How to Convert to High Resolution in Photoshop

Creating high-resolution files for use in print production may form one of the mainstays of your professional workflow, especially if y...


Creating high-resolution files for use in print production may form one of the mainstays of your professional workflow, especially if you're a graphic artist or print production specialist. If you're presented with low-resolution files and asked to make high-resolution versions of them, you'll achieve better results if you can obtain natively high-resolution files to begin with. Some low-resolution files actually can become high resolution without a loss of image quality, depending on the size at which you need to reproduce them. At the same time, however, some files require upsizing to make them meet your resolution needs.

Reinterpret Resolution

1. Open your file in Adobe Photoshop. Press "Shift-Ctrl-I" to open the Image Size dialog box.

2. Examine the Document Size statistics in the Image Size dialog box. If you see large width and height measurements with a resolution of 72 pixels per inch, your image probably originated from a digital camera. Turn off the "Resample Image" check box and set the resolution to 300 ppi. At the top of the dialog box, notice that the Pixel Dimensions -- width, height and file size -- remain unchanged, whereas the width and height in the Document Size section drop. For example, an 8-bit RGB image that measures 25 inches by 16.667 inches at 72 ppi measures 6 inches by 4 inches at 300 ppi, but remains 6.18MB in file size. Click on the "OK" button to apply your settings.

3. Review your image. Its size and appearance remain unchanged because you simply told Photoshop to reinterpret its resolution, not to increase it. Instead of a very large low-resolution image, your file became a smaller high-resolution image.

Increase Resolution
1. Open your file in Adobe Photoshop. Press "Shift-Ctrl-I" to open the Image Size dialog box.

2. Turn on the "Resample Image" check box and set the resolution to 300 pixels per inch. Notice that the Pixel Dimensions -- width, height and file size -- at the top of the dialog box increase, whereas the width and height in the Document Size section remain unchanged. For example, an 8-bit RGB image that measures 432 pixels wide by 288 pixels high at 72 ppi remains 6 inches wide by 4 inches high at 300 ppi, but becomes 1800 pixels wide by 1200 pixels high, and increases in file size from 364.5K to 6.18MB. Click on the "OK" button to apply your settings.

3. Look at your image window and image quality. Because you increased the resolution of your file, and thereby its size, your image window appears larger. With that increased size, however, comes pixelation introduced when Photoshop interpolated new pixels to accommodate the larger file area.

  • Tips
Sharpen your image after you increase resolution, not before. If you sharpen first, you may introduce sharpening artifacts that reduce image quality after enlargement. If you sharpen afterward, you may be able to offset some of the softening introduced by enlargement.
If a client asks you to increase image resolution and doesn't understand the negative effects of the process, invite him to watch you upsize a low-resolution image so he can see the byproducts for himself.
Always check client-supplied images that come from digital cameras. Most will show large image dimensions at low resolution. When you incorporate these files into a page layout, you may think you've received large files and try to use them at what appears to be their actual size.

  • Warning
Never use a low-resolution file in a print-production workflow that targets a printing press. The resulting output will look soft and pixelated.

References (1)
Adobe: Adobe Photoshop Help and Tutorials
Resources (1) 

Adobe Photoshop CS6 Classroom in a Book; Adobe Creative Team

About the Author

Elizabeth Mott has been a writer since 1983. Mott has extensive experience writing advertising copy for everything from kitchen appliances and financial services to education and tourism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Indiana State University.

Photo Credits
Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images

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