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I'm making a billboard design - 400 cm wide + 300 cm high + 50 mm bleed. Cause the file is too big to make it in original size, I'm gonna make it in 1:10 ratio. So that means 40 cm x 30 cm + 5 mm bleed. I want to put a picture on the billboard - is it enought if I put a picture with 300 dpi? And the font - do I have to create outlines? I'm afraid of how it will look, when they will stretch everything to 300 x 400 cm. And I didn't get much information from the print shop, so I'm on my own..

Thanks for the info :)


The billboard is 10 meters away from the road, so people mostly only drive by. The picture I want to use is W=16,93 cm and H=11,12 cm and 2000 x 1324 px. But the picture is only for the background, so the billboard doesn't look so plain. And the picture is blurred. But there a still some details of the bearings and I don't want to loose them on the print.

enter image description here

Webster you are talking about dpi, and mnxd you are talking about ppi. When I open my photo in Photoshop - the image size shows me the photo resolution is 300 Pixels/Inch, but when I have the same photo in Illustrator it shows me - PPI: 124 .. Now I'm a bit confused..

enter image description here

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    I made your post into an edit. In the future please use the edit button, or if you have a question for one of the answers you get leave a comment on that answer. Thanks and welcome to the community. – Ryan Jun 29 '17 at 20:30
  • You are getting different resolutions because your actual image size differs in Photoshop and Illustrator. If you have for example a 10x10 Inch image in Photoshop at 100 Pixel Per Inch (1000x1000 Pixel) and you are trying to strech it in illustrator to an area of 20x20 Inch, your resolution will be only 50 Pixel Per Inch (because your image still only consists of 1000x1000 Pixel). Sorry if that sounds a little bit complicated, but its actually not that difficult once you wrap your head around it :) – mnxd Jun 29 '17 at 22:51
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    oh, ofcourse! I've just read somewhere to add more pixels with resampling/interpolation. So I did that, and now when I stretch to 400 cm x 300 cm, ppi is 30 (before it was 3). I hope it will work out all right. – Evelynn20 Jun 30 '17 at 6:29
  • Sounds good! Just keep in mind that you can’t interpolate an image indefinitely, without anyone noticing. But since you already stated that you are going for a blurred background image, it will most probably work out just fine in this case. Good luck! – mnxd Jun 30 '17 at 20:15
  • I did found a bigger photo (6000 x 3974 px) on Shutterstock, but I don't have an account there. So this was the only option I had. I just hope the bearings, that I used for the background, will be seen. The photo is pretty blurred, but still the bearings are slightly visible ( like on the photo). Crossing my fingers, it will come out good :) – Evelynn20 Jul 1 '17 at 10:42
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Your fonts and other vector art will scale up with no problem. That is the magic of vectors. You may want to outline your fonts anyway to reduce the risk of your print shop having trouble.

It's the photograph that will take some consideration. 300 DPI is a good start. Your target resolution will depend on how close people will view the billboard.

If they will see it from their cars on the side of the freeway than resolution is not as important. If people will be viewing the billboard from up close then the resolution needs to be very high.

A fair test of how your photo will look scaled up is to fit it into your scale model (1/10th) and then expand it to full size (x10). Zoom in till it is life size (400 cm wide).

What you see on your monitor is an approximation of what people will see when they are as close to the billboard as you are to your monitor.

Now zoom out to see how the image will look from a distance. Try 50% scale, 33% etc. You will begin to get an idea of the quality of your pic at full size.

As important as resolution is image size. If your image is 300 dpi and 20 inches wide then it will probably look acceptable at 1000% scale, from a distance. If your image is 6" wide at 300 DPI than it will probably not look sharp enough.

  • Their edit has a question in it for you (they posted it as an answer) – Ryan Jun 29 '17 at 20:29
  • I see where he mentioned me, but I don't see another question. – Webster Jun 29 '17 at 20:54
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Keep in mind that 300ppi at a 1:10 ratio would be 30ppi at the real size of your billboard. 30ppi is plenty for a billboard, you should just be aware of how your resolution changes with your ratio. (If you were to design a press wall for example you would want to use a higher resolution like 1000ppi at 1:10 to get 100ppi at the real size)

I dont see the reason in outlining fonts in 2017, but some large-format printers still demand it for some reason. It doesn’t do much harm to type in display sizes, so you might as well do it to be safe – but it is always best to get this information from your print shop. If they are not very helpful there you might need to consider taking your business someplace else :)

Hope I could help – Please feel free to comment if I can clarify something.

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    I only suggested outlining fonts in case the print shop doesn't have that font installed. A common problem in my world. – Webster Jun 29 '17 at 20:53
  • And you are right to suggest it – I’m just frustrated that we still have to do this :) Do you have further information on this? I always thought the print shop just needs to have the fonts installed if they are trying to make changes to the file – For them being able to print, the fonts only need to be embedded into the PDF, right? – mnxd Jun 29 '17 at 22:23
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    Yes, if they have the same font file installed then your art will come up on their computer looking the same as it does on yours. If you use a rare font then they may not have it installed so you should outline fonts first or send them the font file. Some fonts are bought or "borrowed" with a restrictive license that does not allow printing for commercial usage. In this case the print shop may refuse to print it. Outlining your fonts is the surest way to precisely achieve your design, but then others cannot edit the text. – Webster Jun 29 '17 at 22:28
  • Ah, I see. But if you try to embed a font, that does not allow printing or embedding, you would get a warning message anyway, wouldn’t you? (but we shouldn’t do that anyway if the typedesigner doesn’t want us to :D) – mnxd Jun 29 '17 at 22:38
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    I don't know about embedding fonts. When saving as a .pdf there is a dialogue showing i'm embedding "subsets of the font used in the file" but these have run into trouble at the printers. By the way, whenever a substitute font is used it messes up all the spacing. I often times do proofing with raster files (.jpgs) and upon final approval I'll finally convert text to outlines once before sending to print. Flattening the text before each save for proof is a hassle. – Webster Jun 29 '17 at 22:43

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