Categories
Blog Design

Make Your Images Hi-Def: Free Photoshop Action Script

Needless to say, I love sports and ESPN. I am a big fan of ESPN.com and visit it almost everyday. I have always been fascinated by their photography and it got me thinking- hmmm Photoshop action script – about how they process images for the website. The photos jump off the screen and far exceed the color quality of rival sites.

My subconscious always directs me back…

So it got me thinking and you’re going to like what i have to share with you! I went ahead and scripted a Photoshop action script that will turn your good photos to great photos. I combined some of my favorite adjustments for you in one simple action in Photoshop. All you need to do is press ‘play’ and it’s all done automatically.

Always process copies of your images in case you are not completely happy with the results and make another effort with compensations.

Installing the Photoshop action script is easy. From inside Photoshop, go to Window/Actions to open the Actions window. In the upper right corner, pull down the drop-down menu and select Load Actions and select the HiDef3 color Photoshop action script. Click the Play button and presto, you’re image is done and ready for placement.

The resulting image is in sRGB and ready to be imported into Adobe InDesign.

Yes, the image is in RGB, however you do not need to convert your images to CMYK. Watch this RGB to CMYK tutorial and automatically convert all your images to CMYK upon exporting press-ready PDF. A remarkable workflow that will save you a tremendous amount of time and improve your color quality on press.

Drop me a note HERE and I will personally send you the HiDefColor Action Script…

Please post your feedback below in comments…

[learn_more caption=”Transcript of Video” state=”open”] Hi. This is Rick Rys from HiDefColor.com

Today’s tutorial is going be a quick instructional video on using the new Hi Def 3 action scripts within Photoshop to automate your image processing.

00:17 Inside Photoshop CS go under the window and select actions. In the actions window you want to select load actions and navigate to where you downloaded your Hi Def 3 Photoshop action script file.

00:35 Mine here is on the desktop, select the file, click open, and now the actions are ready to be used. So from here we’re going to open a couple of files.

01:02 Now with this action script, this action script will automatically assign Adobe 98 RGB color profile to your images. The Adobe RGB color profile is a much larger color gamut so your colors will be much more vibrant. I do not recommend using this for portrait photography. Use the sRGB color profile for portrait photography.

01:26 I will be uploading an action script Hi Def action script with the sRGB color profile in the next few days. So from here we want to go ahead and ignore the missing profile. The image will be brought in and simply select the Hi Def 3 action script and click the play button.

01:49 You’ll see the process is automatic. We have a much much greater better color balance here we got much more vibrant colors and notice the definition. Inside the images are incredible details. Almost giving the look of three-dimensional look because you can see here that the quarterback here is almost jumping out at you from the background. You see the background here the depth of field is much more greater than the original photograph.

02:22 Let’s take a look back here in our history and look at the old picture. This is what was published but with the simple action script this is what you could have seen. Some people may look at this and say is too sharp. Keep in mind, this is very important, when the image goes into the RIP – raster image processor – in prepress, and gets converted into a screen – with an FM screen we are running – the image automatically will soften up.

02:52 So to give you a better idea, look at it at the sixty-six percent and it will give you an idea of how that actually will look when printed. You can see it’s cleaned up a little more here and again very sharp.

03:04 And compare with the old, to the new, this’ll give you true high definition color in your next printed project. Combine this with the Never Convert to CMYK video at HiDefColor.com and your images will be saved with the correct RGB profile and converted to CMYK during the export out of InDesign.

03:29 Well, thanks for tuning in. Have a good day. Take care…[/learn_more]

 

Categories
Blog Design Featured Article Google Marketing

The Real Personal Computer

The year was 1981 and IBM just launched the 5150 Personal Computer. The 5150 started the personal computer revolution, but it took time to spread from the early adopters. It started with small businesses and built momentum when the Apple Macintosh was introduced in 1984. It wasn’t until the mid-1990’s, when the internet was made public, that made the personal computer popular to the average consumer.

The iPhone is the new personal computer
Image courtesy Apple Inc.

While this was all happening, we witnessed the revolution of the cellular phone. The cellular phone started as a large briefcase bag that you had to carry around with you or leave inside your car. They morphed into large cordless ‘bricks’ which look really funny these days.

Which brings us to today. These devices, that we cannot get away from, are tethered to our bodies and have become indispensable to our daily lives. Our cell phones are not telephones, they are our new personal computer. Smart phones are powerful computers that allow us to make phone calls through the internet using a technology called voice-over-internet-protocol (VOIP). They not only allow us to communicate via voice, but also allow access to text messaging (SMS), email, video calling, social media apps, photos and browsing the internet. People claim that if they leave their home without their wallet they will continue driving, while they will return home to grab their cell phone. As social media, games and apps build even more momentum, people will be even more attached to their phones.

Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is now being built into new smart phones. NFC will allow us to start our cars, make purchases and allow for customized content. Near field communication is a sensor/chip inside a phone that uses a customized short-range frequency that is dedicated exclusively to your device. We have been using this technology for many years with devices such as keyless office entry or ‘speed-pass’ payment methods. This technology is now being built into smart phones for your convenience. Think about this: wallet, keys, phone; two of them are going away – pick one.

One note to keep your eye on, cell phone service providers are now charging data usage by your usage in kilobytes. For those of you that are not aware, or have unlimited data plans, each time you visit a website on your smart phone, you are downloading the html code/data of that site through your phone’s internet browser. This data that you download is being tracked by your service provider and you will be charged based on the amount of data that you are downloading. I don’t like this trend and we need to support service providers that allow unlimited data plans. If all the service providers switch away from unlimited data plans, we, the consumer, will pay significantly with higher cell phone bills. Doesn’t that sound like the beginning of internet browsing with the old ‘dial-up’ connections?

Furthermore, if you own a business or you’re a marketer, you need to get your business online. With the emergence of the Real Personal Computer (our cell phone), there are tremendous opportunities to those that can be found through search engines. The day will come when your potential client uses their phone to search for what they want to buy. Your business needs to have a web presence and a mobile friendly website to take advantage of new business and lead generation opportunities. Think about the potential of mobile marketing with everyone glued to their phones…

An analogy would be to compare the computer revolution with the telephone industry. We’ve gone from using large desktop workstations to small handheld devices.

They are now one.

How often do you conduct Google search on your cell phone? Please leave your comments below…

 

Categories
Blog Design

What is a RIP – Raster Image Processor?

What is a RIP? A simple analogy is Photoshop. Have you ever opened a PDF with Photoshop? The ‘Import PDF’ dialogue window prompts you with two important fields: resolution and mode. After inputting resolution, mode and clicking OK, Photoshop starts the raster image process – converting the PDF into a bitmap. Raster is another term for bitmap.

 

Raster Image Processor FM Screening RIP
Our friend ‘amoeba’ shown at varying bitmap resolutions. Notice the outline super-imposed at various resolutions. Higher bitmap resolutions create longer processing times in the RIP (raster image processor).
Categories
Blog Design Featured Article Media Photoshop

VIDEO: Advanced Sharpening and Noise Reduction in Photoshop

This VIDEO will show you how to get the most dynamic and sharpest images in your printed marketing material. This is a two-step Photoshop sharpening technique that will show you how to create the sharpest images without creating noise in smooth midtone areas of your photographs.

This is one of my favorite Photoshop sharpening tips in reproducing beautiful photography on press. All images are not as sharp as they can be when converted from raw files. These days there is a lot of post image processing that needs to be done with digital images. One of the key things that is overlooked is how sharp the image is. We now work with incredibly sharp LCD displays and images seem to jump off the screen. Unfortunately, when an image goes through the RIP (raster image processor) process in prepress, the image is naturally softened in the screening process.

Remember, your photography is only as good as the printer you choose!

Let me know what you think. Please leave your comments below…

[learn_more caption=”Transcript of Video” state=”open”] Hi. This is Rick Rys from HiDefColor.com.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of the greatest Photoshop sharpening techniques to take your photographs from a good photograph to a great photograph.

[0:13] Notice the transition there. This will demonstrate how to take a great photo and make it into a true high definition color print when it’s printed on press.

[0:25] All right, let’s get started here.

[0:27] As you can see, I am working in the LAB color space right now. You can work in RGB and get the same results. I prefer using LAB. Just keep in mind you want to convert to CMYK at the very last moment so always work in RGB or LAB.

[0:43] First things started, we’re going to do a Select All and we’re going to copy and create a new Alpha channel here and paste our document or image into our new Alpha channel.

[1:03] We select that and we’re going to Filter, Stylize and click the Find Edges. Now what Find Edges will do is look at all the sharp contrasting points in the image and basically highlight those and create a line drawing for you.

[1:21] From here, we’re going to go on to our curves, which is our Command M and we’re going to alter this channel.

[1:30] First thing you want to do… In a nutshell, what’s happening here… We’re going to sharpen the darkened areas. The white areas will not be sharpened so we’re going to maintain our smooth, crystal clear, creamy midtones and not create any noise in there from excessive sharpening.

[1:49] First thing, you’d want to grab our shadow end of our curve and bring this over all the way up to 50%. At the same time, you’d want to take our highlight end of our curve and bring this up to about 20% or so.

