Saturday, 22 March 2014

Whats all this about 300dpi

Firstly let me get a couple of things out of the way:

Image of Bea from the Pirate set.
There is no need for this image
to ever be printed at 300 dpi.
There isn't enough detail to warrant it.
1. Before anyone want s to point out the error I do realise that we are  really talking about PPI (Pixels per inch) but in this article which is directed towards the average crafter I'm going to stick to the common usage of DPI.

2. This article certainly isn't an in-depth look at dpi/ppi and printing and is only meant for the hobbiest crafter. I'm afraid if you are looking for a more in-depth article then you'll have to look elsewhere.

High Quality 300 dpi images.

I am seeing that phrase more an more in relation to craft downloads and craft cds. It's being used as a selling point however I have serious doubts as to whether it is as good as it seems. Everyone will know that all the images on are made at 150 dpi which is a decision we took after much research and advice. We did this mainly because the majority of our images are graphics rather than photos and few graphics have the subtle detail which requires 300 dpi, in fact you will get no more detail in a 300 dpi copy than you will a 150dpi.

A lovely multi coloured Sunset.
This image would look good at 300 dpi, ink
bleed on lower quality papers shouldn't
be too much if an issue.
Secondly there is a danger that your printed image will be worse by using 300 dpi rather than a lower one. When I first discussed this with friends they thought I was making it up BUT once they thought about it they realised they had all seen it. The problem is when we print out the designs we often aren't using quality of paper which a 300 dpi image requires. Sometimes we're printing onto white card and sometime just a white paper, neither of these can handle the quantity of ink being applied and in the case of card what were clear lines can actually bleed. In the case of paper not only can it suffer from bleed but it can also cause the paper to buckle as the ink dries.

Finally, and rather obviously, you are using twice the amount of ink to get a worse image.

Don't get me wrong, there is certainly a place for 300 dpi images but in order to get the benefit it should be a photo with lots of gradients and colour changes plus, if it has distinct detail it need to be printed onto paper which can cope with 300 dpi.

I do often print my 150 dpi images onto 260gsm glossy photo paper, especially the decoupage, I like the finish it gives. But again, as they are graphics/pictures rather than photos, there is no need for them to be 300 dpi. Printing at 300 dpi can't add a level of detail which just isn't in the original image.

Image taken on Mt Snowden
This image would be good at 300 dpi but should be
printed on high quality paper or ink bleed will be
an issue on the sharp rocks and edges etc.
Having said that I have just released a set at 300 dpi, mainly because they are based on photos and therefore should be good at 300 dpi, plus, they are all colour blends without any sharp lines, so using them on card or lower quality paper shouldn't be a huge issue.

My advice to crafters:

1. Think whether an image needs to be printed at 300 dpi. Is it a photo? Does it have lots of subtle  light, shading, colour?.
2. Is the paper or card you are printing it on going to make a 300 dpi image look better or worse.
3. If it isn't a photo, and you know what you are doing, think about decreasing its DPI. It will save you ink and give you a better finish on lower quality cards and paper.

Obviously there are exceptions to the photo rule. Many oil and watercolour painting etc can have very subtle colours which could benefit from being at 300 dpi and on nice paper but that is a long way from many cartoonish style craft designs.