What is this mythical “pixel” that all these crazy designers go nuts over? Is it a font? Is it a computer? Oh no, nothing of the like; and I am here to clear that up for all of you who are now sufficiently confused by my ramblings.
|Zoomed in image showing pixels, grid is for example.
Oh, the famous discussion of pixels… Lets start with what they are. Pixels are digital dots. Yes, that is right, little dots. They are what make up every single digital screen in existence. Most often, a pixel is made up of three little sections, a Red, a Green and a Blue (hence RGB “digital colour”).
You know what a pixel is, technically now, but what do we know about them? Well the most comment question I get is: “How big is a pixel?” And to that, there is no answer. A pixel’s size is not standardized at all. The size is dependant on the resolution of the screen (the number of pixels across and number of pixels high, ie. 1024×768; the most common computer screen resolution on the web). We call the relationship between the resolution (also called res, or rez) and number of pixels on the screen the “pixel density”. Simple, right? Now throw in DPI (dots per inch), and the NTSC and PAL pixel types–very confusing now.
Let’s clear the water. DPI, is essentially another word for the density of the pixels on a screen. A”dot” is the same things as “pixel”, we designers like to make this as confusing as possible, naturally. Now what is that “PAL” and “NTSC”? Well places such as North America use a NTSC standard for video (in this case, that means NTSC pixels are square). The PAL standard is usually used in Japan and Europe (They have rectangular pixels). What does that mean to most people? Nada. Things work pretty much the same because the different between the “square” pixel and the “rectangle” pixel is so little, you’d never see it.
|Size of a pixel on a 30 inch screen, zoomed in quite a bit. Let’s assume this is a HD, 1080p screen.
||Size of a pixel on a 15 inch screen, at the same zoom level as the 30 inch. A much smaller, or “high res” iamge can be made with these smaller pixels.
Now let’s talk 1080p. Chances are that you’ve all heard of this 720p/1080p mumbo-jumbo. Easily put, that number is the number of pixels the screen has height-wise. The width is implied by the attached label “HD” (HD implies that for every 9 pixels in the height, there are 16 pixels in width—aka a 16:9 ratio). The “p” is a bit outdated and was used to tell you how the pixels would load on the screen (either every other one (I.e. 720i – aka 720 interlaced) or all at once (720p – aka 720 progressive). Something to keep in mind about this is that when you look at a 42 inch TV that boasts a “wonderful picture due to the 1080p HD resolution”, you remember that the pixels on a huge screen are going to be much, much larger than on a smaller TV with the same resolution (smaller = better, the smaller they are, the more details can be seen).
Overall, as I am sure you’re noticing, there is a lot of confusing terms floating around pixels. I barely scratched the surface here (I didn’t even touch Mega Pixels). It’s pretty important in this day and age, especially as a designer, to understand pixels and digital imaging.
If you liked this sorta stuff, lemme know! if you didn’t, well still let me know.