This guest article was written by Cassel.
What do those two have in common? More than you think!
There is often discussion in the digital scrapbooking world about resolution of elements in a kit; about the fact that quality checking has to make sure each element has a resolution of 300 ppi (pixels per inch). Unfortunately, this seems to stem from a misunderstanding of what “resolution” is.
In cross-stitching, whether you get a pattern printed on a tiny paper, or a wide paper, it does not change the number of stitches, right? Whether you stitch on a tightly woven canvas or a loose one, won’t change the number of stitches, right? It is because each stitch on the pattern has no size in itself. What the weave of the canvas will change is how big your final project will be, whether you will end up with a 4”x4” frame or a 12”x12” one.
In the digital world, it is the same thing. A pixel is a pixel and has no size in itself. A button that is 300 pixels wide will still be 300 pixels wide, whether it has a resolution of 300 ppi or 72 ppi. It means that if you manipulate a 300 pixels button on your layout, it will always be 300 pixels, and if you are working on a 3600 pixels project, the button will always be 1/12th of the size of the page.
One place it will make a difference is in the transfer from the computer to another medium, namely, the printer. If the element is printed at a resolution of 72 ppi, it means that my button will have 72 of its pixels printed in a one inch length (meaning my button will need almost 4 inches to get all the 300 pixels printed). But if it is printed at 300 ppi, all those 300 pixels will fit into one inch. You see the result? So the resolution will only be meaningful when you are talking about how you display those pixels on a piece of paper. What you see in your graphic program is mostly irrelevant since you can zoom in and out at will.
Why do we so often see the 72ppi? What is so special about that number? It is because that is the resolution for your monitor. Unlike printers, monitors can only squeeze 72 little dots in a one inch space. But we just said that a pixel is a pixel, no matter the resolution, right? Yes, a pixel is a pixel but if you display your 300 pixel button in your signature, on the screen, it will take 4 inches of monitor to display the same button that is ONE inch while printed. It is like cross-stitching on a much wider canvas and those 300 “stitches” will span much wider than on a tightly woven fabric.
This explains why “tagger” kits are so small; they don’t need 3600 pixels wide. On screen, that would mean 50 inches. That would definitely be an overkill! But a 1000 pixels wide paper would translate into just under 14 inches, which is probably close to the size of most monitors.
What happens if you have a button that is 72 ppi in a kit and you want to use it on your layout? If the button has 300 pixels in width it will still be 300 pixels wide and if the final setting of your layout is 300 ppi resolution, it will be printed as 1 inch wide at 300 ppi and will look just fine.
Look at the image above. Aren’t they both identical in size? Check with the properties, and you can see that one has a resolution of 72ppi and the other has a resolution of 300ppi. What does it tell you? A pixel is a pixel and when you are working in your graphic program, the 300 pixel button will look and behave the same whatever the resolution setting.
A 72ppi element is not a lesser quality than a 300ppi element if it has the same number of pixels. A pixel is a pixel and the resolution only means something when you need to display your work: on screen, you need 72ppi; on paper, you need 300ppi. And to work with them in your graphic program, it just does not matter!