One of the biggest issues we face every day at King Tut is image resolution and whether it’s high enough for print or not. So what exactly IS a high resolution image? In this article, we’ll explain what makes a high resolution image and how to tell if your image is good enough for print.
First, let’s start with what a good quality high resolution looks like, by the numbers. All this depends on what size your final document is going to be, for this example, we’re going to use an 8×10 photo. A good high resolution 8×10 picture should be at least 2400 pixels in width. If you print out a 2400 pixels in width (300 dpi) photo, you end up with a crisp image that’s roughly 8×10.
If you don’t have the high resolution version of your image, then you’ll need to contact your photographer or designer and ask them to send you the “high resolution version of the image for print.” They’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. Hint: If you got your image online from a website like Facebook or Instagram, the image will be low resolution.
There are two ways to see if your image is high resolution or not. Let’s start with the Photoshop way. If you don’t have Photoshop, scroll down to the bottom of this article for the second way.
Here’s and example of a perfect high resolution image.
Here’s how to tell that this image is high resolution. In the Photoshop menu bar at the top left, go to Image > Image Size. The Image Size window will come up.
The number one thing we look for is the pixel width. The pixel width determines the printable size of the image. The pixel width is locked in proportion with the pixel height so if you change the numbers of the pixel width, the pixel height will change as well. A picture with the pixel width of 2400 roughly equals 8×12 if you print it out at 100% on a printer.
It doesn’t have to be exact but if your image has around these kind of numbers as the example shown above, then you have a high resolution image.
Now here’s an example of a low res image. At first glance it may not look too bad until you take a closer look.
Here are the internals of a low resolution image in Photoshop. Again, go to Edit > Image Size, and that same window will come up.
In this version of the picture, you can see that the pixel width is 800. That roughly translates into a 2.5×4 image if you print it at 100%, which is fine for a small business card but for an 8×10 portrait photo it won’t look good at all.
When we zoom in closer on the details, notice how the image on the left is pixelated and not as sharp as the image on the right. The low resolution will print that way.
“What should I do if my image resolution is too low?”
The one thing you should not do is up sized the image. To up size an image means going into Photoshop and manually changing the numbers by typing a higher number in the pixel width field.
If you do that, you’ll end up with a very blurry image instead of a pixelated one as illustrated below.
Basically, what you’re doing is telling Photoshop to go into the image and fill in the empty space by guessing what information should go there.
The second way to tell if you have a high resolution image or not.
If you’re on a Mac, select the image with your mouse and at the top left on the menu bar click on File>Get Info. The keyboard shortcut for this is Command+i
This window will pop up on your computer screen.
There’s a lot of information in this window but the only thing you’re looking at is the “Dimensions” area. That will give you the pixel width and height. The first set of numbers will be the width and the second set will be the height. Again, we’re looking for: 2400 pixels in width or around those numbers.
Now that you know what a high and low resolution is, check back with us next Thursday as we talk about color in print vs what you see on your monitor.