High Resolution. It’s one of those terms that you hear all the time. But do you actually know what “high resolution” is?
Usually high resolution will be the term used when you are dealing with photos or graphics for print.
High resolution will refer to the resolution needed when you are going to print. As opposed to low resolution graphics which are used for the web.
So what is high resolution?
Let’s start with resolution.
Resolution is the pixels or dots per inch that make up artwork, graphics or photos. Or your TV.
If you are using a graphic on the web 72 DPI (dots per inch – sometimes called PPI: pixels per inch) is what you would use.
A 1 inch by 1 inch photo on the web would be 72 x 72 pixels.
If you are printing, you would use graphics that are at least 300 DPI, the standard resolution for print.
A 1 inch by 1 inch photo for print would be 300 x 300 pixels.
So how does this effect me?
Let’s use your head shot for example.
If your headshot is 10 inch by 10 inch and 72 dpi it is 720 pixels by 720 pixels. If you put this photo on the internet your shiny face would be crystal clear at 10″ x 10″.
Try to print this bad boy this big and you are in for a fuzzy face.
It takes 300 pixels per inch to print one inch. Since your photo only has 720 pixels per inch it will print clear a little less 2.5 x 2.5 inches. It doesn’t have enough DPI to print larger.
Just make it bigger!
Oh if it were that easy!
If you just “make it bigger” and stretch it to be bigger that it actually is, you only make the pixels larger.
If you need a 25×25 pixel image and you just stretch a 5×5 to “make it work” you can see what happens. If you stretch the image, you not only make the pixels larger, but it also distorts the image.
Here is another example of what the same size image will print like, 72 vs 300 DPI. You can clearly see the pixelation. Not so great.
image via blog.verla.ro
A low resolution image will look pixelated when scaled up for print.
So how big does it need to be?
When it comes down to it, it needs to have enough pixels for the size you need where you are going to use it.
If you need your face to print on the cover of a magazine 9 x 12″ it needs to be:
(9 inches x 300 pixels) by (12 inches x 300 pixels ) or 2700 pixels by 3600 pixels.
What happens if I decide to rebel.
Well, this will be you, in all your glory.
The simple version, just like you need it.
This was the simple version of explaining to you what high resolution is. If you want a more detailed or complex version there are many great resource out there. Here are a few you can explore further:
Have you ever tried to just stretch a small image and “make it work?”
Do you have a better understanding of what size images you need for web and print?