Enlarging stock photos for billboards

Hey folks,
Looking for advice on any apps or techniques to get my images about 140% of the resolution it is now.

Signage for Trade Show - 8’ x 10’ (to be seen from 10ft-30ft)
Prints at 100dpi.
Images are full color and varied in detail.

Any advice would be welcome.

Neverman, some questions:

  • What are the pixel resolution(s)?
  • Are these the largest size available from the stock sites?
  • Would the images be large parts of the signage, or smaller elements inside them?
  • Are these all intended for one sign, or different elements for different signs?
  • Do you have a mockup?

Dpi isn’t a size measurement; it’s just how large the image would display on a screen vs paper. The important part is the actual amount of pixels in the original images. 6000 x 4000, 2000 x 1500, etc.

Generally speaking, enlarging images beyond 100% resolution degrades the quality. Usually you can get away with enlarging them a bit.

There are some techniques one can use, depending on the final desired output.

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Items viewed at 10-30 feet can be as low as 50ppi. 75 would be better at the 10’ distance.
Also, how are you printing them.
If dye sub on fabric, 50 definitely works as you get a bit of dot gain. Not much, but enough to help. Obviously you want to keep any text vector.

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I’ve had great success with simply saving the image 10% bigger a few times. So, for instance, for 140%, you would do it four times like this.

This is a trick someone in the printing industry shared with me years ago.

Before Photoshop had Bi-cubic interpolation that method did produce ever so slightly better results. Slightly. Now it doesn’t matter so much. Do it in steps or all at once. The algorithm is as robust either way.

There were occasions when printing to LVT film then drum scanning produced better results too, but those days are long gone. My last vendor with an LVT unit retired it years ago. Not enough call to replace it.

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The strange thing about it is that I’ve always submitted billboards and large signage with place images as .svg with tiffs embedded. This company only uses the standard psd, eps, tiff, pdf, ai files.

I used the size enlarging Beta from the Adobe cloud version. They claim to be able to go to 200% but, like I wrote, i’s a Beta. I’ll let you all know how it turned out.

Bear in mind that Adobe doesn’t think any larger than a magazine spread.
200% of a small image that stays small, in their mind, looks great.
But given how great they think a gradient algorithm looks with its 8" limit, I wouldn’t hold your breath for spectacular results when going large.

If you are in the US, I bet you are very popular with your vendors with your svgs and embedded imagery… Images should be linked, not embedded.

I’ve avoided using .svg for anything other than relatively simple web graphics that can be easily tested before going live. It’s just not a robust enough format to rely on for anything else when there are better alternatives. Placing images into those .svg files just compounds an already tenuous situation.

I’m curious, why are you doing it this way? It’s a recipe for problems.

Ooph. I’ve had enough trouble with SVG when it’s appropriate (on-screen rendering in responsive layouts), that I’d never even consider it for anything else.

Yes, please do. If there’s an effective way to enlarge raster images without degrading the quality, well, this could be pretty useful.

I use a light weight app called PhotoZoom Pro 7 it’s amazing for all sorts of enlarging situations. supports multi platforms and is rather inexpensive. Made by BenVista software has 12 configurable logarithms for enlarging/reducing and altering resolution etc…

I don’t mean svg. I am having a mental block. It’s the one for large format printers.

I’m having a senior moment. I can’t remember the format I meant. It’s exclusively for large-format printers.

I’m actually just building it in Illustrator with embedded jpegs. (I don’t have to worry about image degeneration since it’s a one-off.)

There is no format exclusively for large format. Nope none.

If by any chance you mean .psb format (not talking .psd here, think b as in bloated) there are very very very few instances where that is acceptable. If you are using psb your are probably doing it wrong.

You best be following your vendor’s specs. Most do not want embedded images. Most don’t want PDFs.
Most do want critical colors as Pantone coated, text outlined and images linked not embedded.

You do have to worry about image degeneration. If those jpgs suck, they will suck bigger when enlarged.

Are you sure? I mean I could be having a false memory, but I could swear I was taught to save for large format specifically. I guess it could have been a preference that the print house we used wanted and I’m just 'membring wrong.

Am I sure? Uh, yeah.

What format were you “taught” to save in?
Like I said .psb is rare.
.psd and .tif are most common for placed images.
Most often the “large format” design is created in a layout program and submitted as native .ai or .indd, rarely PDF outside the online gang printers. There’s a whole section of broadcast industry that prints from tifs. Most often though it is Illustrator .ai, even though it isn’t at all suited to handling large imagery over 500mb. InDesign is better for most things, IMO, because of the low rez preview and the color control, but that too is up to the output house.

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I don’t remember then.

It’s done though so if you want to remove this thread it’s cool.

We don’t typically remove threads without a good reason. This one contains good information, so let’s leave it.

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Right on. I remembered that we used PDF not svg (derp.).

This was back in the day when Quark XPress was standard and we had to “Print to file” to save a PDF correctly. That’s what was throwing me off. It was just a false memory.

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