I have a very tight deadline to create a trade show booth poster in Adobe Illustrator. The size is 40" x 53.5". It is CMYK, 300 dpi.

One of the stock photos that I must use in it, which has been provided to me by the client (purchased on istock), needs to be scaled up in size (altho the resolution is thankfully ok, at 300 dpi). Basically the width and length of that photo is too small, and I have to scale it from about 5"x10" to about 12" x 26".

I am worried that this will print too pixelated. Does anyone know if it will look ok enough? I am unable to get in touch with the printer since it is for a large trade show through a client who can't figure out who the printer is. So I can't ask anyone any questions about it :(

It is for a kiosk so I think it will typically be viewed from 3 feet away. But even that I'm not able to find out.

To be honest, I don't see any photos on istock that would be the right substitute that would be large enough anyhow. Is there a database out there for poster sized stock?


  • Try to resize your final ai size to 150 or 200ppi but in same area. There is no problem for the vector arts. Leave the image at 300ppi resolution. then Drag or copy again the image into the ai file see if the image is bigger. It will compensate with the scale and generation loss of the image. The Prepress Designer will have some room to adjust it visually. avoiding some pixelated print out. Jan 18, 2018 at 8:16
  • Related and possible duplicate: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/487/…
    – Vincent
    Jan 18, 2018 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


I can't answer your question exactly as it is a subjective answer what you're expecting; but I can tell you with years of experience in trade show design that I nearly always had to massively interpolate images (sometimes by factor 10) used on trade shows and I know nobody who didn't.

Matter of fact is 2 things:

  1. If your client is an extreme perfectionist he will always mention something. Else not.
  2. 99% of people won't see a problem as they are not standing 5 centimeters ahead of it.

What you can do though is 3 things:

a) Zoom into 100% within your application and check the most striking elements from within a realistic distance like 1.5 meters. This will be the result you'll get - is that alright for you or not?

b) Often you can expand your given asset by adding elements on the boundaries of it: If you got flat colors at the edge(s) of your file, then open up PS > expand Canvas and gradually expand your edges. That way your actual image gets "bigger" and you don't need to scale it up that much anymore

c) Same technique: Add elements to the edges of your file, like clouds or sky of other images to expand the upper edge. Or add a sort of vignette to it so you can hide the edges of your given file better.

Hope that helps

  • Thank you. This tells me that I am on the right track here. I don't think it will print perfectly but in this case, I think it will be perfect "enough."I did manage to find a substitute image which I still had to size up, but considerably less. I really don't see alternatives for huge sizes made especially for trade show posters out there with the stock image offerings. Ideally I guess it is best to stick with vector graphics for these large sized banners/posters, but that is not always an option.
    – efrozit
    Jan 18, 2018 at 17:23

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