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The Ultimate Custom Poster Printing Guide

Everything You Need to Know from Designing to Printing Posters


No matter how good your creative concepts are, it is the printing that gives justice to your designs. That is why it is important to set the correct resolution, colors, and format of your custom posters. This Ultimate Poster Printing Guide will help you put together the ultimate movie, concert, or any events poster you need.


Check our Movie Poster Background Vectors that you can use in making your own posters. These posters have different feel to it with minimal style you can enjoy adding more elements to make it more customized. Download these vectors through Tweets or Facebook Shares. Hope you like them!

Movie Poster Vector Backgrounds


Digital pictures are made up of tiny colored dots called pixels. The more dots in the picture, the higher the resolution; therefore, the larger pictures you can print. The maximum resolution of a digital camera is usually measured in millions of pixels called megapixels (MP).

Camera pictures are going to be bitmapped images, made of lots of individual pixels. To ensure your picture looks good when you print it full sized on a poster, it pays to do a little calculation.

Set your camera for the highest possible resolution. If you lower the resolution of a picture you can’t get high resolution prints of your photo.

Printers are still largely measuring print resolution in dots per inch (dpi); a dot is essentially a pixel. An old, low end fax machine might be 200 dots per inch; a laser printer might be 1,200 dots per inch. 300 dots per inch is usually considered an acceptable resolution for printing.

The 300 dpi rule is important for material that will be examined closely, but the further away people are while looking at your work, the less necessary it is to have high resolution images. The rule of thumb that I've seen in commercial printing is 100 dpi for every ten feet away you intend to view the picture.


Dot/inch - Pixel/inch

Conversion Table

1 dpi = 1 ppi

2 dpi = 2 ppi

3 dpi = 3 ppi

4 dpi = 4 ppi

5 dpi = 5 ppi

6 dpi = 6 ppi

7 dpi = 7 ppi

8 dpi = 8 ppi

9 dpi = 9 ppi

10 dpi = 10 ppi

11 dpi = 11 ppi

12 dpi = 12 ppi

13 dpi = 13 ppi

14 dpi = 14 ppi

15 dpi = 15 ppi

16 dpi = 16 ppi

17 dpi = 17 ppi

18 dpi = 18 ppi

19 dpi = 19 ppi

20 dpi = 20 ppi

21 dpi = 21 ppi

22 dpi = 22 ppi

23 dpi = 23 ppi

24 dpi = 24 ppi

25 dpi = 25 ppi

26 dpi = 26 ppi

27 dpi = 27 ppi

28 dpi = 28 ppi

29 dpi = 29 ppi

30 dpi = 30 ppi





CMYK or Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Key (black) are colors used in printing. These inks reflect the light on the substrate they are applied on. RGB (red, green, blue), on the other hand, are used in electronic devices as these absorb the light to display colors. CMYK inks are combined to create a gamut of colors. This said, you have to convert the color mode in your desktop or laptop from RGB to CMYK to get more precise color match of your poster layout to the printed copy.


Printing services accept design files that have been converted to CMYK. Check the color conversion table below from RGB to CMYK:




Color Name












































RGB to CMYK Conversion Table


Here is an example of the RGB image converted to CMYK. Notice how they differ in color:


Image in RGB format


CMYK image after conversion

Go to RGB2CMYK to convert your RGB images/photos to CMYK.

Here are steps on how to set up CMYK color mode in different designing programs:


1. In starting a new project, select CMYK for the color mode. If you’re working with an existing file, select the following menu options: Image—Mode—CMYK.

2. Check how your files are going to look by turning on the “CMYK preview” mode.

3. Do not make change color modes repeatedly because every time you switch, you lose image quality and multiple shifts will reflect on the clarity of your final design.


1. Select File—Document color mode—CMYK color.

2. Stick to CMYK and Grayscale color models.

3. When working with Pantone colors, make sure that you convert them into CMYK mode or leave them as spot colors to be able to print spot color inks.

Quark Express

1. Use the following menu options: Edit—Edit Colors—Show Colors in Use—Highlight Color and click Edit. Work around the “Edit Colors” dialog box.

2. Change model to CMYK and deselect Spot color. Use only CMYK model and Pantone coated model ink definitions.

3. Control carefully the colors to be separated into CMYK and which should remain as spot colors. It’s quite challenging to convert colors in Quark.

Be mindful that not all RGB colors can be converted to CMYK. This is because there are RGB colors that are out of the CMYK array. When this happens, the closest CMYK shade to that specific RGB color is used. (Make sure you give the CMYK converted file to your trusted printing company as these services normally don’t cover color conversion.)

