64. About Printing Images
Before You Begin
105 Ensure That What You See Is What You Get
66 Print an Image
67 Print a Contact Sheet
68 Print a Picture Package
69 Print Images Using an Online Service
After working on an image and perfecting its beauty, there are several things you should consider before printing it.
What size do you want the image to be when printed? Is this size the same as the image is now? As you'll learn in 66 Print an Image, you can make quick adjustments to the size of the image when printing without changing the image file's actual size. For example, you can choose to print an image at 43% its actual size if you like. Still, it's nice to have an idea of the image's final size when making modificationsyou don't have to be as picky with image quality for a wallet-size photo as you do with an 8" x 10", for example. If you want to resize an image to the size you want to use for printing, do that before editing it, if possible. See 60 Change Image Size or Resolution.
Note that if you print an image in a larger size than normal by rescaling it in the Print Selected Images dialog box (in the Organizer) or the Print Preview dialog box (in the Editor), the resolution is decreased proportionately to compensate. In other words, pixels are not added as they would be if you resized the image using the Image Size command described in 60 Change Image Size or Resolution. If the resulting resolution falls below acceptable levels of quality, you'll see a warning telling you so; you can choose a different print size. Also note that, with this method, the resolution and print size of the original image is left unchanged; only the resolution of the printout changes.
You need to match the print size of an image as shown in Photoshop Elements with the size of the paper you're printing. For example, if you're using 4" x 6" photo paper, you'll need to adjust the print size of your image to exactly 4" x 6" or smaller so that the image doesn't print off the edge of the paper.
What kind of quality do you expect? Is this just a quick print to see roughly how something looks, or is this a keeper? As you can when printing documents from other programs, you can change the print quality of an image just before printing. For test prints, choose your ordinary ink jet or laser paper and draft quality; for final prints, choose a glossy or matte photo paper and best quality print speed. See 65 Set Print Options.
For best results, use photo paper made by the same manufacturer as your printer because the printer's ink and paper are designed to work togethermuch like one brand of shampoo and conditioner.
Color management helps your monitor and printer regulate the appearance of color through ICC profiles. Your monitor requires a color profile for your video card to display the colors in an image the way the Editor sees them. Your printer requires a separate color profile for the Editor to know what combination of inks faithfully reproduce the hues in your images' palettes. And now, there are color profiles for paper that can match the paper's capability to hold ink to the specific printer you use. In 103 About Color Management, you'll learn how to make your computer system manage color properly.
If you want to save a few bucks and buy your paper online, consider only those sources that provide ICC profiles that match your printer and their respective paper types. ICC profiles are customized to match the capabilities of your printer to the brand and paper type you buy, creating prints of high quality. You'll learn how to select the ICC profile to use in 66 Print an Image; to learn how to install a profile, see 105 Ensure That What You See Is What You Get.
This online photo paper store also offers free ICC profiles that match their paper types with Canon and Epson Stylus Photo printers.
Do you need more than one copy of the image or want to print multiple images at one time? As you can with other programs, in the Organizer, you can select the number of copies you want of a printed image. However, the Organizer has one feature many other programs don't have: the capability to arrange multiple images (or copies of the same image) on a single sheet of paper, like the photo sheets you get from a professional photographer. So, if you decide you want to share your photos, you won't have to waste a lot of paper printing each copy on its own sheet. See 68 Print a Picture Package for more information.
Will you be printing the image on a home printer or taking it to a lab for professional printing? If you're printing at home, enhance the final quality of your prints by buying photo paper for photos you intend to frame or place in an album and high-quality paper for greeting cards, calendars, business cards, and reports. If they are available for your printer, buy high-quality inks that resist fading (archival inks).
If you plan on taking the image to a professional service bureau or photo kiosk for printing, make sure that you know exactly what that service expects from you: specifically, the media type (CD, floppy, memory stick) and image type (JPEG, TIFF, Kodak Picture CD, and so on). For example, the Kodak Picture Maker machines in many retail stores accept most digital camera memory card format, Kodak Picture CD format, or JPEG format only. If your local choices are too limited, try the Internet. There are any number of high-quality photo labs on the Internet that will accept images sent by email or FTP.
You can directly upload images to the Ofoto Web site for printing, from the Organizer. See 69 Print Images Using an Online Service.
Prepare an Image for Printing
Whether you plan to print a photograph locally or with a service, here are some tips for preparing the image properly:
Start with enough pixels. Typically, you'll want your final print resolution to be 200 to 300 DPI. So, make sure that you scan at that resolution, if you're scanning a photo into your system for printing later. If you plan to resize and resample the image to remove moiré patterns caused by the scanning process, scan at double that resolution400 to 600 PPI. If you're shooting an image with a digital camera, always use the camera's highest resolution. You can always reduce the print size of an image later by reducing the printout's DPI or by compressing the image, but you can never increase an image's resolution after it has already been shot.
