FAQ - Software

1. Setting up PageMaker to Link
2. Working with Linked Graphics
3. Building better masks
4. Dot deficit don'ts
5. Unsharp mask

Setting up PageMaker to Link

PageMaker has a relatively complicated and complete set of image and text linking tools. PageMaker will automatically embed smaller graphics based on a Preferences setting. This setting cannot be turned off, but it can be turned down to only embed very small graphics (under 64K in size). To do so, select File > Preferences > General > More....and click in the "Alert when storing graphics over" setting. Change it to 64 KBytes (the minimum PageMaker will allow).
Now, every time you Place a graphic larger than 64K, PageMaker will come up with a dialog box saying, "The graphic in the document would occupy XXX KBytes in the publication. Include complete copy in the publication anyway?" Hit the No button, and you can still place the graphic, but now it is linked to your document, not embedded. To summarize, don't include a complete copy in the publication, link it instead.

Working with Linked Graphics

Once you have linked graphics in a publication, you can update them if they become modified or relink them if PageMaker loses the link (because you moved the graphic or the document).
To update an image, select the graphic in the Links Manager dialog box and hit the Update button. To relink an image if the link has been broken, select the image in the Links Manager, hit the Info button, and search through your hard drives to find the image. When you have found it, or the one you want to replace it with, select it in the Link Info dialog box and hit the Link button. PageMaker will then update the link or import the new image instead. If you substituted one image for another with the Link button, PageMaker will tell you the image has been modified. You must then hit the Update button in the Links Manager dialog box to actually import the screen preview of the image into your document.

Building better masks

Extensis MaskPro helps decide the line of what to keep and what to toss
When working in Adobe Photoshop, masking or selecting images can be the most challenging, labor intensive, time- consuming and highly-frustrating job a designer may face. Have you ever tried to make a complex selection around someone's head with a lot of wispy hair sticking out? Then you know how difficult making complex selections can be.
But there is help to be had. Extensis MaskPro (www.extensis.com) is a Photoshop plug-in that alleviates most of the hassle of masking images. Instead of tracing lines, the user chooses the colors he wants to keep and the colors he wants to drop from the image. Using the brush controls, the size, edge and intensity of the masking tool can be quickly and easily adjusted accordingly.
If you make complex masks around images in Photoshop at least once a week, MaskPro is a real lifesaver. There is nothing more frustrating then spending a lot of time editing a selection and converting it into a clipping path around the image only to have it look crummy when it is imported into your page-layout application.
MaskPro also offers a clipping path generator that is superior to Photoshop's in speed, ease of use and quality. Priced under $200 dollars, MaskPro is a bargain for those tortured souls who commonly use clipping paths in their designs and make them from scratch.

Dot deficit don'ts

In photo/graphics edit program, why typing in a larger number for resolution is not a good thing The number one problem with image resolution is not having enough. When preparing your high-resolution images in Adobe Photoshop, make sure the resolution is high enough so no pixelation occurs. If you find your image has too low a resolution, the best thing to do is to rescan. Whatever you do, don't upsample the image.
Simply put - In Photoshop under Image > Image Size... in the Resolution box, don't type in a larger number. This is called upsampling and can cause problems.
Photoshop images are made up of lots of little dots (like 300 dots per inch or dpi). These are called raster images because each color is recorded in a cell and the grid of cells is called a raster. They contain a fixed number of pixels to represent image data.
If a raster image is printed at too low a resolution, your image may appear jagged, fuzzy or soft-edged. Trying to fix this problem by typing in a higher number won't make the image look any sharper or more detailed, just bigger.
Adobe Illustrator and Macromedia Freehand create vector images, which are made up of mathematical equations called vectors. They can be infinitely scaled and are device independent. That means they will print smoothly and at the maximum resolution of an output device. Unlike vector images, you only get so many dots to work with in a raster image.
There are some strategies that can help you prevent running into resolution problems. One is to have your images scanned oversized or at a higher resolution than your standard procedure. Many times, cropping an image will drop the resolution too low, so having extra inches and pixels to work with saves time, money and grief. But don't use images that are too oversized, and be sure to scale them down for the final output. Ultra-large images can bog down printing, design work and the whole process in general.
One trick to eke out more resolution in an image is to use a smaller version in your design. Instead of using an image large, try building a border or some other design element around it.
If you absolutely have no option but to upsample, type in a number that is 1.5 to 2 times the line screen of your print job and choose Bicubic next to the Resample Image drag down box. This is a last resort measure and is risky.
Remember that we suggest using a resolution of 1.5 to 2 times the line screen of your print job without upsampling. For example, for a 150-line screen print job your images should be between 225 and 300 dpi.

Unsharp mask

Don't be afraid of this mask! In Photoshop, using Unsharp Mask is an important step in image editing
When describing or judging the quality of a photograph, sharpness is one of the top considerations. Is the image blurry or sharp? If an image is not sharp, it is less lifelike and the quality is diminished. Loss of sharpness in images is inevitable in the production process. In every step, from taking the photo to the printed page, image definition is lost. Even the most sophisticated film scanners loose edge detail. Images from low-end flatbed scanners and digital cameras lose a considerable amount of sharpness during the scanning process. Halftoning further degrades sharpness in an image by the very nature of the process.
But there is a simple and sometimes misunderstood way to battle the blurries that has its roots in a traditional prepress method. Photoshop offers a few sharpening filters including Sharpen Edges and Sharpen More. But it is Unsharp Mask that should be used in prepress production.
The Unsharp Mask filter enhances the sharpness of an image by increasing the difference between dark and light areas. By increasing this contrast, the eye interprets these differences as sharp edges.
When the Unsharp Mask filter is applied, it compares each pixel in an image to its neighbor. It then increases the contrast between dark and light pixels and improves overall sharpness. When increasing this contrast, the Unsharp Mask filter creates a halo around objects.
The halo effect is how the Unsharp Mask works its magic. But, if the eye can perceive the halo, then the image has been over-sharpened. It is better to under-sharpen than have an image where everything has a halo around it. Fortunately, the settings of the Unsharp Mask offer precise control and experimenting with them will help you understand this powerful filter better.

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