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Everything you need to know about DPI

What Resolution do I need for my Images? 

Everything you need to know about DPI


What is DPI?

DPI stands for “dots per inch” and it refers to the resolution of a digital or print image. It’s important to get the right DPI so the image doesn’t look pixelated or blurry. Before working on a project, we determine what DPI you need in the final output.

What DPI do you need?

The first thing we need to determine is whether the final product is going to be digital or print and from how far away it will be viewed. Digital Images are normally 1920 by 1080 pixels because that’s the typical size of a computer screen. The resolution for a 4K TV is twice the resolution of a computer screen.

Most printed materials need to be at 300 DPI which means 300 dots in one square inch. This is higher than the resolution for something viewed on a computer screen. We take the final size and multiply each dimension by 300 to get the total number of pixels to render the whole image.  

However, large-scale printed material, like signage for a fence, doesn’t have to be at 300 DPI. It’s not worth it to produce in such a high resolution because the file would be too heavy and printers wouldn’t be able to handle it. Instead we would use 150 DPI which is significantly less resolution, but still good enough quality for the needs of our clients in these situations.

It’s also important to know how far viewers will be from the sign. For example, a road sign will not be viewed up close, and does not need very high resolution. Most digital outputs have to account for the zoom function.

What do we use for IMD projects?

We follow the industry standards of 300 DPI for printed materials and 1920 by 1080 DPI for digital PDFs. In our renderings some materials and textures are at a higher resolution than others. A chair or rug in the foreground might be a 4K or 8K resolution when the rest of the image isn’t, because it will appear closer. If we didn’t do this, there could be some texture that looks blurry when zooming in.

Virtual Reality projects built in Unreal, a gaming software, are in 4K resolution. The viewer is able to zoom in to look at any element of the design up close. Soon there will be VR headsets available with 4K resolution lenses. A recorded animation or screenshots of renderings from a VR experience built in Unreal will be automatically in 4K resolution as well. This is a great feature of the software because traditional ways of making animations usually don’t have as high of a resolution.