Makers of scanners, digital cameras, and the imaging community at large typically refer to an image's resolution in terms of pixels per inch, or PPI. Printer manufacturers refer to print resolution in terms of DPI, or dots per inch. Don't let yourself get too confused; they mean essentially the same thingso many dots/pixels per inch of paper/screen.
Check the print size and resolution. The dimensions of the original image, when viewed using the Editor's Image, Resize, Image Size command, must correspond to the final print size you want to achieve, or you'll have to resample the image to add pixels, resulting in a loss of print quality. For example, if you want to print an image in 6" x 4" format at 600 DPIwhich, for some basic inkjet printers, is "best quality"the image file's dimensions shown in the Image Size dialog box must be least 3600 x 2400 pixels (600 pixels per inch times 6 inches by 600 pixels per inch times 4 inches). You can usually achieve acceptable quality print results at 300 DPI, and for that, the dimensions of your original image must be at least 1800 x 1200 pixels.
Online services typically require images of only 150 DPI to achieve good quality prints (because they use higher quality printers, better inks, and Kodak paper). Many services such as Adobe's Ofoto make available archival quality prints, which are laser etchings made directly onto silver halide photo paper. These etchings use absolutely no ink, so there's no medium to degrade over time, and the paper actually captures a broader range of the film's color spectrum than inks or dyes are capable of reproducing. So if you don't like the results you get on your home printer, try sending your image to a film lab instead. See 69 Print Images Using an Online Service.
The highest quality images produced by a 3.1 megapixel (Mp) camera are stored at 2048 x 1536 (2,048 times 1,536 = 3,145,728 pixels, or 3.1 Mp). Dividing by 300 DPI minimum print resolution, you'll discover you can print 5" x 7" images at home, but if you want to print larger images, you must resample. If you own a 2.1 Mp camera, its highest quality images are stored at 1600 x 1200 resolution, which means that you can print good quality images at 300 DPI up to 4" x 6" without resampling.
Save the image using a lossless format such as Photoshop PSD or TIFF. JPEG format allows for invisible, or semi-visible, selective reductions in image quality to achieve smaller file sizes. If you plan to use an outside photo service that requires JPEG format, edit your image first, making sure that you save changes in Photoshop PSD or TIFF format. When you're completely done with the image, save a copy as JPEG, using as low an amount of compression as your photo lab allows. If the lab accepts TIFF format, use it instead because TIFF files are certain to provide higher-quality prints.
Merge layers before printing. If you plan to print from the Editor an image that has multiple layers, to save time, you should merge the layers of that image before printing. Save your working (*.psd) image first, then merge your layers and save the result in JPEG or TIFF format. (See 47 About Saving Images for details.) Then print the resulting JPEG or TIFF image. Believe it or not, although the print process merges layers in memory before printing anyway, this process takes far longer than if you merge the layers before you print.
The Layers palette lists all the layers in an image that you can presently see on-screen by placing an "eye" icon next to each visible layer's listing. This icon also designates which layers will print. So to print just some of the layers in an image, on the Layers palette, turn off visibility for those layers you don't want to print. See 91 About Layers and the Layers Palette for details.
Size the image to fit the photo size you want. If you are printing the image yourself, you can adjust its print size on the fly in the Print Preview or Print Selected Images dialog box to approximate the proper photo size, although, as noted earlier, this might cause a loss of print quality if the resulting resolution becomes too low. This can also result in areas of the image being cropped (not printed) as Photoshop Elements adjusts its size to fit your print needs.
If you plan to turn the image over to a photo lab, limit how much the photo lab might have to crop your uploaded image by making sure its aspect ratio (its height to width ratio) exactly matches the photo size you want. For example, the aspect ratio of a 4" x 6" print is 1:1.5; a 5" x 7" print is 1:1.4; and an 8" x 10" print is 1:1.25. An unedited digital image typically has an aspect ratio of 1:1.33, which is the same as a computer screen. You can change the aspect ratio of a photo by cropping or resizing/resampling. Resizing an image to fit your print needs can also offer you benefits at home because you can retain or even increase your resolution or print quality when you need to, and you can ensure that your image size is always exactly what you want when you print it. You also avoid blowing up your pixel size to fit your new print size, which is what happens when you rescale an image on-the-fly. Just follow the steps in 60 Change Image Size or Resolution.
In the Editor, you can crop an image to an exact size such as 4" x 6" for example, simply by selecting that preset from the Preset Options list on the Options bar after choosing the Crop tool. A crop rectangle of that exact size appears; you can move it around the image to select the best portion to crop. You can also resize the crop rectangle by dragging from a corner without losing the aspect ratio.