digital photos!

 

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, setting up your files, Adobe Photoshop, Photos, Digital camera

Easter Photos + Wide Format = Special Memories for a Lifetime

Posted by Universal Printing on Thu, Apr 21, 2011 @ 03:45 PM

Nothing says SPRING quite the same way that the Easter holiday does.  The weather is getting warmer, the grass is getting greener, and flowers and trees begin to bloom with vivid colors.  It’s a time for reflection and renewal, breaking out of the “cabin-fever” of a cold and grey winter.  For many people, it’s a time to get together with friends and family. Some dress up in their Easter finest, with brightly colored Easter hats, Easter dresses, Easter shirts and ties.

It’s inevitable… wherever you have warmer weather, sunny skies, and friends and family together, SOMEONE is usually taking photos.  Digital cameras, which were once a high-tech luxury, are relatively common today.  Most cellphones offer built-in digital cameras that rival the standard digital cameras of just a year ago.  If social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, and Tumblr are any indication, people are capturing moments more than ever.

Need ideas for which memories to capture?

Enjoy your Little Picasso or Van GoghMaking Easter crafts, like painted or dyed eggs or colorful Easter baskets, are a great what to spend quality family time.  Sometimes even prepping for this is almost as much fun as the activity itself.  It’s not every day that your kids are eagerly crowded around the table with paintbrushes and aprons so take advantage by grabbing your camera and start clicking away. Imagine the scene of wild and happy children smiling and laughing in their paint covered aprons while holding up their colorful Easter creations!

Bunnies and Puppies and Chicks, Oh My! There are only a few days out of the year that you can get away with dressing your child like a cute and cuddly animal. Enjoy this chance to see your kids dressed up and take pictures of them holding bunnies, puppies or baby chicks! Or even dress your babies or small children as bunnies and grab your camera!

To the Egg Hunt Imagine the scene of your kids and others running around lush green grass surrounded by newly blooming flowers, while toting decorated baskets filled with brightly painted eggs.  There is nothing more precious than the looks of concentration or pure joy a child’s face while he or she looks for and ultimately finds these fun little Easter treasures.   All the while, you should be busy snapping away with your digital camera!

Family ties are ties that bindAs typical families get spread further apart, holidays are the few times a year when the whole family might get together. Take advantage of these opportunities to capture your family and you’ll be amazed at how fast the children grow and how special it is when you span generations!

Universal Printing Wide Format | Easter Poster Ideas

So I have AWESOME pictures… Now what?

Now that you have captured great moments and wonderful memories, your snapshots are PERFECT for Wide Format.  Instead of just posting to an online album, or sticking them into a scrapbook or photo album, try THESE creative ideas to display them as colorful art in your home.

  • Think BIG and instead of a simple 4"x 6" picture, make a 24"x36" poster suitable for mounting or framing.

  • Turn your snapshot into art by having it printed on canvas material.  Photoshop effects can even give it a hand-painted or chalk-pastel look. 

  • Consider using a special backlit material to create an even more unique display piece for your home. There are several affordable backlit frames available online, or you can even DIY.

  • Cover all or part of a wall using a removable wall cling.  It’s a great way to change make family memories larger than life, and you can change it out seasonally.

If you would like to discuss any of these or other options, you’re always welcome to contact any member of our helpful Sales or Customer Service Representatives or a member of our award-winning Graphic Design team. They are always more than happy to help you find creative ways to use Wide Format Printing.

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: tips and tricks, commercial printing, digital printing, Photos, Digital camera, poster printing, wide format printing, Posters