View Full Version : printer DPI vs. screen DPI

01-09-2018, 12:29 AM
In analog media such as acrylics, WYSIWYG.

In printed media, I seem to recall that output measured in thousands of dots per inch (DPI) is common. It's been quite awhile since I paid attention, but I think one will have trouble distinguishing all the little dots with the naked eye. That said, one gets only a few kinds of dots and they are actually being visually mixed, so maybe it's possible to see them individually. The resolution in any event is "rather good" though.

On a common computer screen you get, what, 72 DPI? The physics is a little different because the pixels are made of light, and the lights bleed into each other. But this kind of resolution is an order of magnitude lower than what you get in print.

If you as an artist care about details, isn't this frustrating? Let's say the hairs on the edges of your analog brush strokes actually matter to you. How is this going to show up on a computer screen? Seems you'd have to be blowing this stuff up to be able to tell. And if it's blown up, that's not really the thing you're working on.

Maybe someone came up with higher DPI screens and I haven't kept up. But I'm pretty sure the whole computing world works on the idea of ~72 DPI as the common denominator. I don't think those 2K and 4K monitors are meant to solve that problem. I think they just give you bigger screens.

I'm supposing that bigger screens are in fact important. I'm realizing how little information is actually sitting front of me on my laptop as I type this, on a 1440x900 screen. This is not even one inch worth of information in print! Well, spatially at any rate. Color is another matter.

I feel like I could make one stroke across the screen with, say, a house paint sized brush, and use up all the information that the screen is worth.

And this, is a blow-up of what I actually do all the time on a real painting, with small brushes in 1"x1" areas.

01-09-2018, 04:23 AM
Typical monitor DPI (pixels per inch) is around 100 but phones have much denser displays up to 400 DPI. My laptop display is 1920 pixels wide and 13 inches wide = 142.5 DPI. If you need to show extreme detail you will have to use close-ups.


01-09-2018, 07:08 AM
Ok I measured the laptop I'm using right now. 12" x 7.5" viewable area. 1440 x 900 resolution. 1440 / 12 = 120 dpi. 120 x 7.5 = 900, my math is good.

So I'm looking at 120 dpi. Maybe back in the stone ages 72 dpi was common. Haven't thought about it in a long time.