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I have been asked to design a huge shop window wrap. The exact dimensions are 16640mm x 2400mm (yes thats 16m!). As a spec the printers have recommended working at 300 DPI, but making the image 50% or 25% of the size. So that makes it 150/75 DPI if I understand correctly.

Anyway, the graphic is to feature 5 product box images and a logo spaced equally along the length, so each product image is around 2773mm x 1200mm. The product images I currently have were shot by me with a Nikon D5100 at 16.2 mega pixels.

I am finding I am experiencing two major issues:

  1. The high res images of the product boxes are grainy. You can actually see the dots that have been printed.
  2. The image just doesn't blow up to the required size well. Colours begin to merge and definition is seriously lost. The white writing on the pack merges into the pink due to up sampling.

So...

  1. How can I avoid the graininess of the photos of a printed box?
  2. Is there any way to negate the effects of enlarging the image? Would using a higher resolution camera make much difference with such a large image?
  3. How do professionals do this? I am guessing some sort of 3D modelling of vectors?
  • Question for you: When viewing the banner from a distance does it look ok? Usually when I am designing large banners I keep the dpi low for all the imagery as you suggested. From close up is is grainy but from a distance it looks good and since people are viewing it from a distance it is ok. To blow up imagery at work we have been using Alien Skin, a plug in for photoshop, that helps minimize the negative effects of scaling up the resolution of an image. – user3299565 Oct 27 '15 at 6:01
  • I take it your specific problem here is really that such huge jobs are normally billboards and similar things, which are always viewed from a distance and can therefore easily be in much lower resolution; whereas a shop window wrap must be designed to be viewed by pedestrians passing the shop, from perhaps as little as 50–70 cm. away. That requires a lot more of its resolution. Incidentally, however, that also means you shouldn’t make your elements too big, since enormous elements are overwhelming and hard to decipher if you’re too close. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 27 '15 at 10:53
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    No theres no easy surefire way to handle this. – joojaa Oct 27 '15 at 11:32
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    I'd say a large format camera could deliver much better image quality, but the printed images on the box will obviously not get any better. It really depends on the design of the boxes and whether you have access to original image data of the box designs. Then you could comp the original photos used on the boxes into your photographs. Scaling up image files without the offset print screen will produce much better results. If possible use vectors for all text parts. – AAGD Oct 27 '15 at 14:30
  • @janus that is exactly the problem, that pedestrians are sometimes close to the window. – Richard Legg Oct 27 '15 at 19:07
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As mentioned in the comments there appears to be no surefire way to do this. The box artwork I was using was composed of mostly vectors, so I was able to put the piece together in illustrator, using just the front of the boxes, and replace the raster parts of the image with vectors. I then added a drop shadow by duplicating the image, Gaussian blurring and setting to multiply to make it look more realistic/give it some depth.

I learnt a lot while doing this such as how to use the gradient mesh tool, and am thankful for all the comments.

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Most if not all large format output is grainy. Mainly because its not meant to be viewed up close. From a distance it looks great but up close not so much. An option for working at 50% of the original would be to output the final image using an application/plug like OnOne's "genuine fractals". This usually does a good job of blowing things up and it's what many production houses use. Hope this helps.

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