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Avoiding Pixellation

Most images in computerised form are stored as a series of dots of colour, or pixels. If an image of this kind is enlarged, at some point the pixels will start to become visible to the naked eye, an undesirable effect aptly known as pixellation.

With some basic arithmetic it is possible to tell whether an image you want to incorporate into a printed piece will reproduce satisfactorily, or whether there is a risk of pixellation.

Generally speaking, the minimum resolution a commericially printed piece of work should be is 300dpi (dots per inch). That means ideally an image which measures one inch by one inch should be at least 300 x 300dpi.

Knowing this figure of 300dpi means you can calculate the maximum 'safe' size you can reproduce an image.

For example, a 7 MP (megapixel) camera will produce images of around 3,000 x 2,400 dpi, which translates to a maximum 'safe' size of 10 x 8 inches.

In practice, images can often be reproduced at a lower resolution, especially on exhibition graphics, banners or posters where the viewer will not be especially close to the printed piece and therefore able to spot any pixellation.

However, common sense will tell you than an image the size of a postage stamp cannot be enlarged to the size of a billboard!

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