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Aug, 30 2019

The Ultimate Guide About DPI and PPI

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When working in the design industry, DPI and PPI might make perfect sense. However, for the designers working at a beginner’s level, understanding the two concepts may become a little complicated.

What Is DPI & What Is PPI

DPI and PPI are two critical terms that any designer working in the industry must understand. Both terms refer to the resolution and clarity of an image, but they belong to two different forms of media—that is digital and print.

DPI and PPI are frequently used interchangeably when they stand different from each other. Understanding the difference between the two and how you can apply them in your projects can empower you to produce high-quality prints or optimise digital images for the web while saving yourself valuable time. So without further ado, let’s decode the differences between PPI and DPI

The difference between DPI and PPI


PPI is the resolution of pixels on a digital image whereas DPI is the amount of in dots on a printed image. Although PPI refers mainly to the screen display of the image, it can also affect the print size of the design along with the quality of the output. DPI, on the other hand, has no business with the digital medium, and concerns only with print.

PPI resolution

What does it mean?

PPI or pixel per inch is a unit of measure used to quantify the number of pixels displayed on a screen and the concentration of pixels within the picture on display. Similarly, pixel count refers to the number of pixels present across the length and width of the image. Think of Pixels as the building blocks of a digital image. You can zoom an image on your screen only to see it break in to small coloured squares—in other words, Pixels.

Every pixel on the screen is composed of sub-pixels which are not visible to a human eye because additive colour processing blends in the shades to form a single tone which appears on the pixel level. PPL uses RGB colour model consisting of red, green and blue colours. It is also known as the additive colour model. This model of PPL does not exist in print, but only in the digital form such as televisions, computer screens and photography.

When to use PPI resolution?


PPI is used in digital images. It is most useful when preparing files meant for printing; however, DPI is used in printing the image. An image having higher PPI consists of more pixel density. The higher the PPI the better will the image be, and the heavier will be the size of the file.

The standard quality of the designing industry is 300 PPI. However, an exception can be made if necessary. For example, printing on a canvas doesn’t require higher resolution because the details can get lost because of the texture of the image. Conversely, an exception can be made when printing includes fine details to be printed on a glossy surface.

PPI doesn’t make much difference when distributed across the web as the resolution of your monitor is fixed at 72 PPI image and an image with higher resolution will appear the same on any monitor screen. Pixel dimensions, on the other hand, is something that determines the size and details of the image appearing on the screen.

How to set PPI resolution?

Programs working on Pixel-based media such as Photoshop have to set the PPI resolution before beginning with the project. A designer can easily find resolution listed with other considerations in the new window.

How to change PPI resolution?

Increasing the resolution of an image which has already been designed is relatively easy. You only have to resample the image to the resolution you require. Resampling is described as a process of changing the number of pixels present in the image, where the software will delete or create the pixels to maintain the quality of the image.

In Photoshop it can be done by navigating to “Image>Image size”. A window will open, providing you with options to change the width, height, and PPI resolution of the image. Select the “resample” checkbox and set the option to “preserve details” so Photoshop can fill up to new pixels.

You can choose to increase or decrease the PPI of the image. However, you must remember that the increased value of PPI will enable you to print the design at larger sizes, but the decreases pixel count will also decrease the value and resolution of the image.

With that said, it is best to set the PPI resolution before the creation of the image as resampling requires the software to create new pixels from scratch. Although Photoshop can create new pixels close to the original, but a computer can sometimes create unintentional results on your resampled image.

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DPI printing


What does it mean?

DPI or dot per image refers to the physical dots on a printed image. Printers do not use the pixel display rather layered dots consisting of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (CMYK) colours. For example, an image of 300 DPI consists of 90,000 separate dots of pigments in one inch. The number of dots in each image effects the details and quality of the printed image.

DPI uses a subtractive colour model or CMYK colour model to control the amount of red, green and blue reflected on a white sheet. Each dot is a part of a pattern so the eye can see a specific colour created by the arrangement. The dots are of fixed size, but the resolution of the image is affected by the number of dots present per inch.

Where to use DPI resolution?


Design to be printed uses DPI resolution. Each printer model has its own DPI resolutions based on its settings. For instance, inkjet printers can produce a resolution around 300 to 720 DPI, while laser printers can produce images from 600 to 2400 DPI.

There is no standard when it comes to dot size or shape, so higher DPI will not make much difference in printing. It all depends on the specifications of the printers, which can lead to better quality of the design. For example, a book cover or a magazine uses 150 DPI for photographic reproduction where a newspaper only uses 85 DPI. You need to consult a print shop about the specifications of the printer so you could find an appropriate DPI for your project.

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Take away

good grasp on DPI and PPI is necessary to ensure the quality resolution of the image. Understanding the two concepts can help you in producing high-quality images every time you design. Unless your focus is on print media, you need to understand the importance of PPI resolution to make the most use of high resolution images and designs. However, it is also essential to learn the basics of physical printing if it requires your business.

You must remember that even the best designs can be destroyed by the poor resolution of the image. So if you require a design which can stand by your reputation, you need to work with a professional designer.


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