One of the most common measurements that graphic designers, photographers, and digital artists use for their images is pixels per inch (PPI). While this is beneficial for anything you intend to post online, Illustrator users typically print their work, which is why drips per inch (DPI) is the more commonly associated measurement. So, is there a way to change your Illustrator settings from PPI to DPI and, if so, how?
In this article, we will walk you through four easy steps on how to change PPI to DPI and understand the crucial differences between them. As you progress through the guide, you’ll be able to alter your Illustrator image settings in a way that will guarantee you print the highest quality images possible every time.
Understand the Difference Between PPI and DPI
Before we get too into this guide, we need to start by establishing the difference between PPI and DPI to best explain how the idea of changing one to the other is a bit misguided.
While these two measurements are closely linked, PPI and DPI are not the same, despite often being used interchangeably. PPI is used to determine image size, as it represents the number of pixels present per inch within a designated print size, meaning your set image width and height. DPI, on the other hand, is closely linked to resolution and measures the dots printed in a linear inch.
The most crucial point to make here is that your Illustrator settings will solely be represented in PPI no matter what. You can alter your PPI settings to match a preferred DPI outcome, but DPI is solely a measurement of a physical printer resolution whereas PPI is a raster image resolution measurement.
The ratio of PPI to DPI is 1:1, so there is no need to convert your PPI measurements to match DPI, and there’s no specific setting on Illustrator you pick to switch PPI to DPI. So, if you need a DPI of 300 and already have a PPI of 300 set in your resolution, congratulations, you’re all set!
That being said, there are some settings and tips you might want to be aware of otherwise to ensure your printed Illustrator image doesn’t come out blurry, starting with setting your preferred PPI.
Know What Dimensions and Measurements You Need
The first step of setting your preferred PPI and guaranteeing any image prints with the highest quality is to know what measurements you need your image to adhere to. By this we mean image height, width, and resolution.
Image height and width is pretty straightforward. The only note we’ll make here is that these measurements should always be in inches or centimeters if you are printing an image, not pixels, which is best suited for images posted online. So, if you need your Illustrator business card to print at 2.5” x 3” then you’ll need to know this beforehand.
If you highly prioritize having the sharpest and most vibrant Illustrator images possible, then you’ll definitely want to know what resolution is best. The most common DPI for printed images is 300, which means you’ll want to set your Illustrator’s preferred PPI to 300. The more drops or pixels you have within an inch, the more detail you’ll applying to the image and the higher it’s overall resolution will be.
Of course, resolution and dimensions like height and width are independent of one another, so you’ll also want to confirm that your preferred resolution will also work well with your dimensions and ensure you aren’t left with a blurry or stretched result.
Set Preferred Resolution in Illustrator
The fastest and, arguably, easiest way to guarantee your Illustrator has the ideal PPI and, when printed, DPI is to actually set them yourself.
To do this, you’ll first need to open the “Effect” menu located in the top menu bar. From there, you’ll select the “Document Raster Effects Settings.”
Here, you will find all the settings you require for tailoring your Illustrator work to the right dimensions and measurements. Setting options include:
- Number of artboards
First step is alter the “Units” setting to inches or centimeters rather than the default points. Next, enter the height and width dimensions your Illustrator work requires.
The last step of the process is the most crucial. Underneath the “Advanced” settings, you’ll find “Raster Effects.” This setting is where you will enter your preferred PPI. Typically, the default is 72 PPI, which is significantly low and rarely provides a high-quality image. More often than not, Illustrator users will set this to 150, 200, or 300, but this largely depends on the DPI of the printer you intend to use.
Once you’ve entered everything and checked to ensure your dimensions and resolutions are correct, press the “OK” button to save your new settings.
Save and Print Your Work
By now, all of your Illustrator work should be adhering to your preferred PPI and set dimensions. The only thing that’s left to do is to save your work and print it out.
With this, you have two options. The first is to actually export the file, which is helpful if you intend to upload it elsewhere, like Adobe Photoshop, for additional edits. The second option is to go to “File,” select “Save As,” and then choose your preferred save format in the drop-down menu, whether this is a PDF, template, *AI, etc.
Once you have a printer-friendly PDF file saved and you are certain your other printer-friendly settings are correct (such as bleed), you can go ahead and print your Illustrator work.
It is a common misconception that DPI is a setting you need to turn on in Illustrator to ensure your work prints at the highest quality possible. Thankfully, this is a measurement that only occurs once you are printing. It is really PPI you will want to focus on the for the best resolution, which can easily be set in your “Effect” menu every time you start a new Illustrator piece, along with other necessary dimensions.