Signs of the Times - April 2013 - (Page 32)
By Theresa Jackson
Theresa Jackson operates Orchard View Color (Escondido, CA) and has more
than 20 years’ experience in prepress, graphic design, color management
and photography. Email her at Theresa@orchardviewcolor.com
Less Pixels, Less Time
Helpful tips for creating wide-format designs in Photoshop
Creating some hefty files. Determining anPhotoshop
wide-format print designs with
lution, or pixels-per-inch (ppi), for your design can
help. Understanding when and why to design with
Photoshop can help even more.
Photoshop is a resolution-dependent bitmap editor,
which can create vector objects that are not resolution
dependent (the objects become pixels as soon as you
flatten the Photoshop document layers).
Wide-format designs with text and flat-color graphic
shapes are created most optimally in Adobe Illustrator®.
Vector objects are not resolution-dependent, so their size
comprises much fewer megabytes. You can scale Illustrator’s vector art infinitely, which allows you to confidently
design at a scale factor, because no image-quality degradation will occur when you scale the image for output.
If your wide-format designs require Photoshop, below
are some helpful tips. Know, however, that Photoshop is
required for photographs. It handles textures, shadows
and glow effects better than Illustrator, because these items
are rasterized at output. Often, the best workflow utilizes
the strengths of both Photoshop and Illustrator.
and media type. View the printed samples at various
distances. Consider the average viewer’s reading distance.
For example, a billboard’s resolution may be as low as
Once the ideal resolution is determined for each
factor, you’ve established a dpi-knowledge base, which
allows you to start each new Photoshop design at the
exact print dimension and correct ppi.
Design in RGB
An RGB document comprises fewer megabytes than a
CMYK file with the same pixel count, because a CMYK
file has one more color channel than an RGB file.
If your printer requires a CMYK file, perform the
RGB/CMYK conversion last. Design in RGB and, when
done, flatten the final design and convert it to CMYK.
Photoshop vector shapes
Design with vector-shape layers instead of pixel layers.
Apply pattern effects to vector shapes for textured
backgrounds. A vector shape with a pattern effect is
much smaller than an image layer.
Pixels-per-inch (PPI) is often confused with dots-perinch (DPI), so think of ppi as the digital image and
dpi as the output device.
The ppi figure is a measurement of pixels per printed
linear inch. A printed, 100-ppi image – one that measures
100 x 100 pixels – will cover 1 sq. in. More importantly,
the ppi figure will determine the resolution of your
printed Photoshop image.
Avoid Smart Object layers
Bitmap, Smart Object layers rapidly increase a Photoshop
file’s megabyte size. For example, placed images from
Mini Bridge always default to Smart Objects. Rasterize
Smart Objects by going to Layer > Rasterize > Smart
Object. Smart Object layers are identified by a page
icon in the layers palette. Double clicking on a Smart
Object layer will open the Smart Object in its own
Determine the ideal ppi
Consider several factors when deciding on the best
ppi for your Photoshop design – type of design, output
device, print size, media and viewing distance. Most
importantly, don’t create more pixels than necessary,
because, at a certain point, there’s no return on your
pixel investment. The ideal resolution is probably
smaller than you think.
Testing is the best way to determine the ideal ppi. Create
a test-print document that represents your typical design,
and set its dimensions to the final print size. Start with
your highest, typical resolution (label the resolution
somewhere in the image). Lower the resolution in 50-ppi
increments, and save a new, labeled file each time. To
change the image resolution, go to Image > Image Size.
Check all three boxes: Scale Effects, Constrain Proportions
and Resample Image.
Print a sample set of these files on each output device
Saved selections become Alpha Channels, viewable in
the Channels palette. Alpha Channels are grayscale bitmap
information, and they add megabytes to the document
size. Delete extra Alpha Channels by dragging them to the
trashcan icon at the bottom of the Channels palette.
32 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / APRIL 2013 / www.signweb.com
Crop extraneous pixels
Pixels that fall outside of the document boundaries
are hidden from view, but they add megabytes to the
document size. This happens frequently with placed
images that are larger than the layout. Delete these
pixels with the Marquee tool. Select the entire document
(Command or Control A); then go to Edit > Crop.
Clean up layers
Delete unused or hidden layers. Merge layers that
create a look that makes you happy.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - April 2013
Signs of the Times - April 2013
Cut Your Ink Costs
Sign Museum News
The 2013 International Sign Contest
The ISA Sign Expo 2013 Preview
Signs of the Times - April 2013