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GETTING READY: Preparing Your Images for the Web

Getting your artwork ready for the web is a process very different from getting it ready for printing. All that stuff about dots per inch (DPI), lines per inch (LPI) and resolution? You still need to know it, but you'll need to learn other numbers, as well. One of the main differences between preparing artwork for printing and preparing artwork for the screen

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SCAN IT

The price of scanners, like the rest of technology, has become more and more affordable each year--decent quality scanners can be purchased for less than $100. If you don't already own a scanner and are in the market for a scanner, here are a few links to get you started on your scanner-buying mission:

  • Need a good place to begin? Check out 'what to look for in a scanner' where Cnet's experts explain the 'specs that matter' (http://reviews.cnet.com/Scanners/4520-3136_7-5020735-1.html)
  • When you have a better idea of what features you're looking for, head on over to Cnet's Scanner Reviews. You can search reviews by price range or manufacturer. ( http://reviews.cnet.com/Scanners/2001-3136_7-0.html)
  • Now that you've got your eye on one scanner in particular, visit MySimon to find the best price. MySimon is a free comparison-shopping service that looks for an item and compares pricing from hundreds of online stores. (www.mysimon.com)

PERFECT SCANNING THE FIRST TIME

Now that your scanner is hooked up and ready to go, it's time to get your artwork web-ready. Here are a few tips for digitizing your artwork right the first time.

FREE UP YOUR RESOURCES

Scanning is a memory-intensive application for your computer. If you're running many programs simultaneously, or are working in an image editing or word processing program at the same time you're trying to scan, your computer might decide to stop working. Consider closing other memory-hogging programs before you start scanning.

SETTING THE SETTINGS

There's a fine line to be aware of when scanning your artwork or photography—the resolution line. If you scan it at too low of a resolution, your artwork will come out grainy and blotchy…scanning it at too high of a resolution will make it a large file, rendering it difficult to manipulate.

We suggest scanning your artwork or photographs (no matter if they're color, black and white or grayscale) with the following settings:

  • 150 dots per inch. Computer monitors show images at 72dpi. Scanning an image at a resolution of 150dpi gives you some 'play' in determining image sizing without creating an unwieldy large file.
  • 16 million colors. Always scan your artwork, no matter how many colors it contains, with the most number of colors possible. Why? Because getting the best scan initially means that you'll have a better source to manipulate in an image editing program. Your scanning program is for scanning…you can tweak settings and options like curves, level, hue and brightness in a program better suited for image manipulation.

JPEG or GIF?

JPEG (or JPG)

  • The preferred format for photographs
  • Reduces file size from 0-99%
  • A lossy compression (each time they are saved, they are compressed again. More image information is lost and cannot be restored)

GIF

  • The preferred format for images with a few distinct colors (logos, clip art, black and white images)
  • Reduces file size by 30-50%
  • Handles images of 256 colors or less
  • Allows transparency and animation
  • A lossless compression (each time they are saved, no data is lost)

ADVANCED TIP: Use PhotoShop Actions

Let's say you have a series of artwork or photographs that all need similar tweaks. Perhaps you want to add a drop shadow, correct brightness and contrast or do any other task to a number of different photos. Is there a way to tweak one image and then magically tweak other images with the same settings? Yes, there is. PhotoShop actions.

Record actions

Available in PhotoShop 4.0 and later, recording actions allow you to execute a series of commands on a single file or several files.

  • Open a file
  • Locate the action palette (choose Window > Show Actions to see the palette)
  • Choose 'New Action' from the palette menu, then name the action
  • Click 'Record.' Then perform the tasks you want to record (e.g. change contrast, brightness, add drop shadow, etc.)
  • When you've finished your task, choose 'Stop Recording' from the Actions Palette

Play actions

Playing an action means that all the tasks and commands that you recorded will be applied to a different file.

  • Open the file you want to apply changes to
  • Locate the action palette (choose Window > Show Actions to see the palette)
  • Select the action name and choose 'Play' from the Actions Palette
  • Save your image with its new changes

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