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Resizing and resolution are two important topics that go hand-in-hand, so we will look at them both here. It's best to start the resizing process with the largest version of a photo that you have. It's fine to make a photo smaller but be cautious about making a photo bigger, because scaling up too much can cause a photo to look blurry or even pixelated. I'd like to resize this image to make a small print. So I'll go up to the Image menu and down to Resize and I will choose Image Size. There is lots of good information here in the Image Size dialog box.
This dialog box tells me a lot about the size of this photo. It displays its size in three ways. At the top it tells me the file size in terms of how much space this file will take up in my hard drive, a little over 6 megabytes. In the Pixel Dimensions section here, it tells me the dimensions of the photo, the width and height in pixels. Pixels is the unit of measurement that's used to describe a digital photo displayed on screen. Here in the Document Size section I see the size of the photo in inches if I were to print it out.
Since I'm resizing this particular image for print, this is the area that I'll work in, Document Size area. If I were resizing the image for the web or other on-screen display I would ignore this area and I would just change the number of pixels up here in the Pixel Dimensions area. But now to resize this image for print, the width and height fields here are telling me that if I were to print this file as is, it would print out at 18 inches wide by 12 inches high, and that's larger than the print that I want. So I want to reduce those numbers.
The number in the Resolution field which happens to be a 100 in this case, reports the number of pixels that will be allocated to every inch when and if this file is printed. This is telling me that to make the conversion between pixels on screen and inches on paper the total number of pixels in the file is going to be divided into chunks of 100, with each 100 pixel chunk being assigned to 1 inch. If you do the math, you'll see that 1800 pixels of width divided into chunks of 100, equals 18, so that's where 18 inches of width comes from, and if 1200 pixels of height were divided into chunks of 100, the result would be 12 inches.
I want to set the Resolution field to the number required to get the best quality print from the kind of printer that I'm going to be using. I am going to print this on a regular Desktop style Inkjet Printer. Most inkjet printers need somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 pixels in every inch to make a high quality print, so if I leave the Resolution field set to 100 pixels per inch, my print may look blurry or perhaps even pixelated. So I want to change the resolution, but before I change anything here it's very important to uncheck Resample Image.
Unchecking Resample Image tells Elements not to change the total number of pixels in the file. I want to keep the same number of pixels that I currently have, 1800 across and 1200 down, but just change the number of those pixels that will be assigned to every inch when the file is converted from pixels to inches. So I am going to go to the Resolution field, highlight 100 and type 300 over it, and look what happened. The total number of pixels across and down is the same 1800x1200, but the width and height in inches has been reduced.
Again, the math tells the story. I have told Elements to take this 1800 pixels in width and divide it into chunks of 300. 1800 divided by 300 gives me 6, and that's the number of inches of width at which the file will currently print. The same is true of height, 1200 pixels divided by 300 gives me a height of 4 inches. So that's the resolution that I want. Now that I've got that right, I want to work on the width and height some more. I don't want to print that 6 inches by 4 inches, in this case I'd like a print that's even smaller.
How can I get that? Well to keep the resolution the same while changing the width and height, I need to come down and actually resample the image. So I'll click in this Resample Image checkbox to add a check mark there. Then I will go to the width in inches field and I'll highlight 6 and type 3 instead, that automatically changed the height proportionately to 2. So now the file is going to print at 3 inches by 2 inches with a resolution of 300 pixels in every inch, and that's what I want.
Notice that doing it this way with Resample Image checked, tells Elements that I really do want to throw away some of this image information to make the file smaller. And you can see that if you come up to the file size here. Instead of taking up just over 6 megabytes on my disk, now the file will take up only 1.5 megabytes. And instead of there being 1800 pixels of width there is only 900 pixels, instead of 1200 pixels of height there's only 600 pixels now. I can't control exactly which pixels Elements is going to throw away, but I can specify a formula for Elements to use when it does that, and that's done down here in the menu at the bottom of this dialog box.
From that menu I'm going to choose Bicubic Sharper, which is the best formula for reducing the size of a photo. If I were enlarging this photo, although I try not to do that too much then I would choose Bicubic Smoother. I will go with best for reduction Bicubic Sharper, and now I'm done setting all of these fields for reducing the size of this print. Before I close this dialog box I want to remind you that if I were preparing this file to be displayed online, I wouldn't do any work down here in the Document Size area of this dialog box.
Instead I would go up to the Pixel Dimensions fields and fill those out. So let's say that I wanted to prepare a file for uploading to a photo sharing site and that site ask for files no wider than 200 pixels. I would just type 200 in the Pixel Dimensions Width field, the height would change proportionately, and that's all there would be to it. I wouldn't have to change the resolution down here because resolution in this dialog box is important only for printed files. Now to finish up resizing this image for print, I will click OK to close the Image Size dialog box and resize the file.
Now if I check the Document Information field at the bottom of the Document window, I can see that I have a file that's going to print at 3x2 inches with a resolution of 300 pixels per inch, just what I wanted. At this point I would save this copy of the file with a new name or a different location, so I don't save over the original, and I would go ahead and print my down-sized photo with the right amount of resolution for a good quality print. Now that you understand image resolution and how it impacts resizing an image, you're ready to resize your own photos without sacrificing image quality.
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