Print vs. Digital Signage Art Prep

Express Image August 04, 2016


Have you ever wondered why printed images compared to digital signage reproduction can vary significantly? Content for print media is different in many ways than content for digital digital signage. Also, content that is displayed on an outdoor LED sign is different than images and content that is displayed on an indoor digital sign. It is important for creatives, marketing and content developers to know how to handle these differences so they can provide the ultimate product resolution.



A common difference that comes up frequently with designers that are familiar with print media, however, are new to digital media is that CMYK(Blue, Red, Yellow and Black) should be used for print and RGB(Red, Green and Blue) should be used for digital media. With print media you are coloring the paper with ink hence, you should use CMYK since the ink will reflect light to produce certain colors. When utilizing digital signage, the displays are physically producing the light to create the colors and here they work in terms of Red, Green and Blue. When they are mixed together in equal values, RGB creates white light. When they are turned off, they create black.


Dots per inch(DPI) is a common term used in the print media. DPI measures the amount of data the file contains "per inch" of the printed page and is important because a print with 300 dots per inch is going to be of higher resolution than a printed piece with 72 dots per inch. DPI, however, means nothing when creating art for digital media since digital media is being displayed directly on a digital sign display with a set number of pixels that will not change. Creating content used for digital media with a high DPI only increases the files size, not the quality of the file resolution.

In very basic terms, resolution is the quality of the image. As the resolution goes up, the image becomes more clear, sharper and more defined. Monitors range in pixel resolution and are typically 1024 x 768 or higher(1024 pixels wide by 768 pixels high). Below is an example of a printed poster(left) compared to two different pixel resolution digital signs. As you can see on image #2 and #3 the color reproduction and resolution is significantly different from each other. As shown on the middle image, the screen is individually calibrated to the D65(6500k) CIE color standard - a feature lacking from many large format commercial LCD's on the market. These color setting produces a natural looking image which has a correlated color temperature to that of daylight.


Printed poster compared to digital signage



Different font sizes take up a certain number of pixels. It is important to size fonts correctly according to the size and pitch of the sign. The style of the font is equally important. Typically the thick and bold fonts are good for LED signs to maintain readability. The viewer distance is typically considered when selecting the font size and style, as well.

Both print and digital signage play an important role in a business' marketing strategy. Just as selecting an experienced and quality conscious printer is important, the same is needed when selecting a turnkey digital solutions provider.



We are an all-inclusive interactive digital display and print provider. We deliver immersive experiences, through digital and print place-based media solutions. From concept to completion, our custom software, hardware, design and wide array of in-house capabilities sets us apart from any other provider.

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