Understanding Image Resolution

Understanding Image Resolution for Animation

A big factor in the quality and cost of an animation is the desired image resolution. All digital images are made up of small squares called pixels. The more pixels that an image is made up of, the more detailed the image. The pixels have no relation to the detail of the 3D model, but greatly affects how far you can zoom in on the image, and how big the image can be printed. If you blow up an image too much, it will become pixilated, where you can see that the individual pixels and the image is no longer clear.

You should pick your resolution based on the resolution of the screen, printer, or projector you will be showing your render on. For images that will only be displayed on a computer, projector, or HD Television you will generally want 1080HD (1920×1080, BlueRay 1080p) in extreme cases you may opt for 4K (ultra high definition) this technology is still fairly new and most older TV’s don’t support this. Images for print usually require higher resolutions – particularly for large signs, posters or billboards. If you are planning to print your renders, make sure you check with your graphic designer or printer so you can be sure the render meets your requirements.

You can render video at any resolution, but the standard resolutions are:

  • 480p (standard definition, DVD quality).
  • 720p (higher definition, great for projectors or laptop screens).
  • 1080p (high definition, BlueRay quality).
  • 4K (ultra high definition)

It is important to check ahead of time what screen your video will be played on.

Effects of Resolution on Render Time

Every time the resolution of an image doubles, the surface area quadruples. As well as, render times and file sizes go up fourfold. These relationships are particularly relevant to video, where the render times are already very long. It is important to agree upon the resolution prior to the start of a project so neither party involved is taken advantage of.

RealSpace 3D Animation Rendering Services

Understanding Image Resolution

Image Resolution for Print

Image resolution is often a confusing subject when it comes to preparing it for print. Image scale, DPI(DPI Refers to dots per inch for a printer, it is actually an outdated term generally when referring to digital media.  Pixels per inch, or, PPI is actually a more accurate term)and a file format are not things commonly thought about by those who are not in the industry.

Fortunately, we have broken down the resolutions needed for typically desired sizes for optimal quality at 300 DPI

Understanding Image Resolution for the Web

When optimizing a website it is best practice to use as few resources as necessary without compromising quality. This improves your site load time and as a result, your user’s experience is improved, which Google likes!

When you’re adding images to a website it is best to make the file sizes exactly the size you need.  If your image is being displayed at 700×500 @ 72 PPI it doesn’t make sense to display it as a 6000×6000 300 DPI image. It can be time-consuming to compress your images properly but it is definitely worth it in the long run. We use a website called https://tinyjpg.com/ to compress our images when we are doing web design.

Standard Image Resolution Chart
Physical Image Size (inches)Image Size in Pixels @72 PPI (Ideal for web)Image Size @ 300 PPI (Ideal for print)
4″ x 6″334×4321391×1800
5″ x 7″360×4661500×1941
8″ x 10″576×7452400×3106
8.5″ x 11″612×7922550×3300
11″ x 14.235″792×10253300×4271
18.544″ x 24″1335×17285563×7200

Image Resolution for Creating Billboard Images and Large Scale Architectural Rendering Images

When creating a billboard image it is important to realize a couple factors:

Billboards are typically not viewed up close and creating a resolution of 72000 x 93182 pixels at 300 PPI is not practical for a number of reasons.

  • Most rendering engines will cap out around 10000 x 10000 pixels
  • Programs like Photoshop may run out of memory at such a size
  • The final file size will be around 20 gigs

All of this makes the previously mentioned standards for print impossible, with this the question arises, what is the best file resolution for large-scale printing projects?

The answer to this is working in high PPI and scaling that back once the image is ready for print.

For example, you would start by creating an image in as high of a resolution as practicable, like 8000 x 8000 @ 400 PPI. This would technically give you great quality at 20 ” x 20″ which can be used for proofing or alternate marketing material.

This would technically give you great quality at 20 ” x 20″ which can be used for proofing or alternate marketing material.

Once the image has been finalized you scale the PPI from 400 to 40.

The image should now be suitable for 20′ x 20′ at 40 PPI which is an acceptable resolution for a billboard-sized image which is likely to be viewed from further away.

Billboard Architectural Rendering