Resolution is a huge factor when dealing with artwork and to be honest, probably one of the most misunderstood things when it comes to dealing with artwork. Here’s a little bit of a guide to understanding what’s what when it comes to dealing with images from the web.
Your screen, the one you’re looking at right now, is displaying everything at 72 dots per square inch or “DPI”. That’s standard. Your TV at home is the same. This is all well and good when dealing with something output to a screen but when it comes to something that’s going to be printed, we need a lot more dotilage. (It’s official. “Dotilage” is now a word. I used it. It’s published. We’re golden!) Ideally we want to have 300 dpi for our images.
To explain this a little better, take a look at the following pics. The left side is a close up of an image I took from this website as it is posted for your viewing pleasure. On the right is that same image at 300 dpi. The difference is pretty noticeable but why is it important? Read on young grasshoppah…
Immediately, you can see how the color is much stronger and even richer in the image on the right but the important part lies with how pixilated the image on the left is. So, we have to separate all of the colors in these images to be able to print them and when we go to do that, we really run into some problems. Take a look below to see how chopped up the low resolution 72 dpi web image is compared to the high resolution 300 dpi image on the right. More dotilage equals more better stuffs. How’s that for grammar?
Clean color seps equals clean printing equals a good final product and this all starts with proper artwork.
So, let’s say you have an image from the web and someone tells you they can blow it up for you and then you can send it off to print. Unfortunately, the same results as those shown above would be what we end up with. Think of it as a piece of paper. You can cut pieces off to make it smaller and the paper would look the same but take a small piece of paper and try to enlarge that and you’re going to end up tearing it to bits.
The computer does the same thing. Once you enlarge an image that’s small to begin with, the image starts to “tear” in essence, like the paper would. To compensate for this, the computer will try to fill in all the holes with the color information it sees from surrounding pixels, basically just guessing at what it should look like. Either way, we end up with the same pixilation. Bummer, huh?