Free shipping on orders $79 and up
menu icon

Help System > Tips for getting a good print

Tips for getting a good, sharp print

video preview image
loading...

 

high-resolution panoramic print in hands
Panoramic high-resolution fine art giclee print

Hi, welcome to Indigo Image Lab, this is Neil, and I’m going to show you how to make sure your print will be a nice, sharp print.

On this page we’ll go over 1) how to make sure your image is a big, original image, 2) how to do the "zoom in" trick to check your image for sharpness, 3) how to use our smart Sharpness Checker to see what your print will look like up close, and 4) some more tips for deciding whether or not to print an image.

The reason why we produced this page is because one of the most common questions we get is, "How do I make sure a print of my image will be sharp?"

If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to answer this question yourself in a few minutes. Here’s what we recommend:

1. Send us the original image

demo of how an image is reduced in quality after texting
Texting an image significantly reduces its size and sharpness. Never send images to a printing company that have been texted or posted to social media.

Always make sure that you send us the full-sized, original image that was taken with a camera or a cell phone. In order to make a sharp print, we need that original big image. The bigger the file size, the better the print quality, assuming the image itself is sharp.

Here’s a tip: Never send us images that have been texted to you or that you’ve downloaded off of social media sites. When an image is texted or posted to social media, its size and quality are significantly reduced, making them almost unusable for a good quality print. Here’s an example.

This is the original image of an orchid, and this is the same image after it was texted to someone. They both look the same at first glance, but there are big differences. The original image size is 1844K, or 1.8 megabytes. The texted image’s size is only 453 K, or .4 megabytes. That smaller image size means much less detail and much worse print quality.

So, how do you get the original image to us? If you took it on your cell phone, use our web app at indigoimagelab.com, then click “get started”, then click “start my order”, to select that original image on your phone and upload it. If someone else has the image file, have them send that original file to you as an email attachment, not via texting or messaging or social media. Then, save the file and upload that file to us. If the photo was taken with a camera, then copy the original image file to your computer, and then select that original image file when uploading it to us.

Now that you have the original, big image to use, let’s move on to the next step.

2. Zoom in to check for blurriness

image showing how blurriness is revealed when zooming in
Always zoom in to 100%, or full size, to see if an image is blurry close up

Pre-check your image to be sure it’s sharp close up.

A common mistake people make is looking at an image on a cell phone screen or viewer app on their PC or Mac, deciding it looks sharp, and then sending the image on to a printing company, like us.

Then the printing company calls the customer asking about the blurry image, which surprises the customer. Here’s why this happens.

Every cell phone, and every PC or Mac does not show you the full size version of an image when you click on it to view it. It shrinks the image way, way down so it all fits on your screen, but by doing so, it hides blurriness.

The fix for this is to be sure to zoom in to the image so you can see the details, to make sure they’re sharp.

Find the button or command on your device that lets you see an image at 100%, or “full size” or something like that. If you can’t find that, that’s OK, just zoom in to the details of the image, to be sure everything is sharp.

If the details look sharp when you zoom in, then you’re ready for the next step:

3. Use our free Sharpness Checker

screenshot of our Sharpness Checker
Check to be sure your print will be sharp with our free Sharpness Checker

Use our free, smart Sharpness Checker to see what your print will look like up close.

Our website (which is also a web app that works quickly on any device), has a great feature called the Sharpness Checker, which shows you what your print will look like up close.

You don’t need to create an account or enter any personal information to use it, so we encourage you to try it out now. It shows you what a 5”x5” section of your print will look like, which is about the size you’d be looking at if you looked at your print from about a foot away.

It gives you an accurate view of how sharp or blurry your print will appear up close. The Sharpness Checker automatically changes what it shows you based on the print size you select.

To use it, visit indigoimagelab.com, click “get started,” then “start my order,” then drag and drop an image file, or click the button to select one. Once the image uploads, scroll down and you'll see the Sharpness Checker.

If the image looks sharp in the Sharpness Checker after you've selected a print size, you're guaranteed to get a beautifully sharp print.

More pro tips for print quality

Be sure to use the sharpness checker if you see the Poor Print Quality indicator
Be sure to view the Sharpness Checker if you see the Poor Print Quality indicator

Tip 1: There’s an on-screen message called the “poor print quality” indicator which you might see at the bottom-left of your image. The smart ordering system is constantly doing math behind the scenes, and it knows when blurriness might be an issue as far as printing is concerned, and it’s letting you know about this.

If you see it, it doesn’t mean that you should absolutely not have the image printed, it’s just letting you know you should definitely take a look at the Sharpness Checker when evaluating whether or not to print the image.

Click the Sharpness Checker to see more details about why it appeared.

Tip 2: If you’re a professional artist or photographer, and you sell a print or a canvas, your customers will expect it to be a sharp print.

We recommend that you use the Sharpness Checker to ensure that the print will be sharp at the print size you want.

Slightly blurry image of a dog
Some cherished pictures are OK to print blurry. A "not-perfect" print is better than no print.

Tip 3: Some pictures mean a lot to us. If you want to print an image that’s a little blurry, but that has a lot of emotional significance, then don’t worry so much about the blurriness. Get it printed and framed at a small or medium size, like 8x10 or 12x18. This will reduce the appearance of the blurriness and give you something to smile at for a long time.

We love helping people with all of this. If you ever have an image and you want some advice with it, click "help" at the top, click "Contact us", send us a message, and we'll do our best to help you!

Why not place an order today?

check markCompleted.