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Saving Retina display graphics

From: Photoshop CS6 for Web Design

Video: Saving Retina display graphics

Creating graphics for high-pixel-density displays like Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S can be a tricky process. These screens are oftentimes double the resolution of others and rely heavily on a high number of pixels per inch, or PPI, in order to look so crisp and clean. As designers we must be ready for this shift, because now with Apple releasing Retina display computers, the days of designing for one resolution are gone. The problem here is that while we have to account for the new high-resolution displays, we can't forget about the people who don't have them. There are still millions of people who are using older, smaller monitors, or who don't own products like an iPhone or an iPad.

Saving Retina display graphics

Creating graphics for high-pixel-density displays like Apple's iPhone 4 and 4S can be a tricky process. These screens are oftentimes double the resolution of others and rely heavily on a high number of pixels per inch, or PPI, in order to look so crisp and clean. As designers we must be ready for this shift, because now with Apple releasing Retina display computers, the days of designing for one resolution are gone. The problem here is that while we have to account for the new high-resolution displays, we can't forget about the people who don't have them. There are still millions of people who are using older, smaller monitors, or who don't own products like an iPhone or an iPad.

So we have to take care of these people too. The solution here is to work closely with your developer and understand exactly what they need to deliver images to all of the devices and screens. If you're already a web designer and you know how to take your images from Photoshop and turn them into code, what you'll have to do is utilize something called CSS media queries in order to deliver the right graphics to the right screen based on certain criteria. When you're designing mobile applications for iOS, for example, you'll need to provide two sets of images: one for the standard display found in the older iOS devices, and one set of images for the new Retina Display.

These image sets are usually referred to as either 1x or 2x. You see, when Apple released about the Retina display for the iPhone 4, they did something very smart in my opinion. They made the resolution exactly double that of the original iPhone, and therefore we must create graphics that are exactly double, or 2x, the size of our originals. The key here is to use vector images when and if possible. In Photoshop, this means relying heavily on text and shape layers as well as layer styles to do most of our design work. All of these things scale without losing quality, whereas photographs and filters don't necessarily do so well.

If you find something that can't be done in a scalable way inside of Photoshop, consider doing it in another program like Illustrator or Fireworks. Both Illustrator and Fireworks are vector drawing programs and lend themselves more to flexible, scalable designs than Photoshop ever could. Even though Apple promotes the Retina display has a higher PPI, or Pixels Per Inch, ratio, the resolution of your files really doesn't matter. In fact, iOS devices ignore the PPI settings in images altogether. So you just have to make sure that you get the dimensions right for each device and then scale it up accordingly.

Here's my suggestion. Start by designing your projects at 1x, or the standard resolution for the original screen. In the case of the iPhone this means designing at 320 x 480. Make sure you enable Snap To Grid as well, by going up to the View menu, choosing Snap To, and selecting Grid. As long as you design your artwork using vector components, when it's time to export it out, you should be able to scale up your artwork to 200% without losing quality, thus creating a "2x" graphic, which would be perfect for a Retina display. Let's take look.

Here I have a Splash screen for an app that I'm working on called Happy Bot, and the Happy Bot design that I've been working on here is actually set to 320 x 480. If I go into the Image Size dialog box, you can see that the Width is 320. The Height is 480. Now what I want to be able to do is deliver this at one 1x, which is where it is right now, and also at 2x for the Retina display iPhone 4 and 4S. So in order to do that, what I need to do is I need to go up to the Image menu, choose Image Size, and then right here in the Pixel Dimensions at the top, I need to change this from Pixels to Percent. And then simply enter in 200 and you notice there that it automatically adjust the other one as well, and I'll hit OK.

Now when I do that, you're not going to notice any quality loss in the image. I'm still viewing it at 100%, and all the edges look crisp and clean. The text looks nice. The Background is okay. So are the clouds. Why is that? It's because I've used vector images for this design. You can see I've got a vector shape for the clouds right here. The robot is an Illustrator file that I placed into the document, so I actually created this in Illustrator first and then placed it into the file. And the text is just standard vector text. All text inside of Photoshop is vector. So when I went to scale this up to 200%, there were no real pixels being scaled, so I didn't lose any quality.

If I had any of this stuff rasterized or I'd used any bitmap images inside of this design, when I doubled the size, I would have gotten artifacts and just--it would have been a mess. So, what do you do if you've to use bitmap images, like photographs for instance? Well, you start big and then go small. So start at a higher size and then work your way back down. Always scale down when it comes to pixel-based images; never scale up. It's going to be kind of a tricky thing and we're still in the very beginning of this whole process of Retina displays. But I wanted to give you an idea of exactly how to start designing for these things now, so that you have a leg up when the time comes later on down the road.

