DPI Explained: Everything You Need to Know About Print Resolution

When it comes to printing your images and that elusive DPI (dots per inch) number, the ultimate question is: “how big is big enough?” Whether you’re exporting for billboards, magazines, or fine art prints, this video explains what DPI you should be using and why.

This incredibly helpful tutorial was put together by Thomas Kuoh, who gets these kinds of questions all the time. So he created this video to explain once and for all what DPI is, and which settings you should use for the different types of prints you may be requested to deliver.

The fact is, you shouldn’t and don’t want to print everything at 300dpi. Even a 42MP photo, something that can reliably be blown way up, only spits out a 26-inch x 17-inch print at 300dpi. This is why standard print resolutions rarely get that high. As Kuoh point out, billboards are usually printed at just 15dpi, a bus wrap around 72 or 100dpi, and glossy magazine spreads at 150dpi. Even fine art prints don’t usually exceed 240dpi.

It all comes down to distance. The further away you sit from your screen or a physical print, the lower the print resolution needs to be. So don’t be afraid to take that 42MP photo and blow it up to create a 5 x 8-foot print, you totally can. Just don’t expect some crazy print resolution.

(via ISO 1200)

Image credits: Feature image CMYK by Max Wheeler.