How to create the perfect print
From resizing to colour management, we’ll take you through every stage of the process
01 Set print size
Open printing_start.jpg. Let’s make an 8x10-inch print. Click on Image>Size. Check the Resample Image and Constrain Proportions boxes. Set Resolution to 300 pixels/inch (360 if you have an Epson printer). In the Document Size drop-down, select Inches. Change Width to 10.
03 Resample the image
Now look at the top line of the box – Pixel Dimensions: 15.4M (was 18.7M). This tells you that your image has been made smaller (see below). In the drop-down menu at the bottom select Bicubic Sharper if you’re making your image smaller, and Bicubic Smoother if you’re making it larger.
02 Cut to fit
Now the Height is only six inches and we wanted an 8x10inch print. You could uncheck Constrain Proportions and set the Height to 8, but this will stretch the image. You could crop some off the length of the image, or go with the reduced height and trim the paper later. We’ll go with 6x10in.
04 Tidy it up
Now check and prepare the image for printing. Go to Layer> Flatten Image if you have multiple layers. If this is a black and white print, go to Image>Mode>Grayscale for the best neutrality and to avoid colour casts. Some printers will only handle eight bits; if so select Image>Mode>8Bits/Channel.
05 Stay sharp
The last change to make to an image before printing should always be sharpening. This is a destructive step and is only effective at the chosen resolution. Select Layer>Duplicate Layer and click OK. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask (Enhance>Unsharp Mask in Elements). Set Radius to 1 pixel for printing when you’re at your printer’s native resolution.
07 Set the Amount
Push Amount up to 200 and you’ll notice a halo appears around the lamp post. You need to go down to about 15 to remove it, but the printer is a very blunt instrument, so about 75 will be fine for most printers. You may need to test this with your printer and paper combination because you want the crispest possible edges but without halos. Hit OK.
09 Save a copy
Your file has been resampled and sharpened specifically for printing at this particular size. For all other purposes the file has been ‘damaged’, so keep the original image as your master file in case you want to reprint it at a different size later. To save the image now, make sure you use File>Save As, set Format to Photoshop, and change the filename.
06 Set the Threshold
Threshold determines which pixels/edges will be sharpened; the higher the number, the stronger the edge has to be before it is sharpened. Always have Threshold at 2 or above (a setting of 0 will try to sharpen every pixel – it won’t be pretty!). Set it to 5 for this image. Zoom the window to 100% and drag the thumbnail so you can view a lamp post.
08 Add a Layer Mask
Go to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All. Select the Brush tool (B) and set Hardness to 0%, Size to 200, Opacity and Flow to 100%, and foreground colour to white. Brush over the pier edges, supports and the shoreline, but not the smooth sky or water, as we don’t want to sharpen them. Pick Layer> Flatten Image and you have an image ready for the printer.
10 Print it!
Go to File>Print. There are two ways to handle printer profiles: Printer Manages Colours or Photoshop Manages Colours (in Elements 9, click on More Options first). If you’re using your printer manufacturer’s paper and inks, continue to step 11. Skip to Step 12 if you have an Epson printer, and if you’re using third-party inks or paper, skip to Step 13.
11 Own brand paper and inks
If you’re using your printer manufacturer’s paper and inks, select Printer Manages Colours and choose Print Settings. In the printer driver choose Photo Printing, pick your Paper Type, select High Quality, then Paper Size and Auto Colour. Vivid Photo works well for colourful images. Hit OK, then Print, and you’re done!
13 Third-party paper and inks
Go to File>Print and set the Colour Handling drop-down menu to Photoshop Manages Colours, set Rendering Intent to Relative Colormetric and tick the Black point Compensation box. Select the Printer Profile for your paper and ink in the drop-down box. Hit the Print Settings button to go into the printer driver. Epson users, skip to Step 15.
15 Epson drivers
Choose Best Photo, your Paper Type and Paper Size, then select Advanced and set Photo RPM. Set Colour Management to ICM and select Off (No Colour Adjustment) – this is very important! Turn off High Speed and Edge Smoothing for utmost quality. Hit OK, then Print. And that’s it, you’re done.
12 Epson printers
Select Printer Manages Colours and choose Print Settings. In the printer driver choose Best Photo, select your Paper Type and Paper Size, then select Advanced and set Photo RPM and Auto Colour. Epson Vivid works well for brightly coloured images. Turn off High Speed and Edge Smoothing. Hit OK, then Print.
14 Canon and other drivers
Choose Normal Photo Printing, select the Paper Type that your paper manufacturer recommends, select High Quality, pick your Paper Size, and go to the main tab. Click Colour/ Intensity, switch to Manual and hit Set. Under the Matching tab in the Manual Colour Adjustment, select None – this is important! Hit OK, hit OK again, then Print. You’re done.