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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 this Exercise I'm going to show you how to change the Size and Resolution at which an image Prints. I'm working in the Flat Version of that full resolution file, which goes by the name Shepherd in big flock.tif, and just so we all remember what's going on here, I'm going to click on the I Button to bring up the Info panel, and you'll see that the image measures 11,916 pixels wide by 8000 pixels tall. That's a total of 95,500,000 pixels in change, which seems like enough for just about any purpose.
And the resolution is set to 1200 pixels per inch, which is absolutely overkill for commercial reproduction. Basically, when you bring an image into a commercial printer, the expectation is that you're providing somewhere in the order of 2 pixels wide by 2 pixels tall, so a total of four pixels for each and every halftone dot. The halftone dots being the tiny little dots that are used to commercially reproduce your artwork, and if you provide any more than that, then they all go away, is basically the idea.
If you provided a 1200 PPI file to a printer, then very likely, the printer's post script rip, the raster image processor is going to go ahead and automatically downsample it to 300 pixels per inch, so most of your pixels will have been wasted and you will have succeeded in providing an unnecessarily large file that was a pain in the neck to copy and download and open inside Photoshop or some other program and so on. Now I'll show you how to anticipate that, but for now, go ahead and hide the panel and let's take a look at what the image looks like in print.
I'm going to go up to the File menu and choose the Print command, and I'll see a Print Preview of this image on a vertically formatted letter-sized page, here in the States it might be an A-4 page unlike in other countries, but you don't want a horizontal image on a vertical page, if you're printing it locally, that is, if you're printing it in your home or office. If you're sending it off to a commercial printer, you don't care whether it fits on the page, because their pages are totally different, you don't have to worry about them, and we'll cover that in much more detail when we discuss printing in a future chapter.
But for now, just assuming I don't want any cropping to occur when I print the image, I'll go ahead and click on his guy on this side icon, which is the Landscape Setting and that gives us a horizontally oriented page. Now drop down here, to the Print Size Area and you can see that the width of the image is 9.93 inches, the height is 6.83 inches and the Print Resolution is 1200 pixels per inch. All right great, we knew that, now let's say for whatever reason, I want the image to be 12 inches wide, however tall it's got to be, and whatever resolution.
Now I could change that setting, the 12 inches, the print resolution is automatically going to drop down to 992 pixels per inch I'm seeing here. The problem is this. There's a little bit of a disconnect in Photoshop, the Print dialog box here is well aware of what happens inside the Image Size dialog box, but image size is not aware of print. So you can see where that might get you into trouble in the future. So it's best for you to size your image inside the Image Size dialog box. So I'm going to cancel out of here, and then I'm going to go onto the Image menu and I'm going to choose Image Size or press Ctrl+Alt+I, Command+Option+I on the Mac.
And there's my image. You can see that it is indeed 9.93 inches wide, 6.683 inches tall and so forth. I'm going to go ahead and change the width to 12 inches, now this time the resolution value didn't drop. It dropped to 992 pixels per inch, inside the Print dialog box, but it didn't drop here, and that's because, I have Resample Image turned on. So since I'm increasing the size of the image, I must therefore be Upsampling, which is absolutely unnecessary in this case, and sure enough, I'll see that my width has jumped from 11,900 and something pixels wide, to 14,400 pixels wide and 9692 pixels tall.
And if you do the math, that's a 139, 564,800 pixels inside of the Upsampled image, which is absolutely unnecessary. I'll go ahead and click OK, so that we can see what this looks like. And after it gets done resampling, you can see it will take a moment to happen, because Photoshop is trying to generate this enormous number of pixels. It's actually generating something on the order of 44 million pixels for us and now I'll press Ctrl+1 or Command+1 on the Mac to go ahead and zoom to 100% and I'll press and hold the H key and click and hold for that Birdseye option, and I'll drag around these two sheep that are talking to each other right there and I'll press Shift+Tab to hide my right side panels for a moment.
So this is the upsampled version of the sheep, so you know we're zoomed in on a detail here, and this is the original version of the sheep. We're looking at the sheep here at 100% too, they're not that different, and they're certainly not worth another 44 million pixels inside of our image, and if you were to take it very, very close look, you'll see that the upsampled image is slightly blurrier and a little bit gummier as well. So the detail is not in as good a shape, and yet the image is much, much, much larger. We're looking at an image that's about eight times as large as a photograph produced by the best Digital SLR in the market right now.
So Ctrl+Z or Command+Z to undo that modification, and I'll go ahead and press the H key again to get that Birdseye view, switched over to the sheep so that we can see him up close and personal. And then I'll go back to the Image menu and choose the Image Size command again. And this time, notice that I'm back to my original Image dimensions, because I undid the modification. This time I'm going to turn Resample Image off. When in doubt and all you're trying to do is size an image for print, turn resample image off, so you don't end up upsampling the image, and then go ahead and change that width value to 12 inches.
Now we can see that I still have tons of resolution, for some reason here in the Image Size dialog box it's 993, instead of 992 in the Print dialog box, but who cares. It's still huge. And in fact, if I were to take this resolution value down to 267, which is still a perfectly acceptable commercial print standard, then the width grows to more than 44 inches, so this Image could be almost 4 feet wide, if we wanted to, it's quite generous, in terms of its pixel count.
But let's go ahead and stick with 12 I think. So I'll go ahead and enter 12 inches and click OK. Now no change happens on screen, because we did not fundamentally change the pixels inside the image, rather we just changed a handful of settings. We changed the width, the height and the resolution, at which this image will print and nothing more. And just to prove that ourselves, I'll go up to the File menu and I'll choose the Print command or press Ctrl+P, Command+P once again, and then you'll see that the image measures 12 inches wide by more than 8 inches tall, and we have our Print Resolution of 993 pixels per inch, just as we saw in the Image Size dialog box.
The image is getting cropped at the sides. It's too big to fit the width of this piece of paper, but that's okay, because we're going to commercially reproduce it, and so our printer will take care of that for us. So we can safely cancel out of here. That is how you change the size and resolution at which your image will print. In the next exercise I'll show you how to Downsample an image for printing in Photoshop.
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