Resizing an image is one of the many tasks that Photoshop is capable of, although there are tons of software specializing in the same. Why do we need Photoshop then, you may ask? Adobe Photoshop is the absolute ABC of anything related to pixels in today’s world, and with Photoshop, you can actually understand and control what is happening to your images. You may even get to the point of refining the images for each of the media you want it to be used in, like Facebook, Insta, etc. and get the best out of the social world.
Let us begin with the short instructions on how to actually resize in Photoshop, and later dig into the technical aspects depeding on what your goal with resizing is.
How to Resize in Photoshop CC
- Open your image in Photoshop CC.
- Go to Image > Image Size
- Enter the Width or Height of the resized image.
- To maintain the proportions of your image, click the box next to “Constrain Proportions”.
- Enter the preferred DPI under Resolution. (find out more on resolution further down).
- Click OK to resize the image
- Save the Image.
Done. This is the straightforward way to resize your image. However, there is more to resizing images depending on what you will use it for. So the above approach is quick, but digging into the details of resizing will give you better results.
Resizing for Smaller File Size
Sometimes, all we want to do is compress the image size in terms of the MBs or KBs. RAW files are huge, and although photographers love full-sized JPEGs, they are huge too. They can be storage, transfer, backup, and sharing nightmare, apart from being extremely difficult to be shared over e-mails. Whatsapp and Facebook have their own compression and uses their algorithm to make the best out of it. We will deal with Facebook later.
In Photoshop we have the useful ‘Save for Web’ option allowing us to cut megabytes of the image-size.
Save for Web in Photoshop is a life-saver. Just a short key Alt+Shift+Ctrl+S, and we open up to the window of possibilities.
We can save our files in formats such as PNG, GIF, and JPEG. We can compress in terms of quality and size both, and see a real-time preview (of course depending on how fast your workstation performs) of the final size, and can zoom to the pixel level to see the final quality. This works similar to a magic wand. It is especially great because it allows us to save in PNG too. More about PNG will follow up later.
The Lossless PNG
The common problem we have while sharing photos online is the compression. Whether it is sharing photos on Facebook or Whatsapp, in their original form and size, there’s an amount of compression involved. This creates banding often, and an image of 4mb may turn to 200-300 KB based on the site’s algorithm and nothing else. There are workarounds, but those are applicable only for tech-enabled people, like sharing as documents on Whatsapp. For most people, you need to make things easier. It could be your clients or exhibitors, so you need to keep the process fairly simple. Saving as PNG is a protection of sorts, wherein if you reduce size enough, it will not be compressed beyond recognition.
I know what you’re thinking. PNG is for transparency, right? Well partially. PNG is a format that allows the alpha channel of an image to show itself, unlike JPEG. However, PNG is a lossless format, and it doesn’t get compressed when sharing anywhere. PNG is one of the formats that has provided the best results for image sharing, but it doesn’t give you the smallest file-size though if this is your goal.
Downsizing for Websites
If you are posting images for the websites, you surely want the quality to be upright. But the thing about photography is that you have plenty of images, and you want the loading time of a website to be as low as possible. This makes it even more important to optimize the image sizes. Sometimes, using simply the Save for Web will suffice. For other times, you may need to go deeper into the pixels. We know photographers love to work on 300 dpi.
Fun Fact: An image at 300 dpi and 1 dpi is the same when displayed on the web. But, a lower dpi image is not easy to print.
That is unless you are using the high-end devices of today which actually require 300 dpi images, which allow for zooming in and better overall controls. For most of the images though, especially if you don’t require zoom feature on your own website gallery, it is easier to use a lower dpi in the images you resize and export in Photoshop. Go for around 72 or 96 dpi, to reduce the size of the image drastically without anyone noticing an inch of a difference. How to actually achieve it? We open any raw file. Go to Image > Image Size. Change the image to 72 dpi with resampling to Preserve Details 2.0 or Automatic.
Another way to actually downsize images for the website is to reduce the size. In pixel terms, all we need is a maximum of 2000 by 2000 in most cases. It means we can actually allow ourselves the luxury of cutting down excess pixels. For print, we will need them. For the web, we can simply reduce them. Rather than making the images appear duller, it actually has a positive impact on the image viewing experience. You may ask how. The answer lies in the fact that for a large image, you need larger screens to see them properly. This is why photographers often end up adding a disclaimer full-screen view recommended. Most of the people today browse images on mobiles. If we size the images properly, we will improve their experience and not diminish it in any way.
Automatic Resample Option In the Image Size Tool
Adobe has made successive efforts to improve a feature that is now simply irresistible. They had started with Bicubic Sampler, which would improve details, but with a softening effect. There was also Preserve Details which often left artifacts. In the resample option for image enlargement, the third new option (now in-built in Adobe CC 2020) is Preserve Details 2.0. All you need to do now is to enter the size you want the image to be and check the resample, with the drop-down to Preserve Details 2.0. You won’t need any other option anymore.
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The Crop Tool: The Master Tool for Resizing, Including Upsizing
Did you know that the Crop tool does way more than you ever imagined? Perhaps not. The crop tool is the perfect tool for changing the aspect ratio, fitting the images to your desired size and dpi, among other things. What is amazing is that it is a mostly underused tool. It is merely used as an aspect ratio correction tool, which can easily be done in any software. An important observation lies in the fact that any tool in Photoshop does more than what it is supposed to do.
You can use the crop tool for upsizing the images. It was previously one of the best ways to upsize an image, going back to Photoshop 7. When we needed to make an image larger than it was, we would go to the crop tool, enter the dimensions we need, and crop it accordingly. Of course, it takes away some of the sharpness of the image. This can be enhanced using an unsharp mask, or adding a high pass layer and turning the mode to overlay or linear light. This way, you get the size of the image to the exact pixel, and you can still manage it perfectly.
