:) I'm not a professional graphic designer or anything but I love making stuff on photoshop. I have a problem here with DPI & printing. I want to make a 24 " x 36" canvas for my friend's birthday this June. I've been 'designing' in photoshop for fun and for web only. I'm kind of new to making a design for print.

From what I have read through the internet, 300dpi is the best resolution for printing, yes? But when I tried to input 36 x 36 inches in 300dpi resolution in photoshop, the file is HUUUUGE. Gigantic. The image that I have to design just looks like a dot on it. T__T

I was wondering if I can just make or design the photo in 72dpi, and just change it to 300dpi later on? Would it work or is it just a fool's hope?

Could someone with a good heart please enlighten me on photoshop & prints? I would really appreciate all the help I can get. I am really confused on this one. Thank you so much. :)

  • No, but that said you should probably aim for 150 PPI
    – joojaa
    Jun 9, 2016 at 5:30
  • Thank you for the fast response. I've also read on other sites that 150 dpi will suffice, so 150 it is. Thank you again :)
    – Grace
    Jun 9, 2016 at 9:04

1 Answer 1


Not really. But it depends.

If you are working with vectors then you can resize with no problem but if you are working with raster images then you are out of luck.

See: What are the differences between vector graphics and raster graphics?

If you are working with raster images, changing the resolution (PPI) and keeping the physical dimensions the same will mean resampling the image and a loss in image quality. There are techniques for upscaling images, but they shouldn't be used as part of a design process in any way, they should be a last resort if you don't have access to high resolution originals.

See: How can I increase the size of a .jpeg without losing quality?

If you are working exclusively with shape layers and paths within Photoshop, they are treated as vectors and can be resized with no problem (inside Photoshop at least). But any rater layers will be resampled. There can be problems scaling some live effects too, which you can get around by rasterizing but then you will be upscaling raster images which is what you don't want to do.

See: Are shapes in Photoshop vectors?

Basically, you should always work at full resolution. If anything it is more usual to work at a higher resolution and downsample. Avoid upscaling images as much as possible.

With regards to the resolution, read through (there are a lot of 'linked' related questions too):

I need to print an image at a certain size. What dimensions and resolution should I use?

300PPI is a general rule of thumb, but is more appropriate for material that will be read close. Your canvas is quite large and depending on the viewing distance you could probably get away with 150PPI.

  • Thank you so much for your answer. I've bookmarked all the links :) I'm really thankful that there a lot of people on this site willing to help ^^
    – Grace
    Jun 9, 2016 at 9:02

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