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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jumpstart Photoshop

10 tips to help you get going quickly in using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

It also helps to continually make slight changes to your cloning point as you progress. This reduces cloning artifacts (tiny duplication of details). In addition, change the size of your brush even while doing the same section. It will facilitate better blending of the cloning.

9. Size The Photo
At some point, you'll need to size your photo for printing to a printing resolution. The size of the photo affects sharpening, so it's usually best to do sizing at the end of the process, just before sharpening. Image resolution is different from printing resolution. To set a printing resolution, go to the Image Size (or Resize in Elements) option under the Image menu item.

First, be sure the Resample box isn't checked. Type in a printing resolution between 200 and 300 ppi; this will tell you how big the image can be printed using the original pixels. If it isn't big enough at 200 ppi, check Resample and type in a larger size in the dimensions area. Use Bicubic Smoother (or just Bicubic if you have an older version of Photoshop) for enlarging photos. If the photo isn't small enough at 300 ppi, also check Resample and type in a smaller size, then use Bicubic Sharper.

10. Sharpen
Sharpening should be done at the end of the process to minimize some adjustment problems. Noise is one element that can be adversely affected if sharpening is done too early. Unsharp Mask is a standard (the name refers to a commercial printing industry process used for sharpening). Try these settings: Amount—130 to 180 (depends on detail; Amount refers to the strength of the sharpening); Radius—1 to 1.5 (depends on image size; Radius is based on how far Photoshop looks for tonal differences to affect); and Threshold—0 to 10 (depends on noise in the photo; most digital cameras do well with 2 to 3 unless there's a lot of noise; Threshold relates to the tonal difference where Photoshop starts making changes to edges).

Don't oversharpen. You can tell when an image is oversharpened when it loses some of its subtle tonalities and starts to look harsh. Another sign of oversharpening is when halos appear around strong contrasts in your photo (you can see them in the preview box if you move your cursor over the photo and click on a contrasty edge; it will appear in the preview).



Photoshop CS2 has a new sharpening tool, Smart Sharpen, which works to sharpen while minimizing halos. Its limitation is that it doesn't have a Threshold setting, so noise can be adversely affected. Sharpener Pro 2.0 from nik Multimedia is an excellent plug-in for sharpening that's quite intuitive. It allows you to base sharpness on your medium and how you plan to use the photo. In addition, you can help it smartly deal with sharpening in different areas based on colors in the photo (which can be a big help with noise).

Rob Sheppard, editor of Outdoor Photographer and PCPhoto, is the author of The Epson Complete Guide to Digital Printing, The PCPhoto Digital SLR Handbook and The PCPhoto Digital Zoom Handbook.



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