Help Please - my photos are printing pixelated!

Kristina Gale Kristina Gale 388 posts

I am trying to print 3 photos for a gallery show. They need to be 24×36. I went to our local photography store and they printed a preview of them for me and they are coming out pixelated!!!!

They told me that I would need to be using a 19mp camera in order to achieve a 24×36 print in good quality. But that just doesn’t make any sense. I see so much work on RB that prints to poster size and I know not everyone is using a 19mp camera.

I have a Canon Rebel xti, 10mp. Shouldn’t this camera be able to produce quality large prints????

Also, several of my works have sold through Rb at large sizes and there have been no complaints of pixelation.

This is one of the photos I need enlarged:

Here is a screen capture of what I am working with on this photo:

Any advice would be appreciated!

D Byrne D Byrne 2112 posts

If you have Photoshop you could go into Image and then Image size and adjust the document size. It might help but you’ll need to check the quality when enlarged plus sharpen after enlarging. It might be a bit of a jump for the size of the original file.

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts

at 300dpi the image would need to be 10800 pixels long to print at 36 inches. if you know someone who has Genuine Fractals (the industry standard interpolation software) you could try that. don’t know what software you’re actually using but have a look to see what it offers in terms of image enlargement. another option is Irfanview (freeware) which has a lanczos filter option for image enlargement, which is good quality – I’ve used it myself, and it’s pretty impressive.

good luck,


Kristina Gale Kristina Gale 388 posts

So then how is it possible that my photos are printing fine as is here on RB????

Steve – would it make a difference if it was at a lower dpi?

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts

inkjet printing seems to be more forgiving of stretching images than most processes from what I’ve seen – don’t ask me why, although it may be that the ink bleeds very slightly, reducing pixelation.
whichever way you look at it, to get the images to print at the size you need involves some form of interpolation/enlargement. Personally I prefer to get the image to the size required before passing it on for printing, that way you can at least get some idea of how the print will look beforehand. Try enlarging one to the required size and view it at both 100% and also at the print size – you can do this by switching on the rulers in the software and adjusting the magnification until an inch (on screen) is actually an inch long. As Drec says you’re probably going to need to resharpen the image after enlargement.
If you’ve got a half decent inkjet printer you could do some tests by just printing out a portion of the image at final size on photo paper.
Talking of inkjet printing it may be worth looking for somewhere where you could get giclee prints done as opposed to true photographs – they tend to need a lower dpi in the first place.

hope this is of some use!


InPort InPort 2942 posts


Try this:

If you have Photoshop open your archival file and …
1. Go to Image→Image Size,
2. In the Image Size box make sure the Resolution is set to 300ppi, the three little boxes at the bottom left are ticked, the Resample Image drop down menu to Bicubic, and
3. Increase the largest dimension in the Document Size section by 10% increments until you reach your desired output size.

To ensure the maximum image quality shoot RAW at the minimum possible ISO, do as much processing as possible to the RAW image, save an archival copy as psd, tif or png for your library for future use, eg: making larger prints.

GB and good luck.

frogpoo frogpoo 610 posts

@Kristina Gale

10 Megapixels is way more than you need to print at the size you want.
I just posted this an hour ago in another forum

When you change to 300 DPI you get an automatic increase in pixels
A 6” x 8” image at 300DPI is equivalent to 3200 pix by2400 pix.
I create all blank canvases at 6 inch by 8 inch at 300 DPI so I get a picture that is easily scaleable between 6×4,5×7,8×10 and 12×8.
When I take the image to the print shop there is no cropping,
What I see is what I get.
The DPI is not important to the final print.
The pixel resolution is.
If you use the above parameters and save to PNG all of your images will match the resolutions needed to post on RedBubble.
This resolution is not always suited to poster size.

When I want to make sure all images are at the same size Before I save
I set the crop tool to 6×8 inches at 300 dpi and make a final crop
This means that every PSD file I save is the same size,same resolution and same megabytes (read megapixels) of 12.5

GoTo preferences>Grid and Guidlines>change to inches
Use the grids to work with to ensure your images ‘fit’ into a standard size.
Grids can be turned on and off under the view tab.

To scale up and down,
open the file you want to scale.
create a blank canvas and set the size in inches ie: 10×8 “
select all the layers on the image file (6×8) and drag and drop to the new canvas
then using the selection tool scale the layers to fit the new canvas.
this keeps the DPI at 300 but increases the pixels proportionally.
You can use this method to scale up and down through the sizes with minimal distortion and almost no noticeable change in quality until you get up to A0 size

I have very successfully printed out for sale up to 24″ × 18″ prints without any pixelation or any discernable distortion.

Create a Blank Canvas at the inch size you want to print ie:-36″ × 24″
Drag and Drop the psd layers onto the new canvas.(use shift and hold shift down while you select all layers> then drag and drop)
Select the layer or layer and scale out to fit the new canvas
At 300 DPI this will automatically scale the pixels up to fit the new image size.
It will also create a very big file in megabytes (200+) if my memory is right.
Once you have done this use the magnifier and zoom in to 100% then 150 then 200 to see if any artefacts occur.
(I do this with an 8 bit setting not 24 bit like your original RAW file)
If at 100% you can’t see anything wrong with the image (SHOOT THE PRINTER GUY for talkng BS !!)
When you use the above methods it effectively increase the MEGAPIXELS and MEGABYTES (read much and much the same)
I use a FujiFilm 6 megapixel camera and scale up to the same size (36 × 24) without any issues.(at 8 bit)
I work in 12 megapixels all the time (read 12 megabytes)
I have no problem with artefacts unless I have had a dozy brain dead day and missed something.
Photoshop CS suites do not need third party add ins to achieve results.
Genuine Fractals doesn’t do anything that a proficient user of photoshop can’t do.

