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 Diane Cipollo BellaOnline's Digital Art and Design Editor

Image Resolution

When you start a new image in a graphics program, you are asked to choose a resolution for your image. The resolution is the number of pixels (colored dots) that make up one inch. The number of pixels per inch (ppi) that you will use depends on the type of project you are working on. Digital images are viewed on computers and mobile devices. Print images will be part of print products such as a book, magazine or newspaper.

Basically digital images are viewed at a resolution of 72. This seems easy enough. However it is a little different when you are creating images that you will print. Opinions vary, but most people agree that a good resolution for print images is 150 to 300 ppi. So how does this higher resolution effect the image?

 Example

Take a look at the example. These two images look the same on your computer screen. Both of these images have the same width (360 pixels) and height (288 pixels). But the image on the left has a resolution of 72 ppi and the image on the right has a resolution of 300 ppi. Although they appear to be identical they will look very different in the finished project.

To see the difference between the two resolutions, we could print both images on a printer. The result would be very different for each resolution. The image on the left will be 5 inches wide and 4 inches high when printed. The image on the right will only be 1.2 inches wide and .96 inches high when printed. Why?

For the image on the left, which has a resolution of 72 pixels per inch, the printer will spread those 72 pixels across one inch of paper. When we divide 72 pixels into the total width in pixels which is 360 pixels, we get 5 inches. And this image is indeed 5 inches wide on the paper.

However, the resolution of 300 for the image on the right will tell the printer to compress 300 pixels into one inch of paper. When we divide 300 into the total pixels of 360, we get only 1.2 inches. That results in the printer compressing the image much smaller than the first image.

As you can see the resolution that you use will determine the size of your image.

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