Printing in 300dpi or 72dpi?

I have an assignment that needs to be printed on A2 paper and has so be as crisp as daylight.
I drew my design at 72dpi, however I’m hearing that it needs to be printed 300dpi at least, and I’m worried that I’ve screwed myself.
Is it possible to print 72dpi on A2 without it pixelating somehow?

Yes it is possible to print in 72dpi without getting it pixelated.  Just ensure that the viewer is at least 1.5 meters away from the image, which should be feasible for an A2-sized print. 

The reason is that the minimum print resolution isn’t really dictated by the size of the image, but by the distance of the viewer to the picture. What matters to human eyes isn’t the dots-per-inch resolution, but really dots-per-degrees. Hence a 72dpi image at 1.5 meters looks just as sharp as a 300dpi image at 30 centimeters.

Use these common resolutions as a rough guidelines:

  • 300dpi for a viewing distance of 30 centimeters — or standard reading distance.
  • 150dpi for a viewing distance of 60 centimeters — or about an arm’s length.
  • 72dpi for a viewing distance of 1.2 meters — or about four steps away.

For more details and the exact formula have a look at our discussion on calculating the right print resolution.

Just try it out. Take your best artwork so far, print it at 72dpi then view it at the varying distances above. Observe it at standard reading distance — where you can see obvious pixelations — then slowly step back until you can’t see the grainy-ness in the print. Notice how far you can go until the individual pixels blend together – the farther the distance, the better your eyesight is.


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