Do I need higher bit sizes?

  • Hi! I heard someone, somewhere say that one should use higher bit sizes for creating digital illustrations. I noticed that mine were set on 8 bit, so I upped the new ones to 16. But 32 is also available.

    What does this mean for digital painters? If my resolution is 300dpi, does it make any difference in the textural details of my drawing or painting? I have changed the dpi before and notice that it makes a difference in the level of detail available, but what does changing the bits do? Is there even a way to increase the bit size after the fact?

    I searched for information on the web, but everything I found was about downsizing the bits, not upsizing, and for photography, not digital painting. I'm just looking for ways to make my digital work look as traditional as possible. Thanks!

  • I was wondering about this too, glad you asked.

  • The 16bit vs 8bit discussion is mostly for photographers who work in raw camera mode and do a lot of editing and tweaking. For digital painters, the most that working in 16bit will probably do is increase your file size without any discernible difference in image quality. 8bit is more than enough to display all the color information your eyes are able to see. 16bit seems to be interesting only if you get color aberrations due to heavy editing.
    The dpi number is only relevant if you print. Anything below 300 dpi will not print sharp at the given image size (actually, 150dpi is acceptable if you have no other choice). The screen resolution is 72dpi, no matter what - so what you see on screen is always 72 dpi, even if you set the resolution to 300.
    In other words, if you need to print a book page say at 8.5 x 11 in, you should create the image at that size at 300 dpi. This will create an image which has a certain number of pixels (probably around 3000x4000 pixels). Changing the dpi without changing the number of pixels will not affect your image in any way - it just changes the way the print data are created and can result in a print that is not sharp.
    I`m not sure this is essence physical dimensions in cm or in make no sense for a digital image until that image needs to be printed - the dpi just tells the printer how many „pixels“ of your image to pack into an inch of space on the paper (the relationship between dots and pixels is not as obvious as this, but let´s simplify). The number of pixels in your image is your true and only limiting factor.

  • @smceccarelli Thanks, that was clear! I just want to make sure I get used to creating in a way that will eventually look as good as possible on paper. Also, I have a high definition pen display, so maybe that's why I can see the difference?

    Working in tiny pencil lines today! :-D