An Artist’s Survival Guide To Understanding Resolution

So you have your mission set, you want to produce your work, get it printed and make some money. Perhaps you want to show your new archival prints in an exhibition or sell them on your own site, it’s all going really well, you feel pretty plussed about your work and then you encounter resolution issues and start to feel unhinged.

Can it really be so hard to understand? This really makes no sense to me? I am losing my mind! I hate this! I seriously do not get this! I need help.

If any, or all of the above statements apply to you, don’t worry, the reason we are writing tjs is because we have encountered so many people tearing their hair out trying to understand how to understand resolution.Artists old and new to reproducing work are desperate to feel a grasp of what resolution actually means and how they can apply their knowledge of resolution and dots per image(DPI) to their work when saving art files and sending them out to print publishers like ourselves.

It can seem simple but then so can making the perfect boiled egg, it can be an absolute headache and we are here to lay it all down for you in an easy going, easily digestible Pineapple Gallery guide to understanding resolution.

You may as well grab a drink because this may take a little while and you may have to read it a couple of times, you may as well make that drink alcoholic because quite frankly, why not.

After you are done reading through this a few times we sincerely hope that any stress you have felt when thinking about resolution swiftly exits your body and you can once again get excited about reproducing your work with a clear understanding of how to approach a conversation about DPI and how to save your work properly for print.


resolution info
printed hi resolution image

What is resolution?


To start with we are going to change the word ART FILE to the word BALLOON.

Pretty much everyone feels comfortable knowing how to blow up a balloon so that is the analogy we are making. 

The size of your deflated balloon directly impacts on how big you can blow it up. Simple right? 

Resolution/DPI is similar to the rubber skin of a new balloon.

The balloon skin has a maximum it can be blown up to. When printing we use DPI/ dots per inch or pixels per inch to understand how big our file can go.

You need a good balloon to start with, the larger your balloon, the bigger you can blow it up.

How does increasing the dimensions affect resolution?

You had a file which was 300dpi and 15cm / 15cm 

You want your image to be bigger at 30cm /30cm.

Because you want to double the size of your image you will need to start with double the amount of pixels.

You would really need to start with an image that is 600dpi at 15cm/15cm in order to get to 30cm/30cm and maintain image quality when printed. 

Let’s go back to the balloon analogy.

The size of the deflated balloon you start with will impact the size it can be inflated to.

mark denton framed print

Common Mistakes 

Ok, so next off is the age old issue people have in terms of wanting to cut corners.

Classic scenario being:

I want to save my money and don’t want to pay to get my art professionally photographed or scanned and so I will try to take a photo on my i-phone, it’s just as good and looks fabulous to me.

Yes they may look good on screen but blown up as prints is another ball game, or balloon game all together. If you do this, you are most likely going to end up with a small balloon which looks good on screen but blown up to any greater size as an art print will most likely pixelate and blur.

Getting your original work scanned or photographed enables you to have a digital file of them which you can print, eternally. We offer artwork scanning up to size A2, well worth it if you are serious about getting high quality fine art archival prints made of your original work, take this route.

“I have increased the resolution to 300dpi in photoshop so it will print just fine”

Unfortunately simply increasing your original files resolution in photoshop does not allow you to print a larger quality image, you will still be stretching your image further than is possible, your balloon will be blown up larger than it should be, it will pop, your image will blur.

We include some visual references and some mathematical references as examples.

If you are still confused, maybe you are a pot noodle, call us and we will try to help you as best as we can. If you’re ready to order head to our fine art printing page. 

ART IS FOR EVERYONE ( and unfortunately so is resolution ).

ray monday art print

Frequently Asked Questions About Resolution