I have to make a photo artwork of 8 meters by 3,56 meters. I am looking for pictures on shutter stock to work with, but I can only find images of about 50/80 cm high / 300 dpi. (I will work them into a kind of 'collage', so I'm not looking for just one picture).

I read somewhere that you can scale these kind of pictures as much as you want, for a billboard for example, but this will be for a wall which will NOT be seen from distance, but from up close.

So my question is, how much can I scale up the pictures without losing (noticeable) quality?

Thank you very much in advance!!


  • @Luciano - except that the approved answer for that question was "use vector art" and though that was an appropriate answer for that question, in this case it won't work I think. – GerardFalla Dec 12 '18 at 16:20
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    @GerardFalla "use vector graphics in the artwork wherever practical". And the second most voted answer has even more details on distance x resolution. Those still answer this question. – Luciano Dec 12 '18 at 16:26

Elisabeth - the primary issue you have is a simple one really - you need to have a minimum DPI output to look even halfway decent. I've designed tradeshow booths, and they have the same condition there: larger format print, OK to have lower than 300 DPI (fine print resolution) but not ok to go disastrously low because the viewer can be very close, and will see the obvious pixelisation of a low-res image.

Many tradeshow booth manufacturers will specify no less than 75 DPI, some will say no less than 90 DPI; I've played around enough with actual real-world results from multiple vendors and use-cases to have my own rule of thumb: 110 DPI as a target, 100 DPI as a low-end limit, 220 DPI as a super-high end limit (you can see a difference up to this point, but for most larger-format printers and plotters, beyond this is just overkill as you can't discriminate the difference and it just adds process cost for you).

You should buy the highest resolution images you can to make your comp with, and then use the resolution of the comp itself to drive your final output.

  • Dear Gerard, Thank you so much for your fast and elaborate answer - it is super helpful! Though I still have some questions. If I understand correctly, I can scale up the images, causing a lower DPI output, until a limit of 110/100 DPI. Is that right? If yes, how do I know how much I can scale? Im sorry if I am not understanding right - I'm a print designer for clothes so I know how to work with photoshop but this is a completely different world if you ask me ;) – Elisabeth Dec 12 '18 at 16:50
  • It's basic maths: if your original image is 300 DPI and 10 x 10, and you scale it up to 20 x 20, you've doubled output size and halved the resolution, so 150 DPI. In other words, it's an inverse ratio. – GerardFalla Dec 12 '18 at 17:00
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    Ah okay, that's not too difficult ! Thank you very much for your help ! – Elisabeth Dec 12 '18 at 17:01
  • You can sale it up to whatever you want, you could scale it up to be viewed from space if you want. The initial size of the photo will be the same. – Rafael Dec 12 '18 at 21:28
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    The 300 dpi is far more a guideline than an actual rule, than people think ;) offcourse on a wall 4meters high there is way less pressure for the upper parts have that much resolution. – joojaa Dec 12 '18 at 22:14

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