FAQs - photography

Your file is only high resolution at a certain size.

If you are dealing with a vector file, there is no resolution (vector files do not use pixels and cannot be said to be high res or low res). See vector graphics here.

Resolution illustration

Any file can be shrunk in size enough to make it high resolution. "Resolution" is simply a count of how many pixels a file contains in a given area (typically, a count of pixels per inch or ppi).

So is your photo high res? You can only answer this when you know how large it needs to be printed. Every raster image is made up of a grid of pixels. Pack more of them into a given area and the resolution increases (higher resolution). Spread those pixels out over a larger area (a larger print) and the resolution (count of pixels in every inch) drops.

Here's a method for figuring this out:

  1. Open the file in an image editor (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.)
  2. Find out the pixel dimensions:
    1. In Photoshop, go to Image -> Image Size
    2. The image's pixel dimensions are shown in red. Divide these numbers by the desired output resolution. For example, the above image shows the resolution to be 176.825 ppi at 24.25 x 16.106 inches:
      1. 4288 ÷ 176.825 ppi = 24.25 inches wide
      2. 2848 ÷ 176.825 ppi = 16.106 inches high
      Dividing by a different resolution will yield a different output size. For example, if you need the image to be high resoluion you should divide by 300. Note that the output size drops accordingly (below). We're simply packing more of the available pixels into every inch:
      1. 4288 ÷ 300 ppi = 14.293 inches high
      2. 2848 ÷ 300 ppi = 9.49 inches wide

An image can be resampled in Photoshop but not with any gain in clarity. The image will indeed become higher res, but no additional true detail will be added to the image.

If you are not clear about resolution, feel free to give us a call.

Every image has a shape. Some are square, most are rectangular. Aspect ratio is simply a description of the image's width and height. This is most often expressed as a ratio such as 4:5, 16:9 and so on. This can express length:width or width:length, depending on whether the image is oriented to portrait or landscape.

Aspect ratio and resolution describe different things about a file. Aspect ratio and resolution are related (one describes the numerical relationship between the length and width, the other measures how many pixels per inch are available) but they are not the same thing.


Every square image, regardless of its size, has an aspect ratio of 1:1.  That means that the length of the image is exactly the same as its width. That's what we mean when we say "square".


Most photos come off the camera as some sort of rectangular shape. Common aspect ratios are 4:5 and 16:9.

Cropped images

If you crop your own images without paying attention to aspect ratio, it is very likely you'll end up with a non-standard size that will require custom framing. We are capable of printing most non-standard sizes without any trouble at all; but be aware that when you reach framing stage you may encounter some trouble with standard frames.

So what aspect ratio should I use?

That depends. What size print do you want? If you want a 12" x 12" (square) print, you need to crop the file to be square. If you want an 8" x 10", there's no use in sending us a long panoramic photo or a square photo. Common aspect ratios are below.

Common aspect ratios include:

Moving columns requires cropping
Moving rows requires 
changing resolution




4" x 6" 4" x 4.53"  4" x 5" 
8" x 12" 8" x 10.67" 8" x 10" 
10" x 15" 9" x 12"  9" x 11.25" 
11" x 16.5" 11" x 14.67" 11" x 13.75"
16" x 24" 16" x 21.33" 16" x 20"
18" x 27" 18" x 24" 18" x 22.5"
24" x 36" 24" x 32" 24" x 30"

What's the difference?

RGB colour is made up of Red, Green and Blue colours. This is typically used for screen graphics: monitors, handheld devices such as smart phones, and other screens. See

CMYK colour is made up of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black colours. This is also known as process colour, full colour and four colour. CMYK is typically used in inkjet, digital and offset press printing.

Spot colour is made up of whatever inks are chosen or the job. Typically designers will use a black ink plus one, two or more 'spot' inks. We create one press plate per colour, and these are each printed in turn to create the finished image. True spot colour printing can only be done on a press, but many digital devices (inkjet and digital printers, for example) are able to emulate spot colours.

Which one should I use for my files?

It depends entirely on the job.

Production method

Best colour model

Typical examples

Full colour offset press CMYK brochures, fliers, posters, rack cards, some stationery 
Spot colour offset press spot colour stationery, forms,  some posters and promotional printing
Large format inkjet  RGB posters, exhibits, displays, maps
Digital colour CMYK  reports, booklets, business cards, stationery

If you accidentally provide the file with a mismatched colour model, that's fine. Our prepress operators have a lot of experience swapping files from one to the other.

Still confused?

Don't worry about it. Give us a call.


Print size depends on what we're printing on. Your art must fit the roll width of the media we're printing on. Length is virtually limitless.

  • Our canvas rolls are 44" wide
  • Fine art paper rolls are 36" and 24" wide
  • Photo paper rolls are 44" and 24" wide


We usually tile-scan artwork originals. Because of this, it's difficult to capture originals that are excessively large. Art up to 24" x 30" is getting near to our upper size limit for scanning. Call us to discuss your original.

TAGS: inkjet, scanning

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