How to reduce the DPI of digital papers on iPad with Affinity Designer

If you’re loving digital planning, or just discovering it, and you at some point amassed some digital scrapbook papers, you might be wondering if you can use your collection of digital papers in your planner(s).

The answer is YES! But with a small caveat – ideally, you want to reduce the dpi, which means reducing the file size, of the papers before using them.

Digital scrapbook papers are traditionally saved at 300dpi for printing. That’s great for projects that get printed, but not so great for digital planning/journaling when the project isn’t going to get printed…because the more things you add to a digital planner/notebook, the larger the overall size of that planner/notebook gets, and the available space on your iPad can be quickly used up.

So how do you reduce the dpi, which reduces the file size, of digital scrapbook papers? And more importantly…without needing Photoshop?

Meet Affinity Designer (and Affinity Photo)

As someone who had used Photoshop for decades – and who had stubbornly refused to use newer versions because she didn’t want to pay monthly fees, ha – I was frustrated as the program slowly began really trying to force everyone onto the monthly subscriptions. I started looking into possible alternatives. And then I stumbled onto the Affinity stable of products, and I’ve been a very happy camper ever since. 🙂

Affinity makes programs called “Designer” (replacement for Illustrator), “Photo” (replacement for Photoshop), and “Publisher” (replacement for Indesign). I primarily use Affinity Designer, as that ended up being the best choice for me. Even though it’s a vector-based program, like Illustrator, I use it as my Photoshop replacement. Here are the main things I like about it: It’s as powerful as Photoshop; it does everything Photoshop does; it has an iPad app that’s the same as the desktop version; the interface between it & Photo & Publisher are all almost exactly the same, making working between all programs smooth & easy…and the best part? Each app/program only requires a single purchase!

Affinity Designer for iPad is only $19.99…a one-time purchase & it’s yours. The desktop version is $49.99 and it’s yours. Compare these to Photoshop’s price of $120 per year ($10/month) – they no longer have an option of buying the program outright – and if you want to use more than one program (say, Photoshop and Illustrator), the price is $6,000/year ($50/month)!

So yeah, price is a huge factor. Add to that the power of the Affinity programs, and they’re winners all around.

This all does mean that yes, in order to change the dpi of your digital papers on your iPad, you’ll need to buy an app…but if you’re at all into working with digital planning & creative projects, it’s definitely worth it.

(Affinity Photo can do the dpi change, too – the interface is almost exactly the same!)

(Procreate users: Designer is a bit more fully-featured than Procreate, but there are things Procreate does that Designer doesn’t…I have & love both. I’ll talk more eventually about Designer vs Procreate, but for this specific topic of changing dpi, Designer is the only way to go. Procreate doesn’t let you change the dpi of a file, sadly.)

So let’s change dpi on iPad!

How to change the dpi of digital papers in Affinity Designer

Here are the main steps to change dpi:

  1. Import a digital paper into Affinity Designer on your iPad,
  2. Click the top left file icon, choose “Resize,”
  3. At the bottom of the screen, see the DPI circle…tap it, type in the DPI you want to reduce to, tap OK, then look to the right of that bottom menu and tap the checkmark,
  4. Go back up to the top left file icon, tap it and choose “Export,”
  5. Choose “JPEG” as the format, then look in the middle for the “Filename” field and change the name as needed,
  6. At the bottom, where the “OK” button is…you can see the new file size there. Tap “OK” and then choose where to save the file.

And voila! DPI changed, file size reduced!

What resolution should I use?

So now that you know how to change the resolution, what resolution should you change it to?

Generally speaking, you’ll want to reduce your digital papers to 144dpi. Sometimes 72dpi works, too.

The very basic rules of thumb for resolutions are these:

  • 300dpi for printing
  • 144dpi for devices
  • 72dpi for desktops

Which resolution you should use for your papers will depend on the paper itself (design, colors, pattern, etc) and how you plan to use them in your digital planners/notebooks (which is why it’s SO handy to have an app on your iPad that can quickly change resolution…no needing to go back & forth with a desktop computer). Even though 144dpi is the general resolution that works with devices, 72dpi is often all you need, especially for smaller items (or items you plan to resize to be small).

You’ll just need to try different resolutions & see. Start with 144dpi, and then items you’ll use at smaller sizes, you can take those down to 72dpi (again – having the app there to do this quickly is so helpful).

I hope this info has been helpful, and that it gives you new ideas about what you can do with digital planning…and your digital scrapbook paper stash. 🙂