seam blog


what does high-resolution mean?

April 23, 2013
Posted in design-speak decoded

Resolution is the difference between a beautiful, eye-catching image and a disappointing piece that looks bad and feels like a waste of time and money. We’re on top of it on every project, but explaining it to non-designers so we can get images we need to produce great pieces can cause confusion. Here is a simple rundown we have found to be helpful.

Digital images are comprised of squares of different colors and brightness. On screen, an image needs at least 72 dpi (dots per inch) of resolution to appear sharp to your eye. A high-resolution image on a printed page must be at least 300 dpi.

The resolution of a digital image is the amount of visual information in the file. This is different than the size of the image, but file size is greater the higher the resolution. At any size, the resolution of an image determines how sharp the image will look – unless you’re dealing with a blurry photo.

Say you want to use an image or graphic from your website in a printed publication. Unless the intended use is very small, you will need a higher-resolution version. You’ve seen a low-resolution image before: they look off from choppy or blurry noise. In some cases, the image can be upsized but this is only recommended as a last resort.

Often a high-res version can be tracked down from the original photographer, designer or stock photo website. A good rule of thumb is the file size, which will be much smaller in a web-res image (up to a few hundred kilobytes – kb) than a high-res one (several megabytes – mb) ideal for a print job.


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