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By Colleen Wheeler | Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Deke's Techniques #13: Simulating subpixel rendering

What, you ask, is subpixel rendering? This week’s Deke’s Technique will either make your head spin or make you feel on top of the geek heap. The idea is this: Regardless of the which rendering intent you use for your text—Sharp, Crisp, Strong, or Smooth—Photoshop has a habit of rendering very small type badly, whereas that same very small type looks nice and legible when rendered by your operating system or as editable type by a browser. What’s the difference? The reason is subpixel rendering, which permits an application to rasterize text and other vector objects, on-the-fly, to each of the three color channels (RGB) independently. Here’s a diagram to help things make slightly more sense:

Of course, if you’re working with HTML type, all is well. But as soon as you render that text to pixels, subpixel is not an option. It’s not Photoshop’s fault; JPEG, GIF, PNG, and other web image formats don’t support subpixel rendering. In this week’s free technique, Deke shares not only how subpixel rendering works, but also how to simulate it in Photoshop by creating a faux color antil-alias effect. For those of you who make small type for your screen images—whether web, kiosk, or presentation—or who just like to know the geekiest trick of the week, it’ll make all the tiny difference in the world.

Each week, there’s a new free technique from Deke. And lynda.com members will find an extra cache of awesome, geektastic, or just plain useful techniques exclusively inside the Online Training Library®. See you next week!

Related links:Deke’s Techniques courses on Photoshop in the Online Training Library® courses by Deke McClelland in the Online Training Library®

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