[2:09] You can see right now we’ve created a much higher contrast now in this line drawing. And again just to make another adjustment here, we want to make our black areas a little wider as possible so we’re going to add some more density to that black and kick it up. You can see they’re almost intersecting each other.

[2:29] At this point, we’re going to click OK and we’re going to go into Filter and create a Gaussian Blur on this image. The blur will spread the black areas to create a subtle transition between these smooth areas and the sharpened areas.

[2:50] So, select Gaussian Blur and use anything… I prefer to use two and a half pixels. That seems to work fast for me. So, select 2.5 pixels and click OK.

[3:04] Now back to curves again. You could see we softened up the image.

[3:07] Now we go back to curves and harden up that edge a little more. So we’re going to bring our shadow end of our curve all the way up to 50% again. You could see how much darker we made that so we’ll get more sharpening in the areas. There is no information in our white areas here so those areas will not be affected by the Photoshop sharpening filter. Click OK.

[3:32] At this point, we’re going back to our full color image and go to Select and Load Selection. Notice we’re going to select our Alpha channel that we’ve created and click OK. Now that selection is brought to place. We’re simply going to hide the selection just to save on our eyeballs there.

[3:57] And now we’re going to do our sharpening. The selection is going to just isolate the areas that we want to sharpen. Go to Filter, Sharpen and I’m a huge fan of Unsharp Mask. It goes back to the old days of running the old color drum scanner. At this point, I’m going to play around with the amount.

[4:21] Now the amount is how much the adjoining pixels are affected. I like to go real high on this number, anywhere between 150 and 200. For this tutorial, I’m going to select 200 and it’s a high number but keep in mind we’re only affecting those images in the selection itself.

[4:41] You’d want to keep the radius anywhere between half a pixel to one to one and a half. If you go any thicker, you’ll create a severe halo effect around your images. If you’re looking for an artistic point of view, you may want to do that but I would not ever recommend doing that. So we’re going to stick to one pixel.

[5:06] Our threshold determines which pixels are sharpened and which are not. A higher threshold value means that there’s a huge contrast difference between pixels that are affected. Since we have our selection, it’s a moot point so it really doesn’t matter. So I’m going to stick with a threshold of zero.

[5:26] You can see as I move through the image and click on and off, you’ll notice that there is a great deal of sharpening happening in the contrasting areas but look at the midtone areas. They’re perfectly clean and not affected at all. Just an incredible cool little tool to utilize to create dynamic looking photographs. So click OK and we are done.

[5:53] At this point, we’ll go ahead and save our image and just to show you up close, we’ll zoom in here and you can see the difference between the two. Turn on… And turn it back off again… And turn it back on. Just an awesome looking sharpening job.

[6:15] OK, thanks for tuning in. Look back for more tutorials in the future. Take care. [/learn_more]

Image: www.montenagler.com

 

 

Categories
Blog Color Management Design Fun Marketing Photography Video

Four Color Televisions? Really??

 

When i first saw this commercial I laughed. What will they try to sucker us into next?

 

How do they think they are going to take an RGB signal, therefore RGB color gamut, and create more pixel information and re-create more of an image that was never there to begin with?

My guess is they’re taking the red and green signals and just amplifying the two together to create more yellow. This will alter the white point, or color temperature, of the screen and never match any color.

How can you add an additional color to additive color theory? What will the additive color purists think?

Most people, however, prefer a blue/white appearance because if appears brighter. We have all seen this case with paper for commercial color printing. Optical brightening agents in paper manufacturing create the blue/white finish of paper. The paper ‘appears’ brighter, but in reality it’s just ‘bluer’.

In the subtractive color world, only so much light can be reflected off the surface of the paper. Therefore, if the paper was neutral in ‘whiteness’ it would appear dirty with more yellow being added instead of blue.

Inkjet printers now use as many as 12 colors to create beautiful color prints. This is understandable because using just CMYK can not create the same gamut as RGB.

Personally, I would rather have a sharper image with great contrast over ‘cartoon’ color.

What do you think?

Categories
Blog Design Marketing Printing

When to Print Digital Versus Offset Printing

There are three factors in making a decision to print a brochure on a digital press versus printing on an offset press.

  1. Quality. There is little doubt that offset printing is better in terms of resolution. Photos, screen tints and gradient screens are far superior printed with a metal plate on an offset press. Contrary, a digital press will have a slightly larger color gamut due to the nature of the toner (digital ink) being fused to the substrate. This method of digital printing will provide brighter colors on uncoated stocks. Overall, the resolution and crispness of type/screens on an offset press far exceeds digital printing to the trained eye.
  2. Turnaround time. Hands down, digital printing is the choice. Without having to make expensive metal plates and time consuming ‘press makeready’, the ability of digital printing to output a single press sheet, without metal plates or ‘press makeready’, is a tremendous advantage. On the downside, the slower speed of a digital press makes longer runs more time consuming than an offset printing.
  3. Price. The major price difference between printing digital versus printing offset is the quantity. Lesser quantities will favor printing digital, while larger quantities will favor printing offset. The ‘per unit’ price of a digital printed piece will be higher than offset. However, the expense of making plates and ‘press makeready’ with offset will cause the ‘per unit’ price to be linear – as the quantity goes up, the ‘per unit’ price goes down. Finding the price intersection is the key.

