Set up Photoshop document for wallscape/billboard

Hello everyone,
I’m curious how do I set up a document ( artboard ) for big formats like wallscapes (printed) or billboards in Adobe Photoshop. If its resolution is for example 6m x 5m do I have to set the document in this dimensions or can I easily resize a letter sized document with 300 ppi to larger dimensions?

Any Billboard or Wallscape is to be viewed at a distance, so you can get away with lower resolution than for print, which is normally 300dpi. You should still be aiming for 120-150dpi.

With a PhotoShop document, any enlargement leads directly to a loss in quality. Your document is made up of pixels, and enlarging the document only enlarges the pixels. There are some ways in PhotoShop to lessen the damage, but these are limited.

If your job size is 6m x 5m and you are enlarging a Letter size document (215.9 x 279.4mm) that is a scale factor of around 2,300%. Your Letter size document is 300dpi that means your Billboard will be around 0.12 dpi if my maths is correct. I hope you can see that this is going to be very blurry on the billboard. Around one one hundredth of the correct resolution.

Better to start with a PhotoShop document that is the actual size, set to 120-150dpi (ask the printer if they need CMYK of RBG). Anything you import into that and enlarge will show how it will look when printed. Warning; this will be a big file.

Thank you very much.

For a billboard that is 6m x 5m, your resolution only needs to be 30ppi !!! at final size. I’m not joking.
Billboards are meant to be read at several meters away while traveling at 40-60mph or more. You have 3 seconds for someone to read your message. Keep it short.

If this is a wallcover, you want to shoot for your resolution to be somewhere between 50 and 75ppi at that size. Not 300. Not 150. Not even 100.

Gimme a minute on the math fpr your letter sized image.

Do NOT send anything that saves as a .psb. If you only have .psb or .tif as a save format, you are doing it wrong at this size.
Work in 1:10 @ 300ppi for billboard or 500 to 750ppi for a wall mural.
Don’t forget your bleeds. They are much larger for large format images. Depending on finishing, they can be as much as 6" all around (.6" in 1:10.)

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On the math, your aspect ratio is not 1 to 1 to start with, so you have to select the larger dimension and enlarge your imagery to that size (plus bleed) and crop a side Or both sides off to size.

Without bleed, you are enlarging at least 2315%. That means you are dividing your resolution by 23.15. So you’ll be around 13ppi without bleed. You might be able to rez up to 30 for a billboard, depending on the imagery. I would not recommend this image for a mural. You want to aim higher.

And if you are enlarging an 8.5 x 11 thing with text on it that is an image, just do it all over and keep the text vector in Photoshop at the correct resolution. Enlarging already rasterized text looks like garbage. Some large format printers will save you from yourself, but cheap online companies especially just load your art and push print. You get what you get. Other print vendors (like us, we do a lot of corporate wallcover stuff) might flag your art and ask you if this is what you really want. If we take the trouble to send a screenshot, you better check your art! Don’t rely on anyone downstream though. You are the professional.

I like to tell the story of a billboard for a realty agent I saw one day on the way to work. The designer obviously did not have a photo with the correct resolution to go to billboard size (most likely they were supplied a web photo.) So they decided to posterize it in photoshop. It looked so awful, like a huge paint by number, it made me laugh all the rest of the way to work. It was gone when I went home that night or I’d have snapped a photo. The fact that it was gone meant someone had to pay for the print, the install, the de-install, and the loss of the billboard rental. You can bet that person wasn’t the end client… :rofl:

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Also, are you setting this up for printing on a large-format printer?
You can send the document to your RIP and edit it there (tiling, color, bleeds) and
check with the installer if this is going to be printed on vinyl.

If they are printing this themselves, these questions are too elementary to take the printer out of the box, let alone ‘edit’ it in the rip… This is all preflight and proper file setup, not something a rip is going to fix. Especially if the image sucks or the file has to be rebuilt for text resolution.

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Ok. The big question for me was does it have to be 300ppi. With this answers I’m happy to go.

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Sometimes it is unavoidable, but if I am working on a large format project be it a billboard, trade show display or whatever, I try to do as much of the work as vector art as possible to keep the file size manageable.


You can keep the file size manageable with the right resolutions.

While you can do a mural solely in Photoshop, they are usually large imagery or background. Always use a layout software for insets and text if possible.

Billboard 30ppi final size (or a little more if you have it.) Keep text and logos vector. Use smart objects where necessary.

Wall mural minimum 50ppi final size if you are just doing imagery. If you have a mural that has any kind of text or smaller inset imagery you want to push 75 or a bit higher. A mural isn’t meant to be viewed at arms distance but sometimes that is how they are used so that is where you would use a layout program like InDesign or Illustrator to keep the text and any smaller imagery sharper than the actual background that is meant to be viewed from a distance. Don’t embed links though.

Tradeshow booth where corporate image matters, you want to aim for 150ppi at final size. 100ppi minimum for hero imagery. Same rule applies to smaller type and inset images noted above.

For Broadcast (say a podcast studio) depending on the purpose of the image you can go as low as 25ppi or as high as 150ppi. Often if it’s just background imagery you have to apply a blur to it too, so it doesn’t do horrible things on high def cameras.

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