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When you're exporting your layouts to SWF or FLA, InDesign assumes that you have to have your images at 72 PPI. If your images are above this resolution, InDesign will downsample them to 72 PPI for you when you export. While this is helpful, Photoshop can do a much better job of compression on your images. Looking at our layout I have an image placed twice. On the left-hand side it is placed at 25%, and our right- hand side it's placed at 100%. Let's take a look at this if this was exported to SWF. In the SWF file, it might be hard for you to see, but the one on the left looks a little softer than the one on the right.
The reason is the image on the right was placed at 100%, and it took advantage of an undocumented feature inside InDesign called the JPEG Pass-Through filter. What that means is if an image is placed at 100% inside the InDesign layout, it will be passed through to a SWF or FLA file untouched. InDesign won't touch it at all, whereas the image on the left is a little softer, because InDesign had a downsampled it, whereas Photoshop has a stronger downsampling capabilities. Let's go back to InDesign. Now, if we want them ensure that our images are sharp as possible upon export, we want to have all of our images placed at 100% inside of InDesign layout.
Now that might be a lofty goal, but it's not realistic to expect designers to have their images always at 100% in their layouts, because sometimes you have to scale them up or down accordingly to figure your design. We're going to use a technique to ensure that our images are at 100%, regardless if we have them scaled up or down. The image on the left is at 25%. But in case you didn't know it was at 25%, I'm going to select the image and double-click my mouse to select it. Now, I can see in the scale percentage dialog that it is at 25%. I need to edit this file using Photoshop. So I am going to go over to my Links panel and go on the panel menu and choose Edit With > Photoshop CS5.
Inside Photoshop I'm going to go to Image > Image Size and I'm going to change its Pixel Dimensions from pixels to percent. Now I'm going to type in 25, because I know that I want to scale it down to 25% of its current size. For the Resample method I want to choose Bicubic Sharper, because that's best for reduction, and I'll click OK. Now that I've resampled it, I'm going to hit Save. Back in InDesign the image will have updated. Now when we would export to SWF or FLA, the image would pass through perfectly, and we wouldn't have to worry about it being softer.
If you really care about the quality of your images, be sure to use Photoshop to downsample your images so they're placed in your layout at 100%. This will ensure that they're untouched when you export to Flash.
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