Signs of the Times - August 2013 - (Page 34)
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
Up-scale plug-ins are nice, but not always necessary.
Many people say Photoshop, on its
own, can’t adequately enlarge images.
This worry, in part, has led to the
unconnected development of imageenlargement and “upscaling” software.
I’ve recently evaluated (Alienupscale
plug-ins – Blow Up 3
Perfect Resize 7.5 (onOne) and
PhotoZoom Pro 5 (BenVista). The
results were somewhat surprising.
All three plug-ins run within
Photoshop CS6 and, once installed,
are easily accessed via the “Automate”
menu. When tagged, each displays
a proprietary plug-in panel whose
preview window allows you to adjust settings before you commit the
image to scaling.
Each plug-in presents sharpen
settings and, in every test situation,
returned sharper images than
For the record, I use Photoshop’s
default “Bicubic Automatic” setting
when upscaling, and I’m not convinced an upscale plug-in is necessary for every Photoshop user. For
example, despite the sharper results,
I believe a plug-in (or software)
choice depends on the original
image quality, plus the output intention, workflow and the user’s skill
I started my evaluation with full-res,
18-megapixel, 16-bit images from
my Canon 7D camera. I tested two
shots – an architectural-type photo
of a brick building with palm trees,
and a portrait of a teenage girl.
I scaled the images 500%, using
default settings for each. The scaled
images weighed in at more than
All three plug-ins created a sharper
upscale image than Photoshop, but,
interestingly, the Photoshop result
was acceptable. With some postscale sharpening, the Photoshop
image looked quite good, which
means initial, good-quality, highresolution images may or may not
require the extra time and expense
of a third-party plug-in. Expectedly,
the result hinges on your workflow
and intended output.
Photoshop was also the fastest at
upscaling. It scaled the image within
eight seconds. The next fastest was
Blow Up at 1 minute, 18 seconds.
Perfect Resize needed 9 minutes,
28 seconds and PhotoZoom Pro
required 11 minutes, 45 seconds. I
used PhotoZoom’s default setting:
S-Spline Max, Photo Extra Detailed.
Also, scaling from Photoshop
reduces overall time by not requiring
34 SIGNS OF THE TIMES / AUGUST 2013 / www.signweb.com
the plug-in load time, which is not
included in these timed results.
Photoshop alone is much faster,
but the peripheral plug-ins outdo
Photoshop CS6 for sharpening edges
and reducing flat-area artifacts. They
also provide a preview of chosen
settings before scaling.
Next, I tested low-res, 8-bit, .JPEG
images, scaled at 1,000% and 1,500%.
The results distinctly separated the
software. Photoshop created a soft,
grainy image that lacked distinct
Blowup created a highly filtered
look, with razor-sharp edges and
watercolor-style flat areas.
Perfect Resize and PhotoZoom
Pro shined in this test, with similar,
yet more impressive, results.
Low-resolution .JPEG logo
I finished the testing with a 300 x
369-pixel logo that I created from a
vector original. I scaled it 1,500%,
which created a 4,500 x 5,535-pixel
image. The Photoshop result was,
as above, soft and pixilated.
Blow Up was barely acceptable.
Perfect Resize was good.
PhotoZoom, scaled with the
S-Spline Max, Graphics – Extra
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Signs of the Times - August 2013
Signs of the Times - August 2013
Cloud-based signshop software
Technology Review - Esko Kongsberg XN finishing system
Technology Review - Gerber Edge seminars
Sign Museum News
Standing Their Ground
Commercial-Sign Company 1 on 1’s
Dynamic Displays at LAX
Signs of the Times - August 2013