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Welcome to Q+A Tuesday!

Mmmm. I love Tuesdays. :) Feels like you’ve gotten over that big lump that Monday sometimes is. There’s still enough week left that you don’t feel like it’s a total loss, but not so much that you get overwhelmed and want to go hide in your covers.

 At least that’s what today is. Next Tuesday might be different.

 I’ll post answers to the questions on yesterday’s post throughout the day. They do NOT have to be strictly Photoshop (PSE, PSCS/CS2/CS3), Photo organization, or digital scrapbooking related. Printing, (basic) photography, fonts, anything is fair game.

Here we go:

This question is from Anniebananie (thank you - it’s a good one). :)

Q: In one of the DD chat’s you had us resize the photo and change the pixels to 300. Does this affect the quality of the photo? Normally, I bring in the photo as is and use the corners to resize. Is there a reason I should change the pixels when cropping?


A: The short answer: The quality of your photo is not affected by changing its resolution to 300 pixels per inch.

The longer answer: 300 pixels per inch is considered the standard for high-quality printable layouts and photos. When you create a new blank layout, you set the dpi (dots per inch, also known as pixels per inch) to 300. So what you’re actually doing when you crop a photo and set it to 300 is matching its resolution with the resolution of your layout.  Whatever you drag onto that layout automatically resizes to 300 dpi to conform to the dimensions of the layout - which can give unpredictable results. When you’re cropping a photo to a specific size (say a 5x7), make sure the photo resolution and the layout resolution match, and you won’t have any resizing issues when you pull it in to your layout.

Next question is from Annette (and I’ll throw Barb’s question in here as well).

Q: How to organize stuff is a big question!


A:  I love it! And this is a big question. There are several photo/scrap supply organization tools out there.

  •  Photoshop Elements Editor - allows you to view your photos at a glance, make quick edits, and then open photos for further editing in Photoshop Elements. Even allows viewing of .RAW files, for those of you who shoot photos in RAW format. You can right-click a photo in the Organizer and choose ratings or keywords, or you can add photos to collections.
  • Picasa is a free application from Google. If you set it to “watch” specific folders (such as the folders where you’re putting new photos or new scrap supplies) it’ll automatically update. You can star photos you like, or hide photos you don’t, but no rating. (Windows only).
  • ACDSee is a newer product that has both a Photo Editor and a Photo Manager. The Photo Manager allows you to rate photos, and add keywords and categories.
  • Adobe Bridge. Comes free with Adobe Photoshop CS2/CS3. Has search/keyword/rating functions, and allows you to save sets of things (say you’re working on a layout) in a visual “set”.

As for me, I use a combination of Picasa, Bridge, and Windows Explorer. Since I do so much in BOTH Elements (for instructions) and PSCS2 (for my own scrapbook work), I like that Picasa isn’t tied to either product, and I can view my photos easily there. Love the “watched folders” feature.

For my scrapbook supplies, I use Windows Explorer. I have a folder for each store (because I need to keep supply lists straight), and inside of that folder I have sub-folders for Kits, and then for specific supplies that didn’t come as kits, such as Alphas, Brushes, etc. I keep my Thumbnails view turned on in Windows XP, and it shows me quick previews of what is inside each folder. In addition, I drag out the kit preview into the root folder, so I can see all my kits from a specific store at a glance.

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The most important thing here, is finding a system that works for you. If you find it too much of a pain to split up your kits into their components (papers, brushes, alpha, etc.) then just leave them in their folders, and pull out the preview to a common folder for easy viewing (in Elements Organizer, Picasa, ACDsee, whatev.).

One more note - brush organization. I recommend NOT loading all the brushes you own into Photoshop at once. Elements 5 won’t even let you, so you’re safe there. But it’ll make your system run really slowly, and can cause other problems. So for brushes. You can either organize them by store, or simply have a folder for Brushes, and pull all your brush sets in there. The great thing about brushes is that they often come either with a brush preview .jpg, which you can see in Windows Explorer or any of the other products, and they also come with .png files of the brushes themselves, which you can also view in your manager of choice.

This is a complicated topic, because organizing stuff is complicated. :) We should have more discussions about this, since everyone does things differently, and I’m sure there are a TON of great ideas floating around! :)

 Next question is from Joanie.

Q: Also fonts! I need to get rid of some from windows directory - too many, but How do I store elsewhere and can I use in PSE4 without having in the windows directory?


A: Because of the added complexity, I  don’t really recommend uninstalling all your fonts and keeping them just for use on specific projects - I’m more of the out of sight, out of mind mentality, and for me at least, if it’s not in front of my face, I have totally forgotten about it. :) Sure, if you are a professional graphic designer with 10,000 fonts, yes. You need different management. But for those of us with just a couple hundred or a couple thousand, I say leave them installed. What I recommend is that you get a good font manager. There is a very decent font manager that is FREE, and you can’t beat free, right? It’s called the Font Thing, and it’ll recognize all the fonts you have on your system, and allow you to create categories to organize them. It provides a big preview pane, and lets you type your text in to see it. I use this program all the time. Every day. Seriously.

