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Many creative projects start with a new blank file. Maybe you're making a poster for an event, designing a scrapbook page or coming up with graphics for a PowerPoint presentation or a web site. To make a new blank file, I am going to go up to the File menu and choose New and Blank File. Here in the New dialog box, I'll type a name for my new file. I like to use a meaningful name that I'll recognize later. So let's say I am making a postcard. That's what I'll type there. I don't have to bother typing the file format because when I save the image later, the file format will be automatically added to the file name.
Now, if you're not sure what to put in the rest of the fields, you can just use one of the presets that comes with Elements. From the Presets menu, I can choose the kind of document I am making; say Scrapbooking, and then in the Size menu I can get more specific about the size of the scrapbook page that I want. So let's say I choose 8 x 8. That sets all of the other fields here. I can just click OK and I'm ready to go. But the items in the Preset and Size menus are just suggestions.
They are not set in stone and they may not be relevant for you. For example, you may want a scrapbook page that's 8.5 x 11 rather than one of the preset sizes, and these suggestions in the Preset menu for photo probably aren't relevant for any of you because you're usually just going to open an existing photo rather than create a blank document in the size of the photo. So the upshot is, don't feel limited to these Presets. Instead, from the Preset menu you can always choose a generic preset like Default Photoshop Elements Size or Custom and then fill-in the fields of the New dialog box yourself.
So I'll choose Default Photoshop Elements Size and go from there. I'll start by picking a unit of measurement for the kind of document that I'm making. If I'm making a document for print, I'll leave this set to Inches, if I'm making a document for the web or for online presentation, I'll change to Pixels. But I very seldomly use any of these other choices. Since I'm making a postcard, I'll leave this set to Inches. Then I'll type-in the dimensions that I want. So I want this to be 5 inches wide and 3.5 inches high.
Next is Resolution. This is the hardest field to understand in this dialog box. Resolution here means the number of image pixels that would be assigned to each inch if this image were going to be printed. I'm usually printing to a Desktop Inkjet printer, kind of printer that you can buy in any store, and those kinds of printers generally need about 300 pixels per inch to make a good-looking print. If you're preparing a file to be printed at a store or a service bureau, you can try asking them what resolution their particular printer uses and enter that number here.
But usually 300 pixels per inch is a safe number to enter into this field when you're preparing an image for print. If you entered a much lower number here like 72 or 100, your print would likely be blurry. And if you entered a much higher number than 300, the file size on your computer, which is reported down here on the bottom-right of the dialog box would be unnecessarily high and your print wouldn't look any better than it would at 300 pixels per inch. Now, what if you're preparing an image for the web or for an onscreen presentation? Well, in that case, it doesn't matter what number you put in this field because your file will be measured not in inches but in pixels.
So it's okay to have 72 in this field, it's okay to have 300. The number doesn't matter when you're making a new file for web or screen. Then I'll go down to the Color mode field. I generally leave Color mode set to the Default of RGB Color. RGB color, not grayscale, is the best choice even if you're working with black-and-white photos because RGB gives you more tonal information to work with than grayscale does. Notice that there's no option here for CMYK Color which is the color mode often used in professional print design.
If you are preparing a document for a print service bureau that requires a CMYK file, ask them if you can give them an RGB file and have them converted to CMYK color for you, and they often will do that. The last field is Background Contents. This means the color of the single blank background layer that your file will start with. Your choice here isn't crucial because whatever you choose White, Background Color or Transparent, you can change later once the file is opened. Background Color refers to whatever color happens to be in your Background Color box over here before you start in the New dialog box.
Transparent means see-through. Transparent really isn't useful for print but it maybe your choice if you're making a nonrectangular graphic for use on the web. So I'll leave this set to White. After I've made all these choices, all that's left to do is click OK, and Elements creates a brand-new Blank document ready for me to add content. Do keep in mind that this document isn't yet saved to the hard-drive. So you want to save from time to time as you build out your image starting with a blank file
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