What resolution should I use for large scale prints?

To achieve professional looking graphics, it’s vital to so set the correct artwork resolution when designing for large scale printing. Working at 300dpi is recommended for prints that are A3 or below but when working on large graphics, this will result in huge file sizes,  slowing down your computer.

However, when the artwork resolution is too low, the print will look blurred and pixilated. So what do you do when you need to design artwork for large scale prints? Here are a few things you should know before designing for large scale prints that will help you design your graphics to look as sharp as possible.

Use vectors for text, logos and shapes

Try to design as much as possible using a vector-based design program such as Adobe Illustrator. Vector images are created by mathematical expressions not pixels so they scale to any size. When sent to us by PDF, the finished print will only be limited by the output of the printer at 1200dpi.

Set up the artwork document at quarter size

All graphic design programs have a maximum page size. Adobe InDesign is 5486mm (wide) and Adobe Illustrator’s is slightly larger at 5739mm. What do you do when you want to design for even bigger graphics? We recommend that all large format artwork is created at quarter size of the final print size. For example, a 2000mm x 1000mm graphic print size would be divided by four and setup at 500mm x 250mm. The artwork is then scaled to the final graphic size just before print. It would be worth making a note of this in the file name.

What resolution should my images be?

The viewing distance of the finished print determines the required resolution for images. 300dpi is recommended for close viewing, but for large format print, on an exhibition stand for example, the viewing distance is usually over 1m. At Graphic Mill we find 300dpi at quarter size is the perfect balance between file size and image quality.

How should I create my artwork?

Produce raster image elements in Photoshop at quarter size, 300dpi resolution and output as PSD or TIFF.

Create complex vector elements in Illustrator and save as EPS or PDF

Compose the final artwork in InDesign at quarter size, linking raster and vector files and adding text and simple vector elements.

Output the finished artwork as PDF ensuring raster elements are exported at their native resolution, not down sampled.

Now you know how to use the correct artwork resolution for large scale prints, you’re ready to print big graphics without worrying about fuzzy images, blurry text or pixelated logos.

Please share your tips with us in the comments!


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