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Photoshop Elements 8 for Mac Essential Training highlights the important features of this comprehensive image editing application. Photographer Jan Kabili shows how to use Photoshop Elements 8, along with its companion program, Bridge CS4, to organize and edit photos, build projects like web galleries and photo collages, and share photos with family and friends. Jan dives deep into the application's editing tools, which rival those of the full product, Photoshop, in their ability to take snapshots and turn them into great photos. Exercise files accompany the course.
After you've worked on an image in the Full Edit Workspace, you can output that image in many different sizes. You could make a large version to print and also a very small copy of the same image to attach to an email. Understanding resolution and knowing how to resize an image correctly will make sure that you don't compromise the quality of the image when you change its size. Here I have a photograph that I'd like to resize for output. The first step is to get a handle on the current size of the photo. To do that, I'm going to go down to the information area here at the bottom of the document window.
Currently, this is reporting the file size that this image will take up on disk. I'd like to see the dimensions of the image. So I'm going to click this arrow and then from the contextual menu, I am going to choose Document Dimensions, and now in the Document Information field, I learned that if I print this image now, it will print at a whopping 25 inches wide by 16 inches high. But there were only be 72 pixels in every inch, and that probably isn't enough to print well on an inkjet printer. I'll talk more about how to fix the resolution in just a minute, but before that, I want to show you another way to view the dimensions of this file, and that is using the rulers in Elements.
First, I'm going to zoom out, so that I can see the entire image by holding the Command key and tapping the Minus key on the keyboard. Now I am going to bring up the rulers by going up to the View menu at the top of the screen and choosing Rulers, or pressing the keyboard shortcut Shift+Command+R. The rulers are now reporting the size in inches, and you can see that they're showing that the file will print at about 25 inches by a little more than 16 inches, just as reported down here. Now let's just say that I was creating this image for use on the web. Then I would want these rulers to be measuring not in inches, but in pixels.
I could go into Preferences and change the preference for the rulers units of measurement there, but I can also do the same thing temporarily by moving to either one of the rulers, holding down the Ctrl key and clicking on the ruler or right-clicking on the ruler and choosing pixels from the contextual menu. And then if I want to go back to inches, I can do the same thing: Ctrl or right-clicking and choosing Inches. The current width and height, 25 inches by 16 inches, is larger than I would like this print to be.
So I am going to resize the image to make it smaller. To do that, I'm going to go up to the Image menu at the top of the screen and choose Resize and choose Image Size. That opens the Image Size dialog box. The Document Size section of this dialog box reports the current width and the current height in inches at a resolution of 72 pixels per inch. This Resolution field is very important when I'm preparing an image for print because my computer measures and displays the image in pixels which are small pieces of digitized color information, but my printer is looking for a print that's measured in inches, not pixels.
So I need to allocate the pixels in the digital file to the inches in the perspective print, and that's what the Resolution setting does here. It determines how many pixels will be allocated to each inch of the file that's to be printed. Now if I leave the Resolution set to 72 pixels per inch and I try to print on an inkjet printer, the print probably won't look very good. It will be blurry or even pixilated because typically, an inkjet printer needs more than 72 pixels per inch to make a good-looking print.
Each printer is different in exactly how many pixels it needs to make a good print, but if you're looking for a nice easy-to-remember round number, then when you're preparing a resolution for print, 300 pixels per inch will do. 72 pixels per inch is okay if you're planning to show a photo on screen like in a slideshow or attached to an email or on the web, but it's not enough for print. Before I change the Resolution field here to 300 pixels per inch, there is something really important I need to do and that's to go down to this box to the left of Resample Image and click there to disable the Resample Image command.
Doing this tells Elements to leave the total number of pixels in the file the same, or in computer speak, not to resample the pixels in the file. The number of pixels currently in the file is reported here in the Pixel Dimensions area. There are now 1800 pixels of width, and 1200 pixels of height in this file. I don't want those numbers to change. I just want to reallocate that same number of pixels among the inches of the file when it's printed. And that's why I unchecked Resample Image. Now I can type 300 in the Resolution field, and notice that doing that did not change the number of pixels of width and height in the image.
What it did do is automatically change the width and height of the document as it would be in inches when it's printed. The dimensions have been reduced to only 6 inches wide and 4 inches high, because I've substituted a higher number here in the Resolution field. Now I have told Elements to take this 1800 pixels in width and divide it by 300 to get the total number of inches across, which is 6. And I've told Elements to take the total height of 1200 pixels and divide that by 300 to get the total height of 4 inches.
The key to keeping 1800 pixels by 1200 pixels as the number of pixels in the file was to uncheck Resample Image. Now that I'm done with that task, changing the resolution to the proper one for my inkjet printer, I can click OK, and the file is resized to 6 inches by 4 inches confirmed by the rulers. Now let's imagine another scenario. What if I want another copy of this photo even smaller, one that might fit in my wallet? I know that I am going to have to leave the resolution at around 300 pixels per inch, because this is a file that I'm going to print on my inkjet printer.
But I would like the dimensions to be smaller than they currently are 6x4 inches at 300 pixels per inch. So I'm going to go back to the Image menu and again choose Resize and Image size. This time in the Image Size dialog box, I'm going to check Resample Image because I'm instructing Elements to resample or change the total number of pixels in the image, which are currently 1800x1200 pixels. Now if I come down to the Document Size area and I change the width or the height, the total number of pixels up here will change.
So instead of the width of 6 inches, I'm going to type in the Width field 3 inches, and that sets the height proportionately to 2 inches and notice that the width and height in pixels have now been reduced from 1800x1200 to only 900x600. So basically what I've done here is to tell Elements to throw away some pixels in order to make a smaller copy of this file. And that's okay as long as I'm going to save this as a copy. And one more thing, when I resize an image like this to make it smaller, I need to tell Elements what formula to use to throw pixels away.
I am going to go down to this menu at the bottom of the Image Size dialog box, and look at my choices. Here, I learn that the best method for file reduction is the Bicubic Sharper formula. So I'm going to select that. The Bicubic Sharper formula will keep the image looking as good and sharp as possible through the process of size reduction. If I were making an image bigger rather than smaller, I would choose, rather than Bicubic Sharper, Bicubic Smoother to get the best image quality upon resizing up. Having said that, I don't recommend that you make your images much bigger, because when you do that, Elements has to manufacture image information.
It's better to capture a photo or make a scan that's larger than you ever think you'll need, so that you never have to resize up. And if you do have to resize up, be conservative, and don't increase the size drastically. So now that I've made all these choices, I am going to click OK, and that creates another copy of the image that's 3 inches by 2 inches. At this point, I would save the image in a different location than the original, so I didn't save over the original and close it. So Elements does give you the opportunity to resize your images.
When you do, keep a couple of things in mind. Remember to save the resized image as a copy and to avoid making resized images too much larger than the original, and follow the steps that I've outlined for you here when you're trying to change either the image dimensions or the resolution of a photograph.
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