My experience with printing out from photoshop to a ‘Photograph’ is that depending on the print service,once you go pass 24 × 18″ you are not printing a “photograph”
Over 24 × 18 you are using different print methods and papers.
irrespective of that at the image size and pixels you are using I would not expect to see any signs of artefacts unless you made a mistake in the post processing or editing before you took it to the print shop.

My experince with “Professional” print shops is that 9 out of 10 do not either know how to set up their equipment properly,fail to set up their colour profiles,monitors and software frequently.I have a lot of first hand evidence to support this.
Shop around and get 6 × 4 inch prints or larger done at more than one shop until you find what you are looking for in service and quality.
IT IS NOT an easy process.!!
take all advice you get politely,BUT at the end of the day use Photoshop for all scaling,cropping and post processing,to a standard that leaves NO room for argument.This will also improve your own built in bullshit radar tenfold

Cheers Mike

frogpoo frogpoo 610 posts

I should also point out that belonging to the ‘Pixelated Prints’ group is ……,uhm ???

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts

“(I do this with an 8 bit setting not 24 bit like your original RAW file)”

8 bit is 24 bit (3 channels @ 8 bits each = 24)
RAW is usually 48 bit (16 bits per channel)

frogpoo frogpoo 610 posts

if you change theimage from 8 bit to 16 bit in photoshop you double the oixels
36 inch by 24inch at 8 bit is 222 megabytes at 16 bit its 440 megabytes with a corresponding increase in pixels.

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts

you don’t double the pixels – the file size increases because the amount of colour information increases – the pixel dimensions remain the same.
the extra colour information is why many (myself included) work in 48 bit even when the final published file will be 24 bit – it helps to reduce lost information during contrast adjustments etc., which can be seen in the histogram as vertical gaps (lost information).

Ben Herman Ben Herman 1091 posts

lols at all the confusion. sometimes best to talk to a professional at a pro printing store to get the right advice. Reading this you’ll get conflicting information.

prbimages prbimages 1884 posts

Ben: sometimes best to talk to a professional at a pro printing store to get the right advice.

Actually, professionals at pro printing stores often have very little idea what they are talking about, in my experience.

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts

over 30 years experience in professional photography and graphic reproduction, over 10 years of that almost exclusively digital – will that do? (I’m talking about me here).
I have to agree about many ‘professionals’ though – many don’t have even a basic grasp of digital, I suppose anyone can put ‘Pro’ above the door. maybe the key is to find a ‘real’ pro printer – one who provides a service to professional photographers, they often do so alongside a more general service.
Ben, there’s no confusion in my last post – just fact. When I try to help others who have a problem I try to make sure that my facts are accurate, and where it’s just my opinion, I try to make people aware of that too.
There’s a simple way to find out if what I say above is correct – all you need is editing software which can handle 16bit images.


Ben Herman Ben Herman 1091 posts

prb, maybe you’re talking to the lackeys? maybe not, but my experience has been good.

steve, no offense intended, just commenting at the different information that you get from individuals in a forum can be confusing. It wasn’t all about you.

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts

no offence taken Ben, and you’ve certainly got a point; I think the onus is on anyone who freely offers ‘advice’ to make sure it’s correct – otherwise what help is actually being given?



Kristina Gale Kristina Gale 388 posts

Wow! Thank you everyone for the replies! I have been silent for a few days in this thread but I sure have been reading and following the advice!

With all of your help and help from a photographer friend I was able to enlarge 12 printd that I need for 2 gallery shows I have coming up! :)

@Steve – I was unable to find anyone with Genuine Fractals but I did find a program called PhotozoomPro3. That is what I ended up using on several of the images. I pick them up from the photo store today so…. fingers crossed that the quality will be good!!!

@ Dennis – from this point forward I will always shoot in RAW (I have never done that before). Thank you fo rthe step by step on how to process them in PS.

And Mike _ thank you alsofor the detailed step by step. I am printing it out to keep at my work station so I can try and follow what you’ve suggested. It seems a bit in depth for me and my level of PS knowledge to date but maybe if I break it down and walk through it slowly it will make sense and become second nature. I hope!!!

Ben – the professional at my photo printing store told me that in order to get the size image I want I would need to use a 19mp camera! Luckily I knew enough to know this was BS. I was also trying to choose between photo paper and fine art paper (fine art paper is double the rpice). I asked the two guys at the store which was better for color/B/W and why and they both just looked at me and said “hmmm… uh….” then the owner said "Too bad that artist “so and so” isn’t here… he could tell you" ugh! Of course the obvious answer would be to go somewhere else but I live in a small town at the end of a 100 mile island. I have a drive of at least 40 miles to get anywhere that would even remotely offer me choices as far as finding a better photo store. That being said, if anyone is on Eastern Long Iland and can advise me of a printing lab that knows what they’re talking about I would appreciate it.

Steve Crompton Steve Crompton 360 posts


there are some useful tutorials produced by Peter Hill HERE

have a look at Peters work while you’re there – he clearly knows what he’s talking about.