Now, as far as exporting these things out, it's just as simple as saving a regular document for the web. You go to File > Save for Web. And in this case, I've got the 640 x 960 image open here. I would save this out and call it whatever I'm going to call it and then at the end of it I would append the 2x to it. Same holds true for when I shrink it down, which I'll do here in the Image Size. I'll type in 320 x 480, and I would save this out as whatever I wanted to call it and append a 1x to the end.

That way when I hand this off to a developer or if I'm utilizing media queries or something like that in CSS, it's easier for me to tell which graphic to deliver based on the 1x or 2x extension that I've added. So hopefully by now you have a better understanding of exactly how Retina display graphics work and how you can optimize and work with those types of images here inside of Photoshop.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS6 for Web Design
Photoshop CS6 for Web Design

75 video lessons · 49178 viewers

Justin Seeley
Author

 
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  1. 1m 9s
    1. Welcome
      48s
    2. Using the exercise files
      21s
  2. 25m 50s
    1. Designing for screens
      1m 8s
    2. Decoding screen size and resolution
      3m 9s
    3. Exploring the PSD-to-HTML workflow
      2m 25s
    4. Setting up Photoshop for web work
      5m 29s
    5. Creating a new document for web
      2m 36s
    6. Creating a new document for mobile
      4m 24s
    7. Setting up a responsive web layout
      3m 31s
    8. Creating email newsletter documents
      3m 8s
  3. 20m 39s
    1. Adjusting color settings
      4m 13s
    2. Understanding web color
      4m 0s
    3. Creating a color palette
      4m 56s
    4. Creating custom swatches
      3m 34s
    5. Applying color to shapes and graphics
      3m 56s
  4. 20m 36s
    1. Exploring the Layers panel
      4m 9s
    2. Renaming and grouping layers
      7m 19s
    3. Searching and filtering layers
      3m 11s
    4. Using layer comps effectively
      3m 4s
    5. Using automatic layer selection
      2m 53s
  5. 29m 2s
    1. Using vector shapes vs. pixel shapes
      3m 31s
    2. Creating vector shapes
      5m 2s
    3. Working with fills and strokes
      4m 36s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      7m 47s
    5. Importing images
      3m 57s
    6. Cropping and resizing images
      4m 9s
  6. 28m 48s
    1. Planning your project
      3m 13s
    2. Using guides and rulers
      6m 40s
    3. Using a grid system
      8m 28s
    4. Developing a layout with shape layers
      4m 4s
    5. Making pixel-perfect adjustments
      6m 23s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Using point text vs. paragraph text
      2m 10s
    2. Using text as text vs. using text as an image
      2m 47s
    3. Understanding web-safe fonts
      2m 41s
    4. Inserting placeholder text
      4m 2s
    5. Creating and using character styles
      2m 37s
    6. Creating and using paragraph styles
      6m 11s
    7. Creating editable 3D text
      2m 51s
  8. 26m 54s
    1. Understanding layer styles
      7m 0s
    2. Creating and using drop shadows
      3m 23s
    3. Creating better bevels
      6m 9s
    4. Simulating metallic textures
      5m 8s
    5. Saving and applying layer styles
      2m 48s
    6. Turning layer styles into independent layers
      2m 26s
  9. 50m 23s
    1. Starting with a wireframe
      54s
    2. Organizing page structure
      2m 29s
    3. Adding master elements
      5m 37s
    4. Creating navigation
      4m 36s
    5. Working with photographs
      4m 0s
    6. Working with text
      8m 31s
    7. Creating media placeholders
      7m 22s
    8. Creating buttons
      7m 15s
    9. Creating form fields
      7m 54s
    10. Simulating pages with layer comps
      1m 45s
  10. 33m 38s
    1. Understanding slicing
      2m 4s
    2. Slicing up a mockup
      4m 15s
    3. Understanding web file formats
      4m 3s
    4. Exploring the Save for Web dialog
      5m 3s
    5. Optimizing photographs
      4m 17s
    6. Optimizing transparent graphics
      4m 56s
    7. Saving Retina display graphics
      5m 34s
    8. Using the Image Generator (NEW)
      3m 26s
  11. 10m 40s
    1. Understanding image sprites
      1m 25s
    2. Creating a sprite grid
      2m 54s
    3. Assembling a sprite
      4m 51s
    4. Optimizing sprites for the web
      1m 30s
  12. 18m 6s
    1. Creating a basic action
      5m 28s
    2. Exploring batch processing
      2m 55s
    3. Creating droplets
      3m 20s
    4. Using the Fit Image command
      4m 5s
    5. Using the Image Processor
      2m 18s
  13. 6m 56s
    1. Integrating PSD files with Dreamweaver
      3m 22s
    2. Integrating PSD files with Fireworks
      1m 59s
    3. Integrating PSD files with Muse
      1m 35s
  14. 50s
    1. Goodbye
      50s

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