Printing Basics – Avoiding pixelated and blurry images.

There’s nothing more frustrating than finding the “right” image for your printed piece, only to find it prints pixelated or blurry! Using our guide below, we’ll show you how to select and size your images so that you won’t have to be disappointed!

Resolution and Printing

Let’s start with the basics! Resolution (when it comes to printing) is measured in something called Dots Per Inch (DPI). This is PURELY a printing term. So let’s say you’re printing a poster with huge text – a period at the end of a sentence that is 1″x1″ would have 300 dots in it. Photos, strictly speaking, do NOT have a DPI. “Hold on,” – you might exclaim – “my EXIF data tells me that my pictures are 72DPI!”…It is purely a fictitious number! Instead, “resolution” in terms of images is calculated by the length multiplied by the height (measured in pixels).
Still with us? Good! Ok so if pictures don’t have a DPI value, how the heck do you know if they’ll print nicely at 300DPI? It’s pretty simple, really. Let’s say you have an image that is 3000px wide by 1500px high, all you need to do is divide each value by 300 to get how many inches the image will print at without degradation of quality. SO, a 3000px by 1500px image will print at 10″x5″ full size. Now you might be beginning to understand why the 700×500 image you found on Google Images looks less than ideal as the main artwork for a poster. Best way to avoid all this? Create your document at 300DPI, and bring your images in. If they’re too small or become pixelated when you resize them, it’s time to find new image.

Speaking of Google Images…

Brain hurting yet? Ours too – let’s move on to something that doesn’t involve math. Many people use Google Images as their go to search engine for pictures, and with Google indexing almost every publicly accessible website on the planet, there’s a ton of them. Many people aren’t aware, however, that just because an image shows up in your Google Search, doesn’t mean you can use it for your print! In fact there are several stories on the web (just search “sued for using Google Images”) of people getting sued for using a single image that wasn’t licensed for re-use, even if the defendant didn’t profit from using the image at all! So how do you find images suitable for reuse? We have put together a list of websites for you that only index images that are free to reuse, listed below:

And not free but WAY cheaper than most stock image websites:

All of the above websites will have high-resolution, high-quality images that you can use in your printed materials! We want to point out that Ink Rebels assumes that our customers own the copyright or are licensed to print any images submitted for printing – it is your responsibility to ensure that you have permission to print an image!

To Recap

  1. We print at a resolution of 300DPI
  2. Images don’t have a DPI value!
  3. Create a 300DPI document in Photoshop/InDesign
  4. Import the image you want to use and judge your image choice from there – if it looks blurry or pixelated on-screen when you save your final PDF, chances are it will print that way too!