Have you ever seen a print out where the images look blurry or jagged? Were you focusing on what the images were of, or were you focusing on how bad they appeared? An amazing photo can look awful if the quality of the image is not suitable to the medium in which it is displayed. That is where image resolution comes into play.

To understand resolution, you must first understand what it means. Resolution refers to the quality of an image and is often referred to as Pixels Per Inch (PPI) or Dots Per Inch (DPI). The ppi or dpi outline the number of pixels or dots within a square inch area of the image. The higher number of pixels/dots, the sharper the image will appear. The lower number of pixels/dots, the fuzzier or jagged the image will appear.

The ppi/dpi of an image is dependent on the resolution settings when originally created and if it has been manipulated or adjusted in anyway since. When an image is scaled up or compressed, the number of pixels/dots per inch decreases, resulting in a lower image resolution. This can also work in reverse, if an image is scaled down, the number of pixels/dots per inch increases, resulting in a higher image resolution.

High quality example Low quality example

Now what does this all mean?

It is important to know that there are two types of medium to keep in mind when discussing image resolution; print and web. The medium pertains to how the final image is to be utilized and will fall into one of these two categories. Images for web or screen require a lower resolution than images intended for print.

Print Resolution (300 dpi)

Images that will be printed should be a resolution of 300 dpi or higher at its final printed size. This means that if an image is to be scaled up larger than its original size, the dpi must be higher than 300 to ensure that it maintains proper print resolution at its final size. When an image with a resolution lower than 300 dpi is printed, it results in that blurry/jagged image we first talked about.

Web Resolution (72 dpi)

Images used on the web only require a resolution of 72 dpi to display sharply on a monitor/screen. This can be deceiving, but even if an image looks good on your computer, it doesn’t mean that it will look good when printed. Images found on the web are not typically appropriate for printing, except for special cases when the image can be scaled down small enough to increase the resolution to 300 dpi.

Being a graphic designer that works with images nearly everyday, image quality is greatly important.

Our job is to ensure every aspect of a project looks its best. This can become difficult when working with images supplied by a client or external party. We do our best to work with what we have, but every image may not be usable.

It is important to ensure you are supplying your creative team with the highest resolution images possible to ensure the best quality can be achieved. Ways to achieve this are to:


Provide the original file, direct from the camera or source that created it

Do not run images through any form of compression

Ensure your email client or transfer service does not apply any compression prior to sending

Remember the higher the image resolution, the more flexibility there will be in working with it and will result in the best quality possible.

Kaitlyn Claus

Kaitlyn Claus

Kaitlyn has always been an artist and creative thinker. She has a Bachelor of Design and loves to jump in and try new creative techniques. When not designing or crafting, she loves cooking up a new recipe.