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Submitted on
February 2, 2013


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Canvas sizes - inches and dpi and pixels

Journal Entry: Sat Feb 2, 2013, 7:29 PM

This is a sort of guide on canvas sizes, inches, dpi and pixel x pixels.

when it came to canvas sizes, I always kind of assumed that inches belonged with dpi and pixels were just pixels and that everyone knew that; but i read a whole bunch of comments on a tumblr blog where someone asked about canvas sizes, and SO MANY people were replying with things such as, "4000x4000 px at 300 dpi" or "2000x2000 px at 200dpi".

and I guess not everyone quite understands what dpi's really used for xD.

DPI = Dots per Inch. It means how many dots will be printed per inch.

DPI is actually used for printing purposes. It shows the printer how much pixels to print per inch, literally. A common printer (at home or even at a lot of printing stores) at best prints at 150dpi most of the time actually; there are some super duper great printers that can print REALLY fine that can go up to ...apparently a lot more xD; #dpi, so that's why everyone usually suggests saving your project at 300dpi; most printers are fine with 300dpi, because anything above that is a little overkilling it. There are some super-fine printers though that can print up to maybe 600dpi, but those are not really that common. alright, so apparently it's pretty common =P~ but I've never found myself needing to go above 300dpi; stuff in 150dpi works well for me too, actually >_>;;~ Unless, of course, you're doing extremely high-quality fine-art prints that can sell up to $30-$60 a piece, because really high-quality prints (that requires 600+dpi) costs a lot to print in the first place, so I won't suggest this for anime/comic conventions ^^;~

so say I have a canvas at 5400 x 3600px, it literally means that I have a canvas that can be printed on a 18 x 12 inch paper at 300 dpi. If I have a 5400 x 3600px canvas at 200dpi, that pixels of the canvas don't change, but the inches on the physical paper can change to 27x18 inches when it comes to printing it. The canvas pixels aren't going to change just because you have it at 200dpi, so putting 200dpi, 300dpi or even 800dpi, it isn't going to make a difference digital canvas-wise. If you say something like "5400 x 3600px at 300 dpi", it's the same as saying "5400 x 3600px at 18 x 12 inches.". See how they don't mix? :)

Either put down how big it is in pixels (because you don't REALLY need the 300dpi if you're not printing it out), or if you have an intention of printing it out, do it in inches (or cm, if that's what you're used to) with a dpi attached.

Even photoshop makes it clear - The pixels are in the "Pixel-dimention" section, and the inches/cm/mm/etc and dpi is under the "Document-size" section.

TL;DR: Canvas inches and dpis are for physical prints only; Pixels are digital, so they don't mix with dpis or inches, etc. Digital and physical don't mix in a way that would make sense. Please don't say "2000 x 2000px at 300dpi"~ @_@;

I hope I made sense and cleared up some misconceptions about dpi and canvas sizes :). .and i hope i didn't make a mistake here hahaha;;;.

sorry if i sounded like a know-it-all v_v;; i guess I found a new pet-peeve D;~

damn, i wrote a lot; sorry, bad habit D:~!

edit: if you're a math-kindda person, you can also look at this mathamatically:

12 x 18inch at 300dpi =

12 x 300 dpi = 3600pixels
18 x 300 = 5400

therefore 12 x 18inch at 300dpi = 3600 x 5400pixels

and that's how you get the pixels vs inches + dpi.

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sockstealingnome Featured By Owner May 15, 2013
Ok that's what I thought. After a certain size my program crashes though. I guess I need a better computer.
BleedingProse Featured By Owner May 13, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Brilliant. About time someone made this clear.
CirqueDuBonheur Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Gaah I still do not understand and it is driving me INSANE! I use Sketchbook Pro 6, and I want to do a print somewhere around like 26x17. But all Sketchbook has is just a place to put in the inches you want for size. You can change it to pixels, but then that changes the inches...? So I wan to have my print be 300dpi, but I want it to be that big. How the heck do I do that?
Qinni Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
When it's showing inches, it should also show dpi at the same time. Worse comes to worse, you can do it manually: 26 x 17 inches at 300 dpi, you just have to multiply 26 by 300 and 17 by 300, and you'd have your measurements in pixels.
CirqueDuBonheur Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Ok, thanks :) I am just slow with this stuff ha.
cg4200 Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2013
i have a photo i took, its 4062 x 1993 pixels when i open it in intention is to print this photo out at work where we have a printer that can print 52 inches by however long the roll of print paper is.....but im trying to determine how big my photo actually is and how big can i get it to print without it getting says in the doc size that the photo is approx 13 x 6 inches at 300 resolution...that seems small.....can i just change the size to be larger and will it affect the quality....i want to create a big print but maintain best quality...what settings should i use or change?
Qinni Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
yah, 4062 x 1993 sounds around 13 x 6 inches at 300 dpi. You can change the size (make it 15 x 7 or something) but it will no longer be at 300dpi; it'd probably be around 260dpi or something (photoshop will give you an accurate number, i'm just guessing here). If you want a 52 inch by something picture AND have it print at 300 dpi, the pixel resolution would be extremely big, somewhere around 15600 pixels by something at 300dpi. (15600 pixels is 52 inches at 300 dpi).
At this point, I'm really not sure what you can do without losing quality though, since your digital picture is already set in a certain size at a certain quality;...I'd say re-take the picture and put the setting at the largest resolution possible, but I don't know if that's possible for you either. I think printing things out at 150 dpi would be okay too and the quality would suffer only a little bit. anything less than that dpi-wise would make the picture blur and pixelize (is that a word?).
Sub-The0ry Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes, you are spot on. Thanks for helping me understand that a lot clearer!
KaikenKamiura Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Made life so much easier. I never really understood what DPI had to do with artwork in Photoshop. Thanks for posting this.
TildsArt Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
This reminds me of my design classes :P
In short it's 72dpi for digital and 300dpi for print
I usually set up a document for printing because you can never know what it could get useful for

..maybe you get famous and they want to print your art on building-sized panels o.o
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