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Outlaw news: Image resolution 101

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By Kelsey Dzintars Senior Graphic Designer

I recently had the opportunity to take part in critique in Jeffrey Conger’s senior graphic design class at MSU for their first thesis review of the semester. Returning to my alma matter had me reflecting on how much I learned in my four years there.

With the exponential learning curve, the fundamentals of design can be quickly taken for granted by the time you’re a senior developing your own app, production company or fully-responsive website – just a few of the projects these highly-talented students are tackling.

One of these valuable pieces of knowledge that’s easy to take for granted is the understanding of image resolution. At Outlaw Partners, this is a topic we discuss daily with clients and contributors, whether we’re building a website or gathering images for the Weekly or Mountain Outlaw magazine. So, I thought I’d take the opportunity in this column to shed a few pixels of information on the topic. Note: Many graphic designers are known for bad industry terminology puns.

Digital images are comprised of a grid of tiny units of picture information called pixels. Resolution determines how many pixels are packed together in a given space (think of it as pixel density). Low-resolution images have fewer pixels in a given space, which make them appear blocky or blurry when printed.

Resolution is measured in pixels-per-inch (ppi) on screen, and dots-per-inch (dpi) when printed. 72 ppi is the common low-resolution measurement for images for use on screen or web, and a 300 dpi resolution will produce the best-quality printed image.

There are basic methods available to determine resolution of an image without an image-editing program. For a Mac, you can open the image with the pre-installed Preview program, then type command + I to open the inspector window, which holds all the image information. For a PC, simply right-click on the image file and select “Properties,” then click on the “Details” tab in the image properties window.

For an extended explanation of image resolution and/or to achieve the best image for your application, contact or (406) 995-2055.

The Outlaw Partners is a creative marketing, media and events company based in Big Sky, Montana.

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