Poster printing from a digital image?
December 11, 2007 11:43 PM   Subscribe

Poster printing question. I have a 24x32 inch, 72 pixels per inch, digital image in either jpeg or psd filetype that I would like to have printed as a poster. Does anyone have experience with this?

Is that resolution/size good enough to look ok once the printing is done? Any suggestions for online services that can handle this type of printing? I have done some research but I am unexperienced with this type of project and would appreciate any advice you guys have for me. Thanks.
posted by beta male to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You asked for an online service that does this, but have you tried a "real life" service like Kinkos, or an equivalent copy center? That't what they're there for.
posted by amyms at 11:53 PM on December 11, 2007

300-220 ppi is considered optimal, 72 will look a bit chunky from about 2 feet away. No on will mistake it for a fine art print.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:58 PM on December 11, 2007

If you resample at 150 ppi, you'll get an 11.52" x 15.36" and it will look ok, not great. At 300 ppi (or dpi since you are printing) you'll get 5.76" x 7.68" print which will look wonderful, just small.
posted by idiotfactory at 12:03 AM on December 12, 2007

Your only hope of anything close to decent will be to resample it, plus print it smaller if possible. Depending on the image, it might look ok, or it might look really bad. Some types of images do a better job of hiding the pixels than others. There are a variety of tools that can resample the image, but Photoshop actually does a pretty good job, up to a point. As amyms says, I would take it somewhere local and tell them what you are trying to do.
posted by The Deej at 12:20 AM on December 12, 2007

Is there a college near you? Many colleges have a "kinko's" somewhere on campus (usually in the library) and it's a LOT cheaper than the real kinko's.
posted by fvox13 at 5:20 AM on December 12, 2007

Stanford's vector art conversion page may help, depending on what the picture is.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 5:21 AM on December 12, 2007

If you have illustrator you could place the photo in there and use LiveTrace to vectorize it (if you're not familair with that function, allow yourself plenty of time to play with the presets. It can be frustrating at first, but you can get some pretty good results out of it if you just keep messing with your sliders). It may not look photorealistic, really, but it may look good enough for a poster (depending on what you're after) and will almost certainly look better than a 72 dpi image than big.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:24 AM on December 12, 2007

Find someone with the app "Genuine Fractals". This app takes an image and can insert more pixels to give you a higher ppi at a given size. Then take it to any print shop.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:25 AM on December 12, 2007

Oh, and try to vectorize individual images with LiveTrace rather than the whole poster, then reassemble your layered images and text in Photoshop. That way you can have more control over the look of each image.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:26 AM on December 12, 2007

Might not be what you're looking for, but there's always Rasterbation.
posted by Nerro at 6:27 AM on December 12, 2007

Shutterfly will print the photo at 20" x 30" (which might actually look better at 72 dpi). Try to get a 300 dpi file for printing.
posted by mattbucher at 7:47 AM on December 12, 2007

Poster printers utilize sophisticated Raster Image Processors (RIPs) that make the best possible print from any supplied file. The printer operator will make necessary changes to optimize your file to print with his RIP, hardware and materials.

Do NOT resample or otherwise modify your file. Anything you do will make the final output look worse, not better. Just give the printer a copy of the original, unmodified file with cropping and color instructions.

Second using a local service if possible.
posted by Fins at 8:01 AM on December 12, 2007

The size and pixels per inch way of thinking about this is confusing to me, and seems to be confusing you.

You don't have a picture that's any particular size. You can print it at whatever size you want. There is fundamentally no such thing as a 24x36 file.

Nor is it any particular dpi. That's a function of the printed size and the resolution, not any quality of the image. There is no such thing as a file that is 72 dpi or 300dpi.

What you have is a picture that's about 1700 X 2600 pixels, or 4.5 MP. That is all. That is how much information is in that picture. You can rescale it all you want, and push buttons so that software tells you it's a 300dpi or 32238957234975dpi image, but at its core it will always be a 1700x2600 pixel file, at least as far as the actual information goes.

We have 16 X 20 prints from a 5MP camera that look fine. I suppose you wouldn't want to stand next to them with a magnifying glass, but there's no danger of that because we don't invite raging jerkwads who might do that to our house.

I would not go bigger than about 16 X 20. Even that might be sketchy.

Where: any online photo printer should be able to do it. Get a smaller print from them first so that you can adjust the color / contrast / gamma / whatever to your satisfaction before you order the ~$20 16x20.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:02 AM on December 12, 2007

(unless it's some sort of vector image... I was assuming it was a photo or modified photo)
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:03 AM on December 12, 2007

Please, please, for the love of Christ, do not go to Kinko's for this sort of thing (large format color digital imaging). Ever. Any local print shop will be able to do an unbelievably (by comparison) better job, for competitive rates, incredibly faster.

It was a while ago, but we had Kinko's print up some color 24x36 stuff we were working on, which took them forever to do, came out looking horrible and printed on vinyl (which is all they *could* do). Your Joe Blow Kinko's employee will not be trained or knowlegeable regarding large format color imaging, and will be no help to you whatsoever, unlike a reprographics shop where they'll most likely have one guy whose job is to pretty much do that type of stuff and make it look good. If you have a large format b&w thing you need copied, the self-serve machines at Kinko's are perfectly fine, but they're just not equipped to handle color stuff.
posted by LionIndex at 9:30 AM on December 12, 2007

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