What is the good viewing distance to look at your art print, poster or painting?

What is the good viewing distance to look at your art print, poster or painting?

Articles > Knowledge > What is the good viewing distance to look at your art print, poster or painting?
26 May, 2022
To get the best experience you must view your art at optimum distance. Minimum Viewing Distance = Diagonal x 1.5 & Maximum Viewing Distance = Diagonal x 2

The human eye limitations

The human eye has a horizontal field of vision of 135 degrees and a vertical field of vision of just over 180 degrees. This affects the best viewing angle and, therefore, the minimum viewing distance at which a print of a certain size can be seen as an artwork instead of "in details."


The viewing distance is how far away the viewer's eyes are from the center of the print. It is calculated as a range that shows the closest and farthest distances that are best for viewing an image at a certain size.


This viewing distance is important for our art prints images because the Intentional Camera Movements (ICM) I use can hurt your eyes if you look at them too closely, and the lines are naturally softer than on traditional photographs.

I do think it's best to look at art print images from the optimum distance.


Below, I'll explain how to figure out the viewing distance and how it helps with enlargements, as well as how to figure out the minimum resolution that can be used for each size of print, so you can use it on your own photos.

You can be sure that your photos will look great when you enlarge them, as long as they are clear and free of grain.


How to figure out the best distance for viewing your prints

To calculate the optimum viewing distance range which fits the human eye's ideal viewing angle:

  1. Measure the Diagonal of the print from the bottom-left corner to the top-right corner,
  2. Minimum Viewing Distance = Diagonal x 1.5
  3. Maximum Viewing Distance = Diagonal x 2

This formula applies to prints, paintings, screens and so on...

For example, an image that is 20 by 30 inch (50 by 75 cm) has a Diagonal of 36 inches (90 cm).

  • Minimum Viewing Distance = 36” x 1.5 = 54” or 90 cm x 1.5 =135 cm
  • Maximum Viewing Distance = 36” x 2 = 72” or 90 cm x 2 =180 cm


  • The 20” x 30” (50 x 75 cm) print should be viewed from 54” to 72” (135cm to 180cm).
  • An 8” by 12” (20 x 30 cm) print should be viewed from 21.5” to 29” (54 to 72 cm).
  • A 40” by 60” (100 x 150cm) print should be viewed from 108” to 144” (270 to 360cm).

What is the good viewing distance for your art prints?

How the distance from the subject helps with enlargements

This recommended range of viewing distance frees you from the traditional 300 dots per inch (dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi) that defines the best print quality. This is because the farther away you are, the less resolution you will be able to see. So, you can lower the DPI without affecting the quality of viewing, as long as the room is big enough to let you look at the print from the minimum distance.


At the recommended minimum viewing distance, you won't be able to tell the difference between a print with 300dpi resolution and one with a lower resolution. Instead, you will see both of them as sharp and free of artifacts. Artifacts are things like grains, blurring, and pixelation that usually show up in enlargements and can make a print seem less good.


An astonishing fact is that technology is still at a point where professional cameras can't take pictures larger than 24.5 by 16.5 inches (61 by 40 cm) at 300 dpi.

There are only two ways to keep 300dpi after these print sizes:

Using an app that can resize photos without losing quality or by putting several photos together.


How to figure out which DPI is needed for a certain viewing distance

With viewing distances, there is a minimum DPI resolution that must be met or you will run into trouble. It is based on a constant value that shows how much detail a person can see, which is 3438 with inches and 8595 with cm.


So, here's how to figure out the minimum DPI resolution:

  • 3438 / Viewing Distance (in inches)
  • 8595 / Viewing Distance (in cm)

The tables below show the minimum and maximum viewing distances for common Fine Art print sizes, as well as the minimum DPI to stay above.


Width in
Height in
Viewing Distance

Viewing Distance

Minimum DPI
for Viewing Distance

12 8 22 29 159
18 12 33 43 106
24 16 43 58 80
30 20 54 72 64
36 24 65 87 53
60 40 108 144 32



Width in
Height in
Viewing Distance
Viewing Distance
Minimum DPI
for Viewing Distance
30 20 54 72 159
45 30 81 108 106
60 40 108 144 80
75 50 135 180 64
90 60 162 216 53
150 100 270 360 32


The minimum DPI for different viewing distances is just a guide. They are used in the business world to print the big posters you see on billboards, which are done on high-tech printers. I've read that the DPI can go all the way down to 1.

As far as you're concerned, it's best to stay above 200 dpi and as close to 300 dpi as you can. If you have to, 150 dpi is the least resolution you can use, but if you want a good photo, you should have it printed by a professional.


In brief, here's what's what

Distance has an effect on viewing, and each print size has a minimum and maximum range that should be kept in mind for the best viewing quality. I've given you a formula to figure out what those ranges are.
Viewing distance relaxes resolution requirements. As you move away from a print, you need less resolution to keep the same viewing quality.

To avoid printing problems, there is a minimum resolution that must be met. Stay on top of it. You know now hot to figure it out.
So, when you choose the print size, keep in mind the best viewing distances and always use the highest DPI you can, knowing that you can always go lower if you need to.


I hope this will help you get better results, whether you're looking at your own photos, or at a print you bought at our shop.

TrustPilot badge for Poppins Shop