Best Canvas Size and Resolution for Digital Art Explained

The Best Canvas Size and Resolution for Digital Art: Explained

Sometimes, artists are confused about which canvas size and resolution for their digital art. Depending on the drawing app artists use, the answer can vary.

Selecting the appropriate size and resolution depends on the purpose of your artwork, whether it’s for online display, social media, or printing. Digital art requires careful consideration of several factors, including image resolution, aspect ratio, and file format.

Choosing both too small can lead to scaling issues later. Conversely, going too big can cause lag, especially on weaker systems.

This guide covers everything you need to know about canvas size and resolution, regardless of your drawing app – Procreate, Krita, Photoshop, Clip Studio Paint or any other.

The General Rule of Thumb

Procreate canvas size

If you need help deciding which canvas size to use, a good starting point for digital art is a minimum of 1500 pixels in length and 1000 pixels in width. 

Why is this the minimum? Because the most popular screen resolution on the internet is FHD, or 1920 by 1080. So, anything less than 1000 pixels will appear blurry on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.

You can adjust these dimensions based on your preferred landscape or portrait orientation. For landscape orientation, the larger size (1500 pixels) would be the width, while for portrait orientation, it would be the height.

Remember, this is just a starting point, not a rigid rule. Here are important points you must consider:

  • Think about the aspect ratio. Is your subject matter tall and slender, like a portrait? Consider a 4:3 ratio. Is it a sweeping landscape? A 16:9 ratio might be a better fit.
  • For online display, 1500 by 1000 pixels is golden. But if you aim to print large art, the resolution must be even higher. DPI (dots per inch) comes into play here.
  • Bigger brushes may need a larger canvas for smooth strokes. Different software handles scaling differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.

What is Canvas Size

Let’s get familiar first with some important terms related to digital art quality. When drawing in a drawing app like Procreate, CSP or Krita, the drawing and painting area is typically called canvas.

Some software calls it a document, but it means the same. Canvas incorporates everything as a file, including all layers, effects and brushes you have used on the document.

The canvas size is measured in pixels. Canvas size usually means the same as the resolution. 

But you can have different canvas sizes and image resolutions when you export your artwork to an image file like JPG or PNG.

The Resolution and Canvas Size I Always Use

I usually draw on a canvas with 1440 by 1440 pixels. I use this size because it’s a multiple of 120. You can divide 1920 and 1080 by 120 if you don’t know.

I usually set the DPI or PPI to 300. PPI doesn’t matter that much for most artists. But if you want to know more, check out 72 DPI vs. 300 DPI: A Guide for Digital Artists

PPI vs. DPI

Resolution is about the density of pixels in digital art, typically expressed in pixels per inch (PPI) or dots per inch (DPI). 

PPI refers to the number of pixels per inch in your digital canvas, which impacts the image clarity on screens. 

DPI is used for printed images and describes how many ink dots are placed on the print material within an inch.

Most digital artists work with a 300 PPI resolution, offering clear images deemed suitable for high-quality prints.

Optimizing Canvas Size for Different Platforms

Clip Studio Paint canvas size and resolution

Social Media Considerations

When creating digital art for social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, consider using a canvas size of a minimum of 2000 pixels on the long side and 1200 pixels on the short side. 

Here’s a quick reference table for recommended image sizes on social media:

Instagram:
For in-feed posts, use square images at 1080 x 1080 pixels. If you post portrait photos, keep them at 1080 x 1350 pixels, while landscape images should be at 1080 x 608 pixels. 

Instagram stories work best with an image size of 1080 x 1920 

Facebook:
For general posts, 1200 x 800 pixels is a safe bet. Facebook covers work best at 820 x 400 pixels, but you might consider doubling that size for the best quality.

Twitter:
Use an aspect ratio of 16:9 for tweets that stand out, with a minimum size of 800 x 400 pixels. However, 1600 x 900 pixels are recommended for better quality.

Pinterest:
Pins on Pinterest are most effective at a 2:3 aspect ratio, with a recommended canvas size of 1000 x 1500 pixels for standard pins to ensure your artwork is being seen at its best. 

Pinterest also allows 1000 x 1000 px for square pins and 1080 x 1920 px for idea pins.

Professional Printing Requirements

Use a higher resolution with the PPI set at 300 to ensure your digital art looks great when printed.

For example, a good starting point could be a 3000 x 2400 pixel canvas size. However, factors such as print size and quality of the printer you’ll use should also be considered.

To begin with, the canvas size should be based on the desired print size in inches or centimeters, such as A5, A4, or A3 paper sizes.

Here’s a quick reference for standard paper sizes:

  • A5: 5.8 x 8.3 in (14.8 x 21 cm)
  • A4: 8.3 x 11.7 in (21 x 29.7 cm)
  • A3: 11.7 x 16.5 in (29.7 x 42 cm)

Multiply the print size (in inches) by the resolution (in pixels per inch or PPI). For instance, to create a high-quality print for an A4-sized paper at 300 PPI, use the following formula:

Width: 8.3 in x 300 PPI = 2490 pixels Height: 11.7 in x 300 PPI = 3510 pixels

Generally, use a resolution of at least 300 PPI for print projects. This resolution ensures sharp and detailed images, especially for photo printing and canvas prints. 

Lower resolutions, such as 72 PPI, are more suitable for web or screen display but may appear pixelated when printed

Here’s a list of common print sizes and their corresponding pixel dimensions at 300 PPI:

  • 5″ x 7″ print: 1500 x 2100 pixels
  • 8″ x 10″ print: 2400 x 3000 pixels
  • 11″ x 14″ print: 3300 x 4200 pixels
  • 16″ x 20″ print: 4800 x 6000 pixels
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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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