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My images look awful in the final pdf. If I keep increasing the dpi, this doesn't help, and sometimes makes the image look worse. I understand that if I had a vectorized image it would solve my problem, but using Inkscape and outputting a *.png file is simple and guaranteed to work. The image below shows how the same file rendered in an image viewer vs. the pdf are very different. Notice how the red line disappears in the center.

Image resolution for this example was 440dpi.

enter image description here

Is there a package or option I should be using to get a better output? Is this the fault of the pdf viewer?

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Welcome to TeX.SX. –  Claudio Fiandrino Feb 5 '13 at 18:28
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Please check My pixel perfect picture gets blurry when compiled in LaTex, it might hold the answer. –  Martin Scharrer Feb 5 '13 at 22:22
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3 Answers

If you create the image with inkscape, then you have already a vector format. But if you save or export it to PNG, then you get a bitmap. Save it as PDF or EPS file instead to avoid the conversion to a bitmap.

If you are using pdfTeX in PDF mode or XeTeX, then use PDF. EPS file export can be used for latex+dvips.

Also there is an option to export the image area instead of the page area. This avoids large white margins and cropping via pdfcrop or other tools.

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Thanks for the tip, I have had bad results with the pdf export (colors are wrong, parts are missing, etc.) –  bradcarman Feb 5 '13 at 19:09
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I realized that the problem had to do with the image background and the pdf viewer. From Inkscape the default background is transparent, so those sections of the image viewed in Adobe Reader for some reason render poorly. If I changed my background to white in Inkscape using Document Properties, the result was much better.

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The resolution of the picture by itself is not meaningful. What you have to compare is resolution PLUS image dimension, either in pixel (you will be able to compute the natural length of the picture) or in length (so you can calculate the number of pixels).

Second remark; most of the good printers today will print at least at 600 dpi; a computer screen has a resolution of about 72 dpi... So a good looking picture on a screen could very fast mean a bad one on a printed version.

So, if you put this 2 remarks together: if you try to put a 220 px wide picture at 440 dpi, the natural size of your picture will be 0.5 inch. Assuming you display a 2 inches wide picture on the PDF, you will rescale your picture by a factor of 4... generally not a good idea for precision :-)

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