I am preparing the art project which involves using characters to obtain a visual and not literary artwork. Something like concrete poetry.

Project is supposed to be 20 inches of width and 15 - 20 ft of hight.

I tried various programs like Scribus but settled eventually with GIMP.

This project is to be viewed only on the computer it's not going to be printed. Now I need a software I could use for viewing only purpose.

I thought of exporting GIMP file as PDF and use Acrobat Reader but apparently the project is too large for the program to display. So, is there any software capable of displaying such a file for viewing purpose only like PDFs or should I just use GIMP or Photoshop for displaying the project?

I don't want it to be a picture you need to zoom in to see details (the text) but something like scrolling down like a PDF or website because it's important to view the project in chronological (top -> bottom) order.

  • 1
    You can set a PDF to show contents at 100% rather than the typical default of "fit to screen".
    – Scott
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 9:35
  • 1
    Gimp/Photoshop images are bitmaps. I am able to create a 2000x60000 pixels image (which is about what you need to display 20"x600" on current displays) with Gimp() and then view it fullscreen at 1:1 zoom with Gwenview (with some scrolling of course). If you want a real PDF you have to create your image with vector graphics apps (Illustrator ior Inkscape). () rather simple image of course, with one layer the image takes 1.5GB or RAM).
    – xenoid
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 13:43
  • 3
    With all respect. Your process has no sense. If it was meant to be viewed only on screen, why did you not made it at scale? Why would someone be interested in opening a humungous file?
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 22:14
  • 2
    Nonsense 2: Why did you make it on a raster program in the first place? Nonsense 3, why you now want a PDF file, instead of a simple JPG? A PDF will be a PDF with a JPG inside.
    – Rafael
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 22:15
  • 2
    If it’s not meant to be printed, then how come you’re talking about its dimensions in inches?
    – Wildcard
    Commented Apr 18, 2019 at 7:24

2 Answers 2


The basic problem as Xeniod pointed out is the resulting file size. While there are many PDF viewers, some may choke on files that are too large. Others may not choke, but can take a looong time opening the file, so much so the user thinks it's broken.

You mentioned print size, but not dpi. Since it won't actually be printed, you could use a low dpi. If you search around, you'll find billboards printed at 30 or even lower dpi. Lower dpi means smaller file size. Did your client/professor/teacher/boss give you a minimum dpi?

If not, to keep the filesize down, use a vector drawing, as Xenoid suggested, or start with a smaller image, say 1in by 12in at 600 dpi. When done, scale it up. This will give you a 30dpi final product. Much more manageable.

You should also ask the client/professor/teacher/boss what format they want it in. If they "don't care", go with PDF. That's a safe bet.

  • This kind of misses the point I think. If the image is only to be viewed full-screen on a video monitor, then: (1) DPI can be ignored completely, and the image should be precisely the pixel size of the target display; (2) there is no benefit to PDF. As @raphael states, a PDF is simply inserting the untouched image into a PDF wrapper, increasing the file size. If resampling is done while exporting the PDF, then any size benefit is from that and the resampling should simply be done on the original. Hopefully the OP can give the specification sheet, so we might be able to provide coherent answers
    – Yorik
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 17:06
  • True, but some teachers/bosses insist on something that doesn't make sense. And if you want to pass/keep your job, you do it anyway. Commented Jun 28, 2018 at 1:48
  • @user2891127: unless it is plain impossible. If you cannot convince your boss it is, fake it, and tell him/here that it worked.
    – Jongware
    Commented Nov 18, 2018 at 20:10

I hope this answer years later will help someone on a similar case.

1. The first part of the answer is Proportion.

The proportion of the document is 1:12, 20x240 inches.

So, the first two numbers that come to my mind when thinking on a project that is meant to be viewed on a screen is 1,920x23,040px. That is above average for a raster image, but still manageable. It will fit pretty well on the majority of monitors, of course, scrolling down, and down, and down.

If you still need to maintain for some reason inches as a unit, the 20x240in size is still inside the size limits of vector-based programs, Illustrator, Corel, or Inkscape. What needs to be defined is the internal resolution, for things like rasterized effects.

If we divide the 1920 px between 20 inches, we have 96PPI which is in fact still great for a real size print.

(I think Illustrator could want to use 72PPI if you define the project in px, but other programs will not have that limitation)

2. Vectors and text

For the zoom part, keep the text as text. Period. Do not increase the document size, do not increase the resolution, just keep the text as such and you can zoom in as you want.

You can apply some JPG compression to the background image and still have super sharp text.

This excludes using Gimp if the text is smaller than what you can have with 96PPI, but seeing the real numbers, I think you still have room to work text as pixels.

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