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Photoshop is the world’s most powerful image editor, and it’s arguably the most complex, as well. Fortunately, nobody knows the program like award-winning book and video author Deke McClelland. Join Deke as he explores such indispensable Photoshop features as resolution, cropping, color correction, retouching, and layers. Gain expertise with real-world projects that make sense. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download Deke's free dekeKeys and color settings from the Exercise Files tab.
In a previous exercise, I was showing how you can up-sample an image in Photoshop. Essentially to smooth away those jagged pixel transitions you get with low-resolution imagery. But of course you also get these really blurry, gummy details that aren't worth the upsampling in a first-place and not worth the addition of all these pixels. So the question becomes, what are the better solutions? I am going to show you two solutions, one of which is very simple but relies on your suspension of disbelief to a certain extent.
The other is more elegant but demands that you buy another piece of software. That's well worth the purchase, I highly endorse it. So, let's say I am going to print this image very large. Now, the analogy I always make is you want to want to print the image on the side of a bus or on a billboard or something along those lines. This is how those guys typically do it. But I know that most of us aren't working on that kind of art. You might however, be printing an image very large so that you can frame it and mount it on the wall. That whole notion of needing 220 pixels per inch flies out the window for artwork that you view for more than a foot away.
So, all the resolution stuff that we have been talking about so far is for near viewing experiences: magazine work, book work, print work, anything that's somebody is going to hold in their hand. However, if you're mounting it on a wall and you are backing up 3 or 4 feet away. Then those pixels get smaller and smaller and smaller. It's just like having a higher resolution monitor or something along those lines. To give you an idea, my favorite story where this is concerned is that I was working with this guy who was doing background artwork for the re-release of the original Star Wars trilogy.
He was doing some background art and he sent me a piece of artwork that was 2000 pixels wide. Now, to give you a sense which if I go the Image menu and choose the Image Size command. We can see that this image is 7000 pixels wide. So, what he gave me was just 2000 pixels wide and it was beautiful. So, I wanted the original version of the image in order to put it in the book. He told me well this is it. This 2000 pixel version of the images is it. I said, but you are going to show it on this enormous screen in a movie theater. He said, yes but that's as many pixels as 70 mm film can resolve which is the way I think she used to work back then.
Besides, nobody gets that close to the screen. So, to you it looks perfectly great from a distance away. That is ultimately the moral of the story. So, for example what I would do in this case is I would turn off Resample Image, because what's the point of adding pixels if you can't see them. Change the Width value to 60 inches -- in my case, the Height value jumps up to 24 inches or more than 2 feet. The Resolution value drops down to 116 2/3 pixels/inch. I don't care.
Assuming that I am going to be 3 to 4 feet away from that piece of artwork. Then this is going to look just as good as 300 pixel/inch our workup close. Then click OK to accept that. Now, if you don't believe me. What I suggest you do is go ahead and print one big image without upsampling and another big image with upsampling. Have somebody else put them on the walls. So, you don't know which is which. Stand about 3 to 4 feet away and decide which is the better-looking image. If you can't tell the difference. Why, then upsampling isn't doing you any good.
You don't need those pixels. If you can tell the difference, why then go with upsampling. All right, my second solution is to up- sample better using a piece of software that approaches the problem much differently than Photoshop does. So, I am going to switch to Bicubic (default).tif which is my low-resolution version of the image. It's kind of comical that I would go up to the Image menu and choose the Image Size command and change the Width of this artwork to 60 inches. Because, now the Resolution drops to 30 pixels/inch. For distant artwork, I have gone as low as the high 50s where Resolution is concerned.
However, I'm not sure I'd go this way. So, anyway cancel out. What do you do, if you just absolutely need to up-sample the image. By then, you check out this piece of software here, Genuine Fractals. It's available from On One Software. This is their website right there, ononesoftware.com. It cost nearly 160 bucks for the full version. But if this is the kind of stuff you do on a regular basis, it's well worth it. Let me show you how it works. It's really simple. I'll go ahead and switch back to Photoshop after you install the product.
They have a 30-day demo running right now. So, you can go to the File>Automate and then you choose Genuine Fractals Professional Edition. That brings up this window here. You have a big zoomable view of your artwork just like you do inside of Photoshop. Then you've got your Pixel Dimensions and your Document Size. It looks a heck of a lot like the controls inside the Image Size dialog box. The difference is the way in which you up-sample. Notice that you are not given a bunch of Bicubic options because it doesn't use Bicubic interpolation. It instead, uses Fractal interpolation.
So, I'm going to go ahead and change this Resolution value to 400 pixels/inch. Then if I press the Tab key. I can actually preview the results right here. They look pretty darn good. As you can see, it's still kind of gumming out the details a little bit. But it's drawing some very exacting contours. So, it's essentially redrawing the image by analyzing shape areas. Just to give you a sense of how it fares. I am going to click the Cancel button. Because I've already done it in advance. Here is the up-sampled version of the image.
They up-sampled just once inside of Photoshop using Bicubic Smoother. Here is the result of the multi-pass up-sampling. And here's the result that I got out of Genuine Fractals. Now, I am using a demo version. So, I've got these little on one logos here. But otherwise check out that detail. It's not as good as the actual capture detail albeit. But it's not bad for making a pixels out of thin air. That my friends, wraps up our look at Image Size and Resolution inside Photoshop.
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