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Real focus happens inside the camera's lens element. The sharpening features in Photoshop CS3 exaggerate the contrast along edges in a photograph to transform a well-focused image into an outstanding image. In Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images, Deke McClelland teaches a host of sharpening and noise reduction techniques, including using filters such as Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass, and Reduce Noise. The training teaches the essentials of sharpening, including what it does, why it's important, and how the filters function. Plus, the training covers Deke's recommended best practices, including the four distinct varieties of sharpening, which can be used independently or in combination with each other. Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images is about how to transform images from looking good to looking their absolute best. Exercise files accompany the course.
Alright, so here we are in the midst of the conventional sharpening workflow. The next step is to resample the image for print. So I now in the case of this image right here and by the way, I am working in a catch up document called Flattened holiday.TIFF that's found inside the 02_when_to_sharpen folder. If you are still working in your version of the document, that's fine, just keep working along. I just provide this so that people can catch up if they want to and you may recall that this the 2007, so last year version of my family holiday card right here.
I now need to sample it down so that it becomes four inches wide by seven inches tall. That's what I am going for. So I'll go up to the Image menu, and I'll choose the Image Size command or I can press Ctrl+Alt+I or Command+Option+I on the Mac in order to bring up the Image Size dialog box. Now the first thing that I want to do is I want to turn on the Resample Image checkbox. So make sure that's turned on. Also make sure that Constrain Proportions is turned on. We don't care about Scale Styles because we are working with a flattened version of the image so we don't have any layer styles but might as well leave it turned on too since it's a best practice.
Now I want to change all of these values: Width, Height and Resolution. So I am hard-pressed to know whether I am downsampling or upsampling. I was telling you that downsampling is good, contrary to what you might think. Downsampling is good because getting rid of pixels froces Photoshop to smooth away noise inside the image, to smooth away rough transitions. That ends up creating a cleaner version of the image whereas upsampling just adds unnecessary pixels. That adds pixels that don't do you any good; they are just weird transitional averaging pixels because Photoshop doesn't know any better; it can't invent detail out of whole cloth and as a result you get more complexity but you don't get more information.
So anyway, how do I know that I am going the right route? Well, go ahead and enter your values for starter. I know this one is to be four inches wide, seven inches tall and I also know that I want to print at a resolution of 360 pixels per inch. Now that's pretty high. The reason I am going a little high is because I've got text inside of my document. So any time you have high-contrast art work, whether it's graphic art of text, you want to go on the high side of your Resolution value. So I could even go higher than this if I want to but I'll stick with 360.
Now how do I know that I've downsampled or upsampled? I might have upsampled, never know. Well, you go up here to your Pixel Dimensions and you note the values. If the first value is lower than the second value, which it is in our case, then you are downsampling and that's a good thing. So it's 10.4 megabytes, that's what it's going to be. It was, before I brought the dialog box up, it was 18.5 megabytes, which is bigger, so I am downsampling. What if you look at it and you notice you are upsampling? For example, let's say I really want to print this at 12 inches wide and 21 inches tall, sort of almost a poster.
I still want to go with the resolution of 360 pixels per inch, that's my preference anyway. Then I look at the Pixel Dimensions and I see gosh, it's going to be 93.4 megabytes. Now that's really big, it used to be 18.5 megabytes, I'd say that it's upsample. Now you might think, wow! Almost 100 megabytes. That's going to be a great file, a super high resolution file. Not really- you are just adding a bunch of pixels. They are not doing you any good; they are meaningless pixels, so you are just adding complexity. If you see this happen, turned off the Resample Image checkbox so that you are not re-sampling, you are not changing the actual number of pixels inside the image.
Then enter your desired Width and Height values and it's going to tell you 'Hey, your resolution is only going to be 160 pixels per inch, buddy, that's the best I can do for you.' That's OK. That it is preferable to print low-resolution art work than to add a bunch of pixels that don't do you any good whatsoever. I have problems getting that across to people; a lot of people don't believe me. Do the work yourself. You are going to find out that those new pixels that you would create, if you raise that Resolution value are meaningless; they are just junk pixels. That's not what we want to do; we want to go ahead and take this value down.
I am going to go and turn the Resample Image checkbox back on, I'll take the Width value down to four inches, the Height value down to seven inches. I am going to raise the Resolution about to 360 pixels per inch and then I am going to click on OK in order to downsample the image and there it is. Now there was one option that I skipped there. I am going to undo that modification and bring that dialog box back up by pressing Ctrl+Alt+I or Command+Option+I on the a Mac. Let's enter those values again. 4, tab down here to 360, so we've got 4, 7, 360, we know we are downsampling.
What about our interpolation options? Should you be working with Bicubic, you definitely don't want Bilinear or Nearest Neighbor, those guys are bad for our purposes here. But do you want Bicubic, which is best for smooth gradients supposedly? Do you want to Bicubic Smoother, which is best for enlargement- but I am telling you, you never want to do that. You don't want to adjust enlarge for a print; you sometimes want to enlarge in order to make layers match each other but that's all. What do you want Bicubic Sharper, which is best for reduction, which is what we are going to do here. So naturally if you reading this and you believe Adobe, you would think I want Bicubic Sharper.
Of course, I want to sharpen the image anyway because I need to account for the downsampling, which introduce the softness, so this is the way to go. No, it's not the way to go. You want to work with best for smooth gradients. This is nuts, this is just utter and complete hogwash by the way. Bicubic Smoother is great if you have a very noisy image, and you want to get rid of the noise. Bicubic Sharper is great if you don't have any noise inside the image whatsoever and you don't anticipate applying any more sharpening to the image, which we are going to do, and actually sharpening the image manually is better way to work.
So let's just go away with what is the best option and what's the default option as well, it has nothing do with gradients, which is Bicubic. So those are the settings that I want you to apply, now go ahead and click on the OK button in order to resample the image once again and this is dramatically reduced version of the image actually. It's quite a bit smaller; it is now ready to print. The only thing that's left to do, given the conventional sharpening workflow, the only thing that's left to do is to apply some sharpening settings and we are going to do that in the next exercise.
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