I have a question about a illustration I need to make. The illustration will be used on a banner of 5 x 3 meters. Normally I work with Photoshop. But if I will make this illustration with Photoshop for this size my document will be huge. Ofcourse I can lower the DPI but then I will lose quality. People can see the banner from close up so I dont want to lose quality. What is the best thing to do? I though about doing the biggest part with Illustrator and make a vector and then later adjusting the special effects such as Light and Shadow but is this possible?

Whats the best way for me to make this banner? I hope you guys can help me out!



3 Answers 3


I design quite a lot of banners for events, usually the pop-up kind, so people do stand close up to them. Also I started my career as a signage designer (and operated a digital printer for quite a bit of that time too) and created a lot of banners for clients.

You said you were worried about lose of quality, but in truth, no one will be looking at it as closely as a glossy magazine, so 300 dpi is wasted. Also, the people that print your banner will just convert it to 72 dpi anyway, printing a 5x3m banner at 300dpi will take an age, the printer & time is a resource and they will not want to do this (or if they do will charge a lot more).

Here is what I would do (I'm assuming you illustration will be a raster image):

  1. Save you illustration in Photoshop full size between 30 to 72dpi (billboards are at 30dpi)
  2. If the illustration covers a large area, do it in panels.
  3. Use InDesign, link to your Illustration and then the rest of your doc will be a small file size. If you don't have InDesign, use Illustrator, last resort use Photoshop. Remember be kind to your printer and outline your type when you send it to them :)
  • @Yoran no problem, I hope it helps. It's always tempting to print everything at 300dpi, I've been there too. But the reality of it, is it's not always needed (plus a smaller dpi will mean you PC/Mac will run a lot faster :D. Good luck with the banner. Feb 19, 2016 at 12:01

You could do it in sections in Illustrator like you said do the biggest parts then save it out as a vector. After transfer it to Photoshop and make small adjustments, Another tip would be to flatten the image once you get to a certain stage and are happy with the work as you wont be able to change it later but flattening images improves performance.


Assuming that you're proficient in Illustrator, I'd recommend that you use that. It'll have no problem working at full size. Check with your printer how much bleed is required for the banner; if there's going to be any hemming or welding around the edges you might need as much as an inch of bleed. Also, be wary of using any placed raster images within your Illustrator file. I've seen a lot of supplied files where a designer has just dropped a jpeg inside an Illustrator document and believed it somehow magically makes it vector.

When it comes to light and shadow effects, you can do a lot with meshes, filters and gradients, which keeps everything vector. Just be sure to adjust your set document raster effects to 300ppi before saving. That way they'll RIP correctly.

Finally, you don't necessarily have to drop the Illustrator file into InDesign to send it to print. Illustrator can save out to a PDF ready for print, (the PDF/X-4 preset should work fine) and any decent printer should be able to work directly from your Illustrator file (it's likely that they'll set it up in InDesign anyway as part of their workflow). When in doubt, ask your printer how they'd like it supplied.

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