How can I upload artwork without it looking grainy?

by Terry
(Winnipeg, MB)

Q: I would like to upload my artwork but when I scan it and upload it to a site it looks terrible compared to the original. Should I take a photo and upload it and how would I upload the best possible resolutions?

A: Scanning your artwork is probably going to give you a better chance of getting a quality reproduction than if you take a photo of it.

There are a couple of important things to consider when scanning your artwork. Namely, size and resolution.

When scanning for the web you only need a relatively low resolution of 72 pixels per inch (ppi). Compared to scanning for printing out a copy which requires around 225 to 300 ppi.

Now these resolution numbers are assuming that you are going to use the image at the same size as you scanned it. If you use Photoshop Elements to enlarge your image before you upload it to the web you will lose quality and it can appear jagged or pixelated.

If you want to display it online at a larger size than the original artwork you should scan it in at a larger size. Most scanners will let you enlarge your image as you scan it. Most at least give you options of increments of 100 such as 200%, 300%, etc. if not more precise.

The good news is that you can reduce the size of your image without any loss in quality. So let's say you know you need to display your image larger than the size of the original artwork. You're not sure of exactly how much bigger but you know it's not twice as large. Then you can scan it at 200% and know it can be reduced down without any loss of quality.

Okay, let's break it down to the important parts:

  • Resolution is expressed as pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the resolution the bigger your file size will be. The bigger your file size is the more space it will take up on your computer and it might take longer to load on a web page.
  • For viewing on a monitor your resolution should be at least 72ppi. For output to a printer your resolution should be at least 225ppi but 300ppi might be necessary for best quality.

  • If you enlarge a digital image you will probably notice poorer quality. The more you enlarge it the worse it will look. You can reduce a digital images size with no loss in quality.

  • If you need your scan to be larger than your original artwork you should enlarge it as you scan it rather than after it is scanned.

This stuff can be hard to grasp at first. If there is any part of it that you need clarified please use the link below to add a comment and ask your question.
Good luck Terry!

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