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Photoshop Tips: The Digital Darkroom Target Workflow
Optimizing your image correction process

by Julieanne Kost
Special to Creative Mac

[Editor's note: This is the first in what we hope to be a long series covering the nuts and bolts of very specific processes in Adobe Photoshop. It has been supplied to us by Adobe themselves and written by their own graphic arts expert, Julieanne Kost. This series is not a sales pitch but, rather, expert tips for graphics professionals from the very folks who make the software. Please let us know what you think. And, if you have any further need of assistance, please visit us in the Adobe Photoshop Worldwide User Group. —Dave]

The first three steps in creating the best image are done before you ever get into Photoshop. The first step, and the most difficult, is capturing the image that expresses what you are trying to communicate. From there, examining the original (the second step), will help you to select the image with the best exposure and tonal range. As a general rule, if the detail isn't there in the original, it's very difficult to make it up! The third step is getting a good scan. Even if the original is great, if the scan doesn't capture the information, then you'll have to get it from somewhere else or, create it yourself. In other words, garbage in, garbage out!

Open the image
Once you have the scan, select File > Open and navigate to the image. If the image's perspective needs to be corrected, select View > Show Rulers and drag out any guides that might be helpful in straightening the image. If you prefer to use the grid, select View > Show Grid. Note: to change the layout of the grid lines, select File > Preferences > Guides and Grid.

Straighten the image
Choose Select > All to select the entire image. Then, select Edit > Transform > Distort. Using the transformation handles, drag the corners inwards (to interpolate down, not up)until the image is straight.

Crop the image
From the tool palette, select the crop tool. Drag the crop marquee around the area that you want to crop. Note: if you don't make the crop area correct on the first drag, use the handles to redefine the crop area. With the area defined, either double click inside of the crop area or hit the enter or return key to apply the crop.

Resize the image
To make sure that you are working with a file that is just the right size, select Image > Image Size. Uncheck the Resample Image button and enter the dimensions that you desire in the Print Size area. If you don't have enough total pixels in the image to print at the desired size, re-scan the image. If you have more than enough total pixels, uncheck the Resample Image button and enter the correct dimensions.

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Julieanne Kost is graphic arts evangelist for Adobe Systems Inc. For more information on Adobe, please visit http://www.adobe.com.