How big a print can I make of a digital drawing?
August 13, 2017 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I've used Procreate to make a number of drawings on my first-gen iPad Pro (using the "screen size" setting of 2,038 x 2,732), and I'd like to print tests of several of them in a large format (local commercial print shop offers 4' x 3').

According to an earlier Ask question re: large-format prints of photos, I found the formula of dividing the pixel size by 300 to get the largest good-looking size for a print.

This would seem to nix my planned print size, but does the same formula apply to non-photo graphics?

Thanks in advance.
posted by the sobsister to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
300 dpi isn’t necessary for large art that’s going on a wall. You won’t be looking at it up close. I would be A-OK with 150 dpi and a lot of guidelines for art that will be viewed from ~6 ft away say that 100 dpi is acceptable.

That being said, your drawings will be about 56 dpi at 3’ x 4’…without knowing exactly what the content is like it’s hard to say if you’ll find those results acceptable. You could mock up a regular 8.5” x 11” sheet with a portion of the image zoomed to the resolution you would get at poster size (i.e. crop out a chunk of your image that’s about 476 x 616 and have it printed on a regular sheet of paper…re-do the math if you need margins) and see what it looks like so you don’t have to shell out for the full poster print.
posted by bcwinters at 7:32 AM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you do digital drawings in Illustrator, the vector can be infinitely resized. If you did them in raster, you can trace them in Illustrator (either with their own software with the Image Trace function or by hand or both) to convert them to vector.
posted by vegartanipla at 8:27 AM on August 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

bcwinter's technique is what I use when I want to make a big print and am not sure how well it will hold up. I scale up to the full resolution, take a crop of one or two representative parts usually at 8x10 (trying to choose areas that will most likely show the problems I'm concerned about) and then have them printed in the same method I plan to use for printing the full size. You could try printing it first on a home printer, but my experience is that the results are different enough between media and printing methods that I want to see the real thing. Just make sure that you view them at realistic viewing distances. With an 8x10 sample it's tempting to examine it from 6 inches away and be disappointed by the artifacts you can see, but if you get far enough away, it may look alright.

It's hard to speculate about how well your drawings will hold up at such a low resolution without seeing some examples. The method you use for scaling up the images can also make things look better or worse, but the best method is really going to depend on the nature of the drawings. I think your best bet is just to do a bunch of experimentation with small prints at the target resolution and determine what works best for your material.
posted by primethyme at 11:27 AM on August 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thank you for your responses. That's a great idea. I'll give it a try.
posted by the sobsister at 2:18 PM on August 13, 2017

With the Procreate app specifically, you can share your work as an Adobe Illustrator file so you don't even have to trace it, etc. Your print shop can probably take the AI file format and size up as needed.
posted by mikepop at 8:36 AM on August 14, 2017


Thanks. I know there's an "export as PSD" option, which, I assume, means Photoshop specifically. I hadn't see an option to export as an .ai file, is it? (sorry, don't work in Illustrator) Are they the same thing?
posted by the sobsister at 10:28 AM on August 14, 2017

Sorry, I must have been thinking of a different app - Procreate doesn't have the AI option.
posted by mikepop at 10:06 AM on August 15, 2017

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