Resizing with Content Fill for Aspect Ratio Changes
Often, we have to change the aspect ratio of the images while posting. Sometimes, part of our main image may be cut off. This can be solved by using a content-aware fill that does an amazing job if the backgrounds don’t have any objects. Ideal to work with to expand the backgrounds, the content-aware fill is a life-saver when using images apart from their original intended use. For example, a vertically shot image with a decent margin taken may still be off the hooks for a banner unless a content-aware fill is used. Let’s have a look at how it works:
- Import the image in Photoshop
- Double click the image and click okay to turn it into ‘layer 0’ from ‘background’.
- Use the Crop tool to crop it in the way you would like, letting transparent pixels enter the frame.
- Select the area slightly more than the transparent pixels.
- Right-click in the selection and select ‘Fill’ from the drop-down menu.
- Select Content-Aware and hit enter.
- There may be some weird content-aware artifacts around the corner. Fix them using the patch tool (content-aware).
- Iron out any edge issues with patch tool (normal), healing brush tool or spot healing brush tool.
- You have successfully changed the aspect ratio while resizing the image and filling out the transparent pixels naturally.
Resizing for web and print, and the differences in Photoshop
The differences between resizing for web and print happen in terms of color modes, dpi, and picture size. The major pointers to look for are the compression, the dpi, and the way we measure image. For the web, we look at the final image in terms of pixels, for example, 1920 by 1080. In terms of print, we look at an image in terms of inches or centimeters.
For example, 12 by 17 inches. The measurement is based according to these terms, and the dpi is a second factor. For print, we prefer 300 or 600 dpi. For the web, we are okay even with 72 dpi. Often, some printers allow printing 72 or 96 dpi, but it varies from printer to printer, and usually produces a less crisp image.
If you have a lot of images to resize you can take the workload out of resizing and sharpening each and every image in Photoshop for web use. We have created a set of Professional Photoshop actions to help you do this. These actions can help you get sharper resized images in no time without all the hassle sharpening and resizing using a specific and proven method for the best result. You can find the actions here.
The Color Modes and Formats
The second factor to look for is the color modes. For the web, sRGB is the color mode. For print, it is either Adobe RGB or CMYK. Sometimes, we even go towards the Lab Colors. Instead of converting the images to these color modes, in the end, we tend to start by converting the images first, primarily based on the instructions from our photo lab about the settings they print in. This helps in the better calibration of colors and removes chances of hue shift and brightness issues owing to change in color modes.
The image format is another big issue. JPEGs are the most common web format. As discussed earlier, PNG manages to do what JPEG does, albeit at lower compression and slightly higher sizes. For print, however, we trust the PNG, TIFF, or PSD. Sometimes, we accept even PDF for print. It is because JPEG is a lossy format with an irreversible loss due to compression. The other formats mentioned do not have the same constraints and are more accurate at color and details reproduction. However, because JPEG is able to cut a lot of MBs of the image size, JPEG is still preferred when we want to resize an image for web use.
Resizing for social media
Resizing for social media basically involves all the methods used above in different ways. For example, an Instagram story is 1080 by 1920. Hence, you need to crop the image to those dimensions. In case it showcases transparent pixels, you can always use a content-aware fill tool. Or, you could do this:
- Create a new file of size 1080 by 1920 or open the image and crop it to 1080 by 1920
- Import the image you wish to use and place it edge to edge, where it fits the frame (but does not fill, also do not change aspect ratio).
- Duplicate this layer. Now reduce the size of the duplicated layer by 10%.
- Go back to the lower layer and increase the size so that it is about 10-20% more than the frame’s largest edge.
- Add Gaussian blur to this layer between 25-50.
- Add stoke from fx and use a 5 pixel or less black or white stroke (depending on contrast and taste)
- Save this and add text and other features in the Instagram app.
Depending on the various social media sizes, which are listed below, you can resize your image – be it with cropping, filling, or patching, upscaling or downscaling.
Common Image Sizes for Social Media:
- Cover image: 820 x 312 (minimum 400 x 150)
- Profile image: ≥180 x 180
- Shared post image: 1200 x 630
- Shared link preview image: 1200 x 628
- Event image: 1920 x 1080
- Header image: 1500 x 500 | maximum 5 MB
- Profile image: 400 x 400 | maximum 2 MB
- In-stream image: 440 x 220
- Profile image: 110 x 110
- Image thumbnail: 161 x 161
- Shared photos: 1080 x 1080
- Shared videos: 1080 pixels wide
- Instagram Stories: 1080 x 1920 (minimum 600 x 1067) | maximum 4 GB
- Profile image: 165 x 165 | maximum 10 MB
- Board cover image: 222 x 150 (minimum 55 x 55)
- Pinned image preview: 236 pixels wide
- Banner image: 1584 x 396 | maximum 4 MB
- Profile image: 400 x 400 (minimum 200 x 200) | maximum 10 MB
- Company Cover Image: 1536 x 768
- Shared image: 350 pixels wide
- Shared link preview: 180 x 110
- Company logo image: 300 x 300 | maximum 4 MB
- Company cover image: 1536 x 768 (minimum 1192 x 220) | maximum 4 MB
- Company page banner image: 646 x 220 | maximum 2 MB
- Square logo (appears in company searches): 60 x 60 | maximum 2 MB
- Channel cover images: 2560 x 1440 | maximum 4 MB
- Channel icon: 800 x 800
- Video thumbnail: 1280 x 720
Photoshop is not a resizing tool. But Photoshop is an all-in-one tool that does everything so perfectly that we barely need anything else. Turning our favorite and frequent usage patterns into actions can also save us from monotony with regards to image resizing.