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Image Resolution Explained and Simplified

I've recently spoken with a few customers that wanted image resolution explained. When dealing with images, you hear the term resolution' quite a bit. Image resolution is a term that designers and photographers understand, but it's not a common term. So it's alright if you don't know exactly what image resolution is referring to. In this article, we're going to attempt to shed some light on what exactly image resolution is.

Image resolution explained.

The Types of Images

From here on out, the image above will be referred to as 'sassy chicken.' In order to explain resolution, I will have to go back to the very fabric of what an image is. When talking about resolution, we're primarily dealing with something called raster images, as opposed to vector images. There are raster and vector images. Vector images use mathematical equations to fill in color and lines. So if you scale them, they don't get pixilated like raster images. I know what you're thinking "why aren't all images vector images?" Vector images don't really work like that. It's not typically something you would see in a photograph. It's more suited for art. Company logos are usually stored as vector images. Web pages however usually have raster images.

Photographs and other images are raster images. They are images composed of squares filled with color. If you look at the sassy chicken image on the left, you'll see an example of pixels. You can also experiment with this yourself by opening an image on your computer and zooming in. You'll start to see squares, those squares are pixels. All a pixel is, is a square filled with color. When you put lots of them together, they form an image.


You may have heard the term PPI thrown around. PPI stands for Pixels Per Inch. This is how many pixels are packed into 1 inch of that image. Take a look at sassy chicken again. The sassy chicken on the right has a higher PPI than the sassy chicken on the left. That's why you can see the sassy chicken on the right clearer.  More pixels gives you more clarity in an image. A general rule of thumb for printing is that you want your image to be 300 PPI. 300 PPI isn't a fix all though and this is where resolution comes into play.


After all of that, we can finally get to the resolution of an image. Resolution is the number of pixels along the width and height of an image. So an image that is 1200 X 1200 resolution is 1200 pixels wide and 1200 pixels in height. If we multiply those two numbers, we get the total number of pixels in the image - 1200 x 1200 = 1,440,000 pixels. So a 1200 x 1200 resolution image is made up of over 1.4 million pixels. This gives you a whole new appreciation of the world of images.

The Math

So there's a simple equation here that can determine if your artwork is ideal for a specific size. Let's say you want a 12X12 print. Since we know that 300 ppi is the ideal size for a printable image we can multiply 12x300 for the width and 12x300 for the height. We will get 3600 x 3600. Ideally, if you want a 12X12 print your image should be that resolution.

There's a Catch

A lot of banners are much bigger than the sizes used for the examples here. With image scaling technology, smaller images can be used in bigger applications. So don't fret if your image doesn't match the specific resolution needed for that calculation, you don't need an image this big. At Banner 4 Sale we will always ensure that your banner is of the highest quality and we will send you a proof.






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