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Next one’s also from Joanie 

Q: How do I get the pictures that are in my PSE4 organizer cleared that, but still have access-is that possible and will that give me more room on my computer?


A: Great question. Think of Elements Organizer as a view into your system. If it’s on your computer and it’s an image file, Elements Organizer is going to try to find it and show it to you.  So there are two things going on here.

  1. If you just don’t want to see something in the Organizer, right-click and choose Remove from Catalog, or just click a photo and hit Delete. (This pops up a box with the option to remove your photo/image from the hard disk as well, which you should NOT do if you don’t have a backup.) So in this case, Delete means hide.  Hiding things has no effect on the amount of room on your computer.
  2. If you want to create more room on your computer, you’ll need to back things up to an external device/media. This can be CDs or DVDs, an external hard drive, or even an online backup service like Carbonite. You should always have all your files in at least two places - whether that’s in a remote place + DVDs, or whether that’s your hard drive + DVDs/CDs, or DVDs/CDs + an external hard drive, our photos are too precious to trust to just one location. But after you’ve got them in at least two places (and you’ve checked and re-checked a couple times), you can delete them from your hard drive and free up some space there.
Next up, a good Photoshop question from Cathy.


Q:  Is there a way to measure an element that is floating in the page?


ETA: There’s a great tip from Christine that I’d like to add in here (Thanks Christine, I had forgotten about ctrl-click to select the item). 

A:  You can get the measurements of any item. Go to Window > Info to get out your Info palette. Now target the layer where your floating element is, and Ctrl-click on its thumbnail. This will select that element. The object’s width and height show up in the Info palette.

This one is from Stephanie

Q: Everyone always says not to resave and resave your JPEGS. However, when I move them around, say from file to file, or like recently, on to an external hardrive, am I not resaving them in the process?


A: Good question. You’re right - it’s not a good idea to resave .jpg files, because you will just keep losing image data. It’s just like making a photocopy of a photocopy, then photocopying that one, and so on until the whole thing is black and scratchy and unreadable.

To answer your specific question - if you pull a .jpg photo into a .jpg layout and save that, are you losing image quality? Probably not, at least not the first time you save it, especially if your layout is 300 dpi print quality. But if you open a photo, make edits to it (such as cropping, sharpening, color adjustment), then save that photo and then open the saved photo later to make MORE edits to it and then save that file as a .jpg, you might be losing quality.  That’s why it’s always best to open your original when you’re going to make changes.

For your second question - if you are moving things around within your filesystem, or saving them to an external  hard drive or burning them to CDs, you are not losing image quality.

From Chris:

Q: Where did you learn all this?

A:  I started out as a web designer in about 1998 - Jared and I used to build web sites for people on the side. I did the design work in Fireworks (an old Macromedia product), but was able to translate a lot of that knowledge to Photoshop, which I used when I worked as a user interface designer for a software company in St. Paul, MN for about 5 years. That’s when I really feel like I started to understand Photoshop in some small ways. And I practice every day. :)

Also from Chris:

Q: I would like to post some of my pages from your directions. How do I do this?


  1. Make sure you have saved your final .psd. You’ll have to go through all these steps again every time you save for the web. Oh, and make SURE you have this original saved in a safe place. :)
  2. Go to Image > Resize > Image Size. In the Image Size box that appears:
  • Type 72 for the Resolution
  • Set the Resample Image dropdown to: Bicubic Sharper (this means that when Photoshop is deciding what pixels to keep and what to throw away, it’ll do so in a way that makes your image sharper rather than blurrier. A good thing.)
  • If you are posting to a specific gallery, check out the height and width requirements, if any, and type those into the Width and Height boxes. Leaving it at 864 will give you a full 12x12 layout at 72 dpi.
  • Click OK.
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  1. Sharpen your layout a bit. In PSE 5, go to Enhance > Adjust Sharpness.   Try 85%, .5 pixels, and adjust from there. Click OK.
  2. Go to File > Save for Web. In the Save for Web dialog box, there is a slider that allows you to determine the compression level, and thus affect your file size. I can usually get a 12x12 layout in the 150-250K range at about 60% quality. If you have a file size requirement that is smaller than this, go back and scale your layout down a bit and try it again.
  3. Click OK and choose a name and location for your web-sized layout. I recommend keeping these in a different folder from your other images, just to make things easier. Close your layout without saving. I repeat, DO NOT save your resized layout, or you will be very sad later on. Trust me on that one.

 A good question from Shannon:

Q: How do you keep track of which brush is in which set when they have names like On the Edge No. 3 Brushes?

 A: To be honest, this is the difficult part. There are two ways. One is to take good advantage of the .png files that are included with almost every brush set. Since these are regular image files, they’ll be visible in programs like Picasa, or you can view them using the Thumbnail view in Windows Explorer.

The other way is to install them all and stamp each one individually. :P But seriously, most of the time I narrow it down to one or two brush sets using the methods above, then install them both and start playing in Photoshop to decide which exact one makes it on the page. :)

Whew! I’ll get through a couple more questions later! 


More Q+A :)

Q+A Tuesday :)