We talk about different resolutions, what they mean and what they are for.
Why resolutions matter
Typically, a picture displayed on a screen or printed on a stock is made up from small dots of colour known as PPI or DPI (pixels per inch or dots per inch). Each picture is made up of a certain number of these dots or pixels. This means that the higher the number of pixels/dots, the higher quality the picture and the larger it can be displayed/printed without distorting or blurring. If a picture is enlarged beyond its capabilities, it will be distorted and appear blurry.
When talking about files, we often refer to the resolution of the file. This can either be low, medium or high ‘res’. As you can see above, low resolution would be 72dpi. This is because 72dpi is typically used for web as it reduces file sizes and saves on loading time because a screen will only display at 72dpi (dots per inch) and as such a low resolution image is displayed to it’s maximum effect and therefore looks crisp and sharp. However if this same image was used to print on a commercial press (which prints to 300dpi), this image would distort, appear blurry and be of poor quality.
Based on the above, you will be able to see that;
Logo 1 is 72dpi (low resolution)
Logo 2 is 150dpi (medium resolution)
Both 1 and 2 would display crisp on an electronic device, but would not be viable for print use. This is because they appear blurred and unclear when used for printing purposes.
Logo 3 is 300dpi (high resolution) and doesn’t distort and would print well, however if made any larger than it’s physical size, it would become distorted. This is the minimum dpi required for hard copy printing.
Why does this matter to me?
When supplying files to designers for print, you should always try and get the highest resolution file possible (300dpi). This will prevent any disappointment in print quality when you receive the final product. Not only this, but you must ensure that the files are in CMYK format.
Above is a vector logo, meaning it is made up from a mathematical formula (meaning this is a vector shape) as opposed to dots. Because of this it will never distort regardless of zoom which makes it a completely scalable vector graphic. Where possible, we love using vector graphics to ensure the print is as crisp as possible. However, it is not possible to use a vector for photography.
These scalable graphics need to be supplied to us in either an .EPS, .AI or an .SVG. Look out for next weeks post about file types, what they mean and how you can achieve them.
So, what does DPI mean?
The term dpi refers to ‘dots per inch’. This essentially means that per inch, there are that many dots of colour. DPI is used for print content and is vital to ensuring that your designs do not print blurred. Dots per inch refers to the density of an image when it is produced physically, i.e. as a printed business card or brochure. As well as this, the more dpi an image or file has, the larger it becomes in size (both physically and digitally). This is because of the fact that it holds more data. You would not use a file that has 300dpi for online use due to the fact that this could really slow down online loading time and online formats use pixels rather than dots; this is referred to as PPI (pixels per inch). Using higher res images (300dpi) online could put people off visiting your website or viewing your visual content. Typically if content takes more than 3 seconds to load, the user will leave that page in frustration. For online use you should always use 72dpi.
Then what is PPI?
No, we don’t mean sorting out your PPI claim! Following the DPI format, PPI stands for ‘pixels per inch’ used for an electronic image (i.e. images used for a computer monitor or television display). When creating content for online/digital use, we don’t use dots we use pixels; this is where the phrase ‘pixel perfect’ comes from. Content for electronic use must be 72ppi to ensure it isn’t too large in file size but still the right size to display crisply. It can really mean the difference between a blurry photo and a clean, precise one.
Look out for part 3!
We will be continuing this three part guide next week, look out for part 3 – File types, what they mean and how to achieve them. This part will discuss what different file types are and how they can benefit you for different uses.
Start your project
Martin Hopkins is owned and run by award-winning creative minds. If you have an exciting new project, submit your brief and we will be in touch to give you a project quotation based on your requirements.