Monday, April 16, 2018

How Big Can I Print My File?

When it comes to printing large-format sizes, determining if your file is high-enough resolution can be tricky.  Here are some methods you can utilize to guess-timate how large your file can be printed.

Check the file size.

Normally when files are sent to you via email, the thumbnail will come up with the title and size of the file that was sent to you. Typically anything around 600kb is going to be quite small to print - say, 8x10 to 11x14 sort of size. If it's over 1MB, then you might be able to print it in the 16x20-ish range. Higher than 2MB, and we're looking at a much higher chance at hitting 24x36 and higher.

If you aren't able to check a file size though email, you can also check it on your computer. On a PC, right click the file and select Properties. It should tell you how large the file is. On a Mac, all the information should pop on a side window when you select it in the folder.

Check the resolution.

Although knowing the size of a file can help, it is the quality of the resolution that ultimately will dictate how large a file can be printed. Sometimes you can have a relatively small file, but the quality of the resolution is excellent, and therefore it can be printed at quite a large size. For most print projects, we ideally would like files to be 300dpi (300-dots-per-inch) at the size you wanted it printed, but 50dpi is usually considered visually acceptable.

How do you check for resolution? Typically it's found in the same area where you would find the size of the file. A file that says it is 1500x2500 px, for example, means that the file is 1500 pixels wide, and 2500 pixels high. If we apply the minimum 50dpi rule, (50pixels per inch), then that means the 30 x 50 inches at the very largest. 

The quality of the resolution matters.

When a file is not large enough to print, sometimes the first thought is to "add more pixels". While mathematically it makes sense, in reality there is no way to "add more pixels" to make an image clearer at a larger size.

Imagine you a puzzle piece that is 100 pieces wide, making the final width 50". This would mean each puzzle piece is approximately 0.5" in width.

Now imagine you would like the puzzle's final width to be 100". Although you could add white puzzle pieces to fill in the gaps between the ones you already have and colour them in, the result is that the full picture is still not going to be completely clear. The same concept applies to resolution - if the quality of the photo was low to begin with (with a smaller amount of pixels), adding more pixels will not make the photo more clearer; it will only make guesses based on the surrounding information the program understands, and fill in the colour at random. 

How to get a larger file version?

Upon discovering that you need a larger file, here are some ways to track a better one down:
  • Was it sent via Instagram/Facebook/Messenger etc? Any file sent through (or taken from) social media platforms will already be compressed, and therefore too small to print. In this scenario, we recommend contacting the person who posted the photo to send you the file through email.
  • When sending photos over email, make sure your sender is selecting "largest file size possible". Most email providers on mobile phones will list several options, and you are looking for either large size, or actual size. This should get you the original file with as much resolution information as possible.
  • Was your image found on Google? Try dragging the low-res image back into Google Reverse Image search. The engine should find all similar photographs, and list their sizes. Sometimes you may be able to find a larger version hosted from a different website. 
  • If your reverse-image search turns up nothing, and you are willing to find an image that is similar but not the same, we recommend hitting up some free stock photography websites. Stock photography websites will host beautiful photos with massive file sizes, perfect for printing large-format. All they request in return for your use is credit where you can (we can add it onto your photo before we print if requested).
And that's all of our tips for now! Hopefully this has been helpful! If you've gone through the article and still find yourself stumped on your file, send it on over to us, we'd be happy to check for you :)

And if you're ready, hop on over to and upload those files today - we print and ship most items within 2-5 business days! Let's get that awesome piece of artwork over your sofa before next week!


KeenArt Media is an online fine art printing and framing company, specializing in canvas, archival and photographic prints and reproductions. We are proud to serve and support artists from all over Canada. 

KeenArt Media Ltd. Toll Free: 1-888-533-6278 (KeenART) 
Working Hours: Pacific Standard Time
8:30 AM to 5:00 PM Monday to Thursday
8:30 AM to 4:00 PM Friday

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