Pixelation Problems : The Sign of an Amateur

If your design is pixelated you aren't professional

There are a few tale tale signs that show a graphic designer's proficiency and experience. One of the easiest problems to notice is pixelation.

Pixels are the tiny dots that make up pictures on computer screens. Each pixel has 3 colored dots (red, green and blue). Most monitors run at resolutions of 1024 x 768 and it displays images at 72 DPI which is an hard thing to equate, but it refers to the inter-dot spacing of the monitor. Whatever the case, web graphics are created at 72 DPI while print ready graphics are made at 300DPI or more.


So, what is the pixelation I am referring too? Well I'm talking about a graphic artist using a graphic that is small and then scaling it up so large that the image creates noticeable pixelation. The pixelation appears when blurring, artifacts or jaggedness enter into the image. THe pixelation is caused by a lack of information in the image.

You can always scale an image down, but you can't scale an image up without degradation. There is only one exception an that is with vector images (ai, eps, csv). Any raster image will degrade if it is scaled up. Programs like Photoshop will allow you to scale an image up, but in order to accomplish this task it will compensate for missing data by replicating existing data. The end result is jaggies, blurring etc. In the end, all you have is an image that looks unprofessional.

How do professionals overcome this obstacle? There are a few tricks that will work. The easiest way to beat this problem is just to avoid situation that create it. Use high-resolution images to work with. There might be instances when you can't use an image because it is too small. Some times you will be face with a client only supplying small image files for logos and such. Most of the time I will just recreate the logo using the pen tool and scrounging around for fonts. This might seem tedious, but the end result is a piece of work that looks professional. It may sound painstaking to spend that extra time recreating a logo from scratch, but if a client is happy with your work then chances are you'll get additional work that will pay for your up front work.

If you are serious about designing then going that extra mile to complete a great piece shouldn't be that big of a deal.

  • Use High-resolution Images to work with
  • Use Vector Graphics whenever possible: .AI, .EPS etc
  • Avoid scaling images up / if necessary do so in moderation
  • Don't be afraid to recreate small logos using vector tools

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