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One of the advantages of processing digital photos yourself in Elements is that you can output your photos in many different sizes. You could make a large version to print and frame and also a very small version of the same photo to attach to an email. The topics of resizing and resolution go hand in hand. Understanding resolution and knowing how to resize your photos correctly will make sure that you don't compromise the quality of the photo when you change its size. I have opened here in my Full Edit workspace orchid.psd from the 09 Resizing subfolder of the Chapter 06 Exercise Files folder. The first thing I'd like to look at here is the current size of this photo. The place you go to do that is at the bottom of the document window, right here. This information field defaults to telling you the total file size of this image, which is the amount of space it will take up on your hard drive and that isn't the information that I want, so I'm going to go to this arrow to the right of the information filed, click and choose Document Dimensions instead. There actually is a lot of interesting information in this menu that you can check out on your own, so let's look at Document Dimensions.
Here we see that this image is a big one. It's 25 inches by 16 inches, when viewed at the current resolution, which is 72 PPI, which stands for Pixels Per Inch; that's the resolution. We'll talk more about resolution in just a moment. If you prefer to look at the size visually, you can do that using the virtual Rulers in Elements and those are accessed from the View menu at the top of the screen where I'm going now to choose Rulers and the Rulers are telling us that if this image were printed, it would print a 24 inches wide by 16 plus inches high.
The Rulers are now reporting the size in inches, but if I were sizing an image for the web, it would make more sense to view the Rulers in pixels. To change the units of measurement of the Rulers, you can double-click inside either one of the Rulers and that brings up the Preferences dialog box, Set to Units and Rulers Preferences. Here, you can go to the Rulers field, click the arrow and choose Pixels from the drop-down menu. Then click OK and you can see that the Rulers are now reporting in pixels. I'm going to go back to inches by double clicking and changing Rulers to inches and clicking OK.
In this case, the width of 25 inches and 16 inches to which the image is currently set is bigger than I want. Let me show you how I can resize this image to make it smaller. I'm going to go to the Image menu at the top of the screen and I'm going down to Resize and then over to Image Size. That opens the important Image Size dialog box. Take a look in the area where it says Document Size and you can see the width in inches of this image and the height in inches, and you also can see the resolution of 72 pixels per inch.
What does this resolution setting mean? Well, your computer measures and displays your image in pixels, which are small pieces of digitized color information, but a print is measured in inches not pixels. So when you are preparing an image for print, you have to divide the pixels in the digitized photo into inches. This resolution setting is just telling you how many pixels you are going to allocate to every inch when you do that division. Now if you leave this resolution set to 72 pixels per inch, and you try to print that way, it probably won't look very good. It maybe blurry or even pixelated because typically in Inkjet printer it needs more than 72 pixels per inch to do a good job. 72 pixels per inch is okay if you are planning to show a photo on screen. Say in a slide show or attached to email or on the web, but not for print.
Now each printer is different in exactly how many pixels per inch it expects. But if you are looking for a nice, easy to remember round number when you are preparing the resolution for print, 300 will do. So I'm going to change this resolution field to 300, but first I want to tell you that what we are looking at here, where resolution is set to 72 pixels per inch, is a common problem that you are likely to run into, because there are digital cameras that output images at 72 pixels per inch. So if you want to print a photo, please remember to keep an eye on the information box down here and if you notice that your image is 72 pixels per inch, do open this Image Size dialog box and change the resolution as I'm showing you how to do now. Before I actually type 300 pixels per inch in that field, there is something really important that I have to do, and that is to uncheck Resample Image.
Doing that, tells Elements to leave the total number of pixels in the file the same. See these numbers here at the top. They represent the actual number of pixels of Width and Height that are in this image, 1800 pixels by 1200 pixels. We don't want that to change. So with Resample Image unchecked, I can now type 300 in the Resolution field and if you look at the width and height in pixels, that is not changed. However, the width and height in inches has changed automatically. The dimensions are now 6 inches x 4 inches, because we've substituted a higher number in the formula for converting some pixels to inches. So now, we are going to take the total width of 1800 and divide it by 300 to get the total number of inches that we'll print. So that's how that works.
When I'm done changing the resolution, I can click OK and back in the image if you look at the Rulers, you'll see that indeed it is now going to print at 6 inches of width by 4 inches of height. The key to that whole process was unchecking the Resample check box before I change the resolution of the print. Now, what if you decided at this point that you wanted another copy of this image even smaller, one that might fit in your wallet. You know that you have to leave the resolution at around 300 pixels per inch, because you are going to print the image. But, you'd like the dimensions to be smaller, how do you do that? You go back to the Image menu and again you choose Resize Image Size.
This time in the Image Size dialog box, I'm going to go down to Resample Image and make sure that it's checked. Now take note again of the width and height in pixels. 1800 pixels across by 1200 down, but if I come down to the Document Size area, and change the width and height, watch what happens. I'm going to type 3 inches in the Width field and that automatically changes the Height field to be proportional. If you look back at the pixel dimensions, instead of 1800 pixels of width, we now have only 900, and instead of 1200 pixels of height, we now have only 600. Again, that's because I've changed this formula down here.
The Resolution has stayed at 300, but I changed the Width to 3 and if you divide 900 pixels by 3, you get a resolution of 300. So basically, what I've done here is to throw away some pixels in order to make a smaller copy of this file and that's okay as long as I'm working on a copy. One more thing, when I resize an image like this to make it smaller, the best thing to do is to come to the field labeled Bicubic and click there and make another choice, Bicubic Sharper. This tells Elements what formula to use when it throws away pixels to make this image smaller and when you are downsizing as I just did, the Bicubic Sharper formula works better and gives you a better result than the default Bicubic formula. So I'm going to choose that one.
Before I close this menu, let me tell you that if you happen to be making an image larger, which I don't recommend but if you are, then you want to choose Bicubic Smoother in this menu. So I'm going to choose Sharper and say OK. I just told you that I don't recommend that you make images bigger and there is a reason for that, because if you do make a digital image bigger, then you are basically telling the computer to make up image information and that won't always get you the best looking file. If you do decide to make an image bigger, I suggest you be conservative and not make it too much bigger. So Elements does give you the opportunity to resize your images. When you do, please remember to work on a copy and avoid making your images too much bigger and follow the steps that I outlined for you when you are trying to change either the image dimensions or the resolution of a photo.
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