As you can see, there are many variables to consider printing digital versus printing offset. There is no clear-cut decision. If quality is paramount, stick with offset and pay a little more. If you’re just looking for 50 brochures, digital printing is your choice.

You can see the numbers yourself. HiDefColor.com has an instant pricing calculator for both offset printing and digital printing. Use the instant pricing calculator to determine when to use digital printing versus offset printing.

 

Categories
Blog Design File Prep Printing

Printing Screen Captures on Press

Here is a simple little trick that will create the best looking screen captures.

Printing screen captures can be a very tedious process for a pressman. The process can be made much, much easier if the screen capture file is converted to CMYK using a maximum GCR (gray component replacement) setting. This Max GCR process will remove all the cyan, magenta and yellow from the image in the neutral tone areas resulting in the type being composed of just black ink. Other colored areas will still separate and print, but with much less total area coverage (TAC). Total area coverage may sound familiar because most printers prefer CMYK images with less than 300% ink coverage (adding the percent values for all four process colors).

screen grab
Imagine the press operator trying to line up/register 4 point type in all four colors. Max GCR eliminates register concerns by producing black type with black ink.

The most important part is the importance of registration on press.

The type within the screen capture will only print in black ink and no registration issues in aligning tiny little letters.

Categories
Blog Color Management Design File Prep Marketing Photography Printing Profiles

Secrets To Printing Chocolate

Printing chocolate can be very demanding.

The problem is a rich, appealing image of chocolate contains all four process colors and depending what profile is used, or converted to, there is a greater chance of not getting the results you’re looking for.

GCR Neutral Density Curves 320 TAC
Neutral Density Curves of GRACoL color profile. Notice when the image gets darker, the more Black ink is used. The gray gradient line from left is neutral gray from white to black.

An ICC color profile with a high percentage of GCR (gray component replacement) will produce the best results. Using GCR will lower the contaminate color (in the case of chocolate – cyan) and replace with a percentage of black ink.

For instance, using Photoshop’s default North American General Purpose settings, a nice brown/chocolate color will produce CMYK values of 40 cyan, 75 magenta, 100 yellow and 40 black.

HiDefColor.com uses an enhanced CMYK gamut and that same color would separate/convert as 15 cyan, 65 magenta, 95 yellow and 60 black.

By just using the correct profile, a more controllable/predictable color would be obtained on press. Also, overall ink consumption would be reduced by nearly 10%. This is a result of adding the four process color percentages (255 versus 235), also know as Total Area Coverage (TAC).

 

Categories
Blog Design File Prep Photography

Two Simple Steps to Improving Your Digital Photos for Press

We’ve all been there before – “The client wants to run this image”.

Who knows where it came from, but it looks like hell.

The easiest correction to any digital image is to establish a highlight and shadow setting for the image.

A highlight area is the lightest portion of the image you wish to maintain detail. A “specular” highlight would refer to a reflection and have no detail (255,255,255).
The shadow area is the darkest portion of the image you wish to maintain detail.

Correct highlight and shadow values accomplish two things:

  1. establish contrast to the image
  2. remove any color cast to the image

A great starting point for a highlight is an RGB value of 250,250,250.

A starting point for shadow value is an RGB value of 10,10,10.

Equal amounts of RGB are neutral.

In theory, an absolute RGB black value is 0,0,0. However, do not go this dark due to shadow dots plugging up on press. Again, this is a starting point and you can venture into darker RGB values with experience.

Look for future post on color correction basics.

Categories
Blog Design File Prep Marketing

Number One Reason for Delays in Print Turnaround Time

The number one reason your print order can be delayed is do to errors in producing print-ready files.

All commercial printers are searching for the holy grail of PDF files; PDF X-3 , PDF X-4.

A PDF X file is ready to RIP (raster image processing). The RIP is the computer/software that reads, interprets and renders your images onto printing plates. If there are issues with submitted files, the RIP will error out and the print job will be stopped. That’s when you receive the “phone call”.

HiDefColor.com will be installing an AutoRIP feature online shortly. This will be a FREE, simple way to preflight your files before placing an order with us.

Any errors will be noted so they can be repaired before you incur any charges for sending new files.