What DPI should I print my canvas?

by Artbloc on 25/02/2010

So,  you have bought your new large format printer, you’ve stocked up with your gallery stretcher bars and inkjet canvas rolls. Now what? Set your printer to best quality 1440dpi and off you go!

Not quite. You don’t need anything even close to 1440dpi!

My printer can print at 1440dpi so why would I use anything else? It comes down to time and money. Printing at 1440dpi can use more ink than a lower resolution. Time is a big factor too. 1440dpi printing takes far longer to print.

When you are printing on either a natural media like cotton inkjet canvas, fine art canvas or a synthetic media like polyester inkjet canvas the texture of the canvas is very forgiving.

None of the following is relevant when printing on photo paper rolls, but if you are printing on inkjet canvas, read on …

When printing on a cotton canvas or a polyester canvas, you don’t need to print at anything more than 180dpi. Yes 180dpi. Set the printer itself to 720dpi either in the driver or in your rip software. The files you create though don’t need to be anything more than 180dpi.

We’ve tested many canvases and have proved to ourselves, that printing at resolutions higher than 180dpi do not improve the quality of your print when printing on an inkjet canvas. 180dpi prints onto a canvas look perfect. You can’t improve on perfection so stick to 180dpi.

The texture of your canvas roll is really the determining factor.  Below about 180dpi you will start to see fuzziness in your image. Once you hit around 180dpi you stop seeing any improvements in image quality.

This has many benefits. Your library of images you print from takes up far less space.  When printing, your images process much faster.

180dpi was also chosen because it’s an exact multiple of the printer’s native 1440dpi resolution. Keeping to multiples means that the interpolation of your image is more accurate. It probably doesn’t make a noticeable difference when printing on fine art canvas or polyester inkjet canvas, but I think it’s a good practice to stick to. You might start to see a difference when printing images with thin lines or tiny text on premium inkjet photo paper.

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