Genuine Fractals Print Pro
Altamira's resolution-enhancing Photoshop plugin

by Dave Nagel
Senior Producer

Genuine Fractals Print Pro Summary

Publisher: Altamira Group
Price/Availability: $299/Now

Overall Impression: A reliable product for emergency graphics situations when you need to enhance the resolution of a photographic image.

Key Benefits: Genuine Fractals Print Pro does a nice job of of providing some additional dots per inch when needed. It works best on medium-resolution images and provides image scalability with a small file size.

Disappointments: An image can only be enhanced so much, no matter how hard you wish you could make it otherwise. This product uses an awful lot of RAM (128 MB application memory in Photoshop to enlarge a small image 800 percent) and is significantly slower than Photoshop's built-in interpolation.

Recommendation: Buy.

You're an art director. You're just finishing up the June issue of Disposable Cup Industry Magazine™, and, so far, it looks great. Creative layouts, lots of color, fancy graphics: This issue has it all. In fact, you're even thinking about entering it in the Maggie Awards design category for trade magazines with circulations of less than 50,000. All that's left is your guest column section. It's laid out nicely, with sharp-looking pullquotes and a beautiful standing head. Then the guest columnist's photo arrives and an e-mail attachment. It looks like it was shot on an instant camera and scanned in at 36 DPI. On top of that, it's been compressed as a JPEG.

There goes the big award.

In print, you encounter the problem quite often: You need a graphic to go with a story, but all you have is a 72 DPI JPEG that measures 2" x 1.25". That'll look fine on the Web, assuming it's a good picture, but on the printed page, it stands out as remedial. Readers don't like it. Writers don't like it. And you, the graphics director, certainly aren't going to be winning any awards with it.

So what do you do? Change the resolution in Photoshop? That doesn't help anything. You can change the resolution and then apply some filters to help hide the original edge pixels, but that's a pain, and it doesn't always give you the desired results. Anyway, it doesn't work on mug shots.

This is why there's such a thing as Genuine Fractals Print Pro from Altamira Group. This $299 Photoshop plugin can enhance the resolution of any image with a minimum of hassle. Let's take a look at an example.

The mug shot
Every magazine art director's nightmare is dealing with low-quality mug shots that just hang lifelessly on the page, contributing almost nothing to an article. Yet, for some reason, contributing writers and editors demand the presence of these hideous monstrosities on your otherwise beautiful pages. What's worse is that these days all too many of these images come to you as tiny JPEGs, nowhere near suitable for print. With a deadline of tomorrow, you don't have time to collect the original photograph and send it out to prepress for scanning. Here's the image you've received.

The original JPEG at print size.
Detail from the original.
Image interpolated in Photoshop to 300 DPI without using Print Pro.

That just isn't going to cut the mustard. So we're going to bring the image into Genuine Fractals Print Pro. This is a two-step process. First we save the image in GF Print Pro format. (After installing the plugin, this becomes an option in the Save and Save As dialog box.) Make sure the image is in CMYK format before saving it. Step 2 is simply to reopen the document. The new document with have a .stn extension. When you open it, the Genuine Fractals Print Pro dialog pops up.