72 DPI vs. 300 DPI: A Guide for Digital Artists

You’ve probably seen the words DPI when starting a new project in your drawing app. If you’ve researched this subject, some artists suggest choosing 72 DPI, while others think 300 DPI is better.

Have you ever wondered what DPI means and why they’re important? DPI can make a big difference in how your art looks on screens and paper. 

Whether you’re working on digital sketches or planning to print your digital art, we’ll thoroughly explain the difference between 72 DPI and 300 DPI and help you decide what’s best for your art.

What is DPI?

DPI, or dots per inch, refers to the number of printed dots contained within one inch of an image. 

DPI is a metric commonly used in both the printing and art industries. The higher the DPI, the more detailed the image after you print it.

72 vs. 300 DPI: What’s The Difference?

Here is a table summarising the difference between 72 DPI and 300 DPI

Aspect72 DPI300 DPI
UsageCommonly used for web graphics and social mediaWidely used for print media
Image SizeGenerally smaller, ideal for fast loading of web pagesThe larger image size makes it suitable for high-quality prints and professional artwork
Quality on ScreenAppears clear and crisp on most screens with no pixelationIt may seem overly large or pixelated if not correctly adjusted.
Print SizeSmaller size compared to 300 DPIFour times the size compared to artwork printed on 72 DPI

What is 72 DPI?

72 DPI is commonly seen as the standard resolution for web images. Given that screen displays on computers, laptops, or tablets usually have around 72-96 pixels per inch (PPI), using 72-DPI images works well for online use.

If you’re seeing a high DPI image on your computer, it doesn’t necessarily lead to better visual quality. Because there is diminishing result of high DPI image showing on a screen with low PPI

Here’s a breakdown showing the relationship between image resolution and its corresponding printed image size at 72 DPI:

Image Resolution    Printed Image Size at 72 DPI
72 x 72 pixels1 x 1 inch
144 x 144 pixels2 x 2 inches
144 x 216 pixels2 x 3 inches
216 x 216 pixels3 x 3 inches
288 x 288 pixels 4 x 4 inches
288 x 432 pixels4 x 6 inches
360 x 360 pixels5 x 5 inches
576 x 864 pixels8 x 12 inches
720 x 1080 pixels10 x 15 inches

What is 300 DPI?

300 DPI is considered a high resolution and is typically used for print projects. 

300 DP is chosen as a print resolution for greater detail and clarity. The print result from a 300 DPI image will not appear pixelated or blurry when viewed up close

But you need to know that choosing 300 DPI will result in bigger printed artwork

Here’s a tablet explaining the relationship between image resolution and its corresponding printed image size at 300 DPI:

Image Resolution    Printed Image Size at 72 DPI
300 x 300 pixels1 x 1 inch
600 x 600 pixels2 x 2 inches
600 x 900 pixels2 x 3 inches
900 x 900 pixels3 x 3 inches
1200 x 1200 pixels4 x 4 inches
1200 x 1800 pixels4 x 6 inches
1500 x 1500 pixels5 x 5 inches
2400 x 3600 pixels8 x 12 inches
3000 x 4500 pixels10 x 15 inches

Why You Should Choose 300 DPI over 72 DPI as an Artist

However, the standard to choose 72 DPI for web images is now challenged. Most people use smartphones more than computers. 

92% of internet users are mobile users. Even budget smartphones have at least 200 PPI on their screen.

Many artists believe it’s better to choose 300 DPI because most smartphones and tablets have a PPI higher than 300. 

Choosing 72 DPI will result in blurry image quality compared to an image with 300 DPI when viewed on a smartphone and tablet.

Pros of Choosing 300 DPI over 72 DPI

  • Better art quality means better engagement if you promote your art on social media like Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.
  • Better print quality
  • You can easily downgrade your artwork to 72 DPI when needed.

Pros of Choosing 72 DPI over 300 DPI

Even though 72 DPI images have lesser detail than 300 DPI, it has its advantage. For example: 

  • 72 DPI is the standard DPI for images uploaded online
  • Images optimized at 72DPI have a lower size than 300 DPI images. It loads faster online, which is important if you want to showcase it on your website.
  • High-resolution images may not translate well on screens if not adjusted properly. 72 DPI is chosen because every device can easily present them
  • If you create digital art on 72 DPI canvas, it doesn’t strain your computer or laptop. You are less likely to face lags when creating and editing your art.
  • For iPad artists, using 72 DPI allows Procreate users to use more layers and higher resolution on their art.

Does DPI Matter for Digital Art

DPI does matter for digital art. Higher DPI will result in better print quality. If you’re a professional digital artist, always choose 300 DPI for your canvas settings. Choosing less than 300 DPI will result in lower quality when printing your artwork. 72 DPI is not preferred for professional digital art

Best DPI for Digital Art

Canvas DPI settings in Clip Studio Paint

For artists working in raster drawing apps like Krita, Procreate, Photoshop, or Clip Studio Paint, setting your canvas to 300 DPI is ideal. Here’s why:

  • Inkjet and laser printers operate best at 300 DPI. Printing a 72 DPI image will produce pixelated art.
  • When saving your art, the files will embed the DPI settings. 
  • If you wish to maintain a specific physical size for your art while ensuring it has the best possible detail, a higher DPI, like 300, is essential. For instance, a 10×10 inch piece will look much more refined at 300 DPI than at 72 DPI.

Can You Use 72 DPI and 300 DPI Interchangeably?

You can use 72 DPI and 300 DPI interchangeably. But to make your job easier, having two files of each image will be helpful. One is 72 DPI for online uses, while the other is 300 DPI for printing.

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Author
Kenny Houle
Hi, I’m Kenny. I’m a digital artist who began learning art at the age of 21. I enjoy drawing cartoons and fan art.

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