Bulk or Large Format Posters

Advanced digital printers have enabled high quality printing of posters on different paper sizes. There used to be limited paper options produced on these machines, but now you can customize poster sizes from 8" x 8" to 120” x 59”. There are two types of digital poster printing — bulk and large format. Check the advisable process for your poster specs by checking our comparison table below:





Bulk Posters

Large Format Posters


50–100,000 pieces

1-50 pieces


Can print from 8.5" x 11" to 27" x 39"

Can print from 8" x 8" to 120” x 59”


100 lb. Paper Gloss
100 lb. Paper Matte
80 lb. Paper Gloss
10 pt. Cardstock Gloss
10 pt. Cardstock Matte

High Gloss


More affordable for large orders

More affordable for short run orders

Turnaround Time

1-3 Business days

1-3 Business days

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 There are two types of images based on file types

Bitmap images are made up of colored dots or pixels in a grid. Pixels are tiny dots of individual color that make up what you see on your screen. All these tiny dots of color create the images you see. It is also known as raster images. The resolution of raster images are dependent and resizing affects the image quality. An example of bitmap image is a scanned photo. Example of bitmap formats are .bmp, .jpeg and .psd.

Vector Images are composed of lines and shapes with different attributes such as color, fill and outline. These objects are defined by mathematical equations rather than pixels, so they always render at the highest quality. Its resolution is independent and scaling or resizing the images will not affect its quality or resolution. It has smaller file size but we don’t advise this file format for posters that serve as photo-realistic reproduction.

  These are the common file types used in poster printing.


File Extensions

Description/Program Used

.jpg or .jpeg

Standard format for photographic image compression developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group


Bitmap file created using Adobe Photoshop


Adobe Illustrator drawing or vector graphics file


Encapsulated postscript image file created using Adobe Illustrator; designed for high resolution printing of illustrations; standard file format for importing and exporting PostScript files


Corel Draw Vector drawing file


Tag Image File Format; preferred bitmap graphics format for high-resolution postscript printing


InDesign Document from Adobe Systems


Portable Document File from Adobe Acrobat


Document file associated with Microsoft Publisher



If you are planning to make a poster out of a photo, remember that the megapixels (1 megapixel = 1 million pixels) in your camera determine image clarity — more pixels, higher resolution. Meaning, there is also maximum print sizes you can achieve for given number of megapixels. This chart shows the Maximum print Sizes for Common Camera Megapixels

Poster Size

Mega Pixels

Minimum Resolution

11" x 14"

980x770 pixels

980x770 dpi

12" x 18"

1260x840 pixels

1260x840 dpi

16" x 20"

1400x1120 pixels

1400x1120 dpi

20" x 30"

2100x1400 pixels

2100x1400 dpi



Popular Sizes on Poster Printing

Bulk Posters

Mounted Posters

Large Format Posters

8.5" x 11"

16" x 20"

16" x 20"

11" x 17"

18" x 24"

18" x 24"

18" x 24"

20" x 30"

20" x 30"

19" x27"

22" x 28"

22" x 28"

24" x 36"

24" x 36"

24" x 36"

27" x 39"


27" x 36"



Paper type is important for posters because it defines the overall appearance of your prints. Posters are commonly glossy to make the design colors vibrant; the luster makes prints attractive even from afar. However, matte is a good choice if you want to use unconventional finish for posters.

Paper Types for Posters:

High Gloss

Has the widest color range for vibrant colors Too much glare - not advisable for locations with bright lighting conditions Shows fingerprints (but can easily be wiped off without ruining the print) 


Most popular type for posters Glossy paper with reduced gloss compared to UV or high gloss paper Fewer fingerprints smudges 


Has the least sheen among the three types Elegant finish No evident fingerprint smudges

We offer posters in standard and custom sizes on different kinds of paper stock. If you have questions or clarifications about custom poster printing or our other services, call us at 1-888-888-4211 or launch our live chat for assistance!

Image Sources:

Cmyk: Capsoul via wikimedia commons cc
Puppies: West Midlands Police via wikimedia commons cc
Dot/inch - Pixel/inch Conversion Table: endmemo
RGB to CMYK Conversion Table: rapidtables
Poster Size Mega Pixel Table:


For more information on custom poster printing, feel free to call our friendly customer support at 1-888-888-4211 or click the Live Chat Assistance button at the top of the page.

You can watch this video to Learn the Simple Ways to Print Posters at UPrinting!


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