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Photoshop is one of the world’s most powerful image editors, and it can be daunting to try to use skillfully. Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Photoshop from the Exercise Files tab.
In this exercise, I'm going to show you how to measure the size of your screen, believe it or not, the physical size of your screen. You need to do that. Then how to use those measurements to figure out your monitor's resolution, and then how to tell Photoshop what that monitor resolution is, so that this command right here is accurate, because right now it's totally inaccurate. It's absolutely random. The reason being, that Photoshop thinks the resolution of your screen is 72 pixels/inch, by default it thinks that. You can change it. Now, you'll sometimes hear that bandied about, that that's typical everyday, average screen resolution, 72 pixels /inch, and I'm here to tell you, if somebody who presumes to be a computer authority shares that little bit of information with you, then please do me a favor and ignore everything else they say because that is complete malarkey. There is no such thing as a 72-pixel/inch monitor. There was once upon a time. Back in 1984, they had the thing called the Macintosh computer. That was just a little box with a little screen in it; those things were 72 pixels/inch approximately. But ever since we've departed from that style of computer, which was a long time ago now, like a couple of decades ago, we have not had 72 pixel/inch monitors. We have much better monitors in fact, much higher resolution monitors than that. They tend to vary between 96 and 120 pixels/inch.
But you can figure out exactly what yours is pretty simply. So you start by getting yourself a ruler or a tape measure or some physical measuring device. Then I want you to measure the width of your screen; we're working in inches, those of you who are working in millimeters will have to interpolate this information, the width of your screen in inches is what we'll start with. When I say the screen, I mean the imageable area, the part of the screen that's showing you bright pixels. The dark stuff at the outside, don't measure that and do not measure the frame of the monitor, because that doesn't enter into our equation at all. Enter just the imageable area right there is what you want to measure.
Then measure the height value as well. We're just using the height as a backup, just for conformation's sake. Write those two values down on a piece of paper using a pen; is the best way, or if you prefer a pencil so you can erase, that's fine too, but get some good measurements. Now, I found out-- I'm working on an Apple Cinema display, even though its hooked up to a Windows Vista machine, and it works. Why not? And what I found is that the width of my screen is 19 1/ 2 inches and the height of my screen, the imageable area once again, is 12 1/ 8th inches and I want you to be accurate to the nearest eighth of an inch, if you will, for me.
All right. Then I'm going to collapse Photoshop. Make sure I've got a calculator open in the background. You'll need a calculator and you'll need some open screen real estate here just to right-click on. If you're working on the Mac, you may have a little monitor icon up there on the right side of the menu Bar, and click on that and you should see the height and width of your monitor in pixels, because now we've got the inch information, we need the pixel information. So if you can get it that way, that's great, otherwise you're going to have to go to your display settings, you can right-click some place in an empty portion of your screen to get the shortcut menu and choose Display Settings or something along those lines. Or if you are in Windows Vista, you have to choose Personalize. I don't know who in the world thought this was helping us out in order to create this weigh station that gets in our face on our way to going to Display Settings, and when you click on Display Settings, stays in screen.
So go into Display Settings right here. I can see that my Resolution is set up to 1280 by 800. Now, this is pretty low resolution for this monitor. Resolution, in core figures, this is a different kind of resolution, real resolution is so many pixels per inch or per millimeter or per some unit of measure; not just pixels per nothing, pixels per monitor is not a resolution, technically. But anyway, that's what they call it; they call it that on all the Operating Systems. Mine is set pretty low, that's because I'm recording video for you good people. The reason being, we don't want to take up your entire screen. I don't want to record the entire screen resolution I can, because it wouldn't play very fast, we'd have all kinds of problems. It might be too big to even be on your monitor, and it would hide everything that you've got going in the background. But you presumably are using the highest resolution available to your monitor. You ought to be. There is no reason to work lower. You can always make things bigger in other ways if you're having problems reading.
But anyway, let's say you're working at reasonable resolution like 1920 by 1200. So that's what I'm doing, let's say. You are trying to figure out the pixels/inch, and think about the way pixels/inch is written. Its pixels/inch, and that / is divided by, pixels divided by inch. So you need to take pixels and divide them using this little divider guy by inches. So in our case, in my calculator, I do 1920; we'll do the Width first, 1920 divided by, so pixels first divided by right there, 19.5 inches, equals, and then write this down, because this is your first resolution value, 98.46. All right. Now, you'll get a different value if you're working along with me and actually doing the work, you'll get a different resolution, that's fine. So 98.46. Now, I'll write that down on a piece of paper. Good! Then I'll figure out my Height, just as a conformation, just as a backup. 1200 pixels, so 1200 pixels. We start with pixels, which is the larger number too, so that's another way to remember that. You start with it. Divided by 12.125, and .125 is an eighth. Then I click equals, and then I get 98.96, really 98.97 pixels/inch. So let's round it off. Given the numbers we're getting here, I would say we round it upward, and we say 99 pixels/inch is the resolution of the monitor.
All right. Let's go to Photoshop. Here is how you make Photoshop aware of it. You go up to the Edit menu and you choose Preferences command. That would be Preferences under the Photoshop menu on the Mac. Then you choose Units & Rulers, and there is your guy right there, Screen Resolution. Notice its set to 72 improbable pixels/inch. Go ahead and change that to whatever your value is. As I say, it should be somewhere in the 96-120 range, most likely. Set it to 99 pixels/inch and click OK. Now, go up to the View menu and choose the Print Size command, and the image will grow larger. Now, why in the world did it grow larger? When we increase the Image Size Resolution and chose Print Size, the image grew smaller, but when we increase the screen resolution, we make the image bigger. Why does it happen? Well, because we've told Photoshop that we're actually packing more pixels on screen than it though we were. So we're closer to the final print resolution than it thought we were. So it needs to provide less compensation.
So it needs to zoom out less. So it makes the image bigger. So we have a higher Zoom ratio available to us. All right. Now, what you would do, just to make sure you got it right, what you would do is you would go ahead and really output this image. Go ahead and print it, and then bring that sheet of paper back to your screen and then compare the two. Make sure they're the same size. If they're not quite the same size, that's okay. I'm going to show you how to tweak things in the next exercise.
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