Showcasing your images in large-scale format can be a surefire way to grab the attention of passersby. But in order to successfully execute large format printing and end up with an image that’s stunning, clear and crisp with all of the right color combinations and details, there are some things to consider. When it comes to manipulating regular images into large-scale, it takes a little more know-how than simply blowing up the size of the image and hitting “print.” If you’re considering large format printing for your next project, this article will help guide you through everything you need to know.

Determine the Right Size and Resolution

Some of the first things to consider when planning your large format printing project are size and resolution. A professional printer will recommend specifications based on where and how your image will be displayed; this will help you find the appropriate size for your venue without losing the visual clarity of the image.  

The resolution of your image is measured in PPI, or pixels per inch. As a good rule of thumb, the higher the PPI, the sharper your image will look in large format. Your printer can also help you determine what PPI would be the most effective. Typically a PPI of 300 is the standard benchmark for a large-scale, high resolution image.

Account for the Image’s Viewing Distance

What many people don’t consider when planning a large-scale image is the viewing distance. People will view the image from different distances; this is an important factor to consider. When the viewing distance is greater, a larger image size may be necessary to get the best results.

Calculating the right image PPI in relation to the viewing distance can be challenging, but the assistance of a professional printer can help you make sure the visual integrity is preserved during the printing process.

Decide on Your Image File Type

There are a few different image file types to choose from. Although your printer will probably have a preference for which format they prefer to receive images in, it can be helpful to know the different file types and what the differences are between them.

  • JPEG uses a lossy compression process to shrink an image’s file size. Most image needs require a high resolution and large size JPEG file. 
  • TIFF, or tagged image file format, is typically used when image quality is crucial and the size is not a concern. Many professional photographers prefer this type of file because most TIFF files can be edited and resaved multiple times without losing any image quality, which isn’t always the case with JPEG. As file size is important with large format printing, this may not be the best option. 
  • PNG/GIF files are typically avoided for large format printing since they more effective for digital use.

For more commercial printing tips, read this article on printing lead times.

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