Get your images print-ready in Photoshop
Dani Dixon shows you how to prepare your images for print from start to finish in this Photoshop tutorial
Preparing images for print can differ depending on where you are printing or publishing your photos.
Download the file for this tutorial
Preparing your images for print need not be a stress-filled task.
Using Photoshop to fix your images is a simple project, employing techniques that you are bound to use time and time again. Photoshop allows you to fix most major image discrepancies within your photos, and in this tutorial we will show you just how to do that.
We will be using a few adjustment layers, a favourite tool with the DP team as they are non-destructive and easily editable.
We are working in Photoshop CS2 in this tutorial, but the techniques shown will also work in newer versions of the program so that everyone can follow along. Preparing images for print can differ depending on where you are printing or publishing your photos.
For web or technology-based (iPhone/iPad) projects your images need to be RGB, while for print purposes (books, magazines, etc) CMYK is needed.
We are going to work in CMYK in this tutorial, as our final photo is for magazine print, but you can follow this tutorial even if you want the end piece to be in RGB.
Simply flatten and then convert to RGB at the end – the colours won’t distort if flattened first.
If you are printing from your home printer, the type of paper can affect the end result a great deal. Pick a paper type which is suitable and compatible with your printer. Depending on the effect you’re after you could choose a matte finish that’s non-glossy and perfect for monochrome images, or if you want a high-end polished look, choose a glossy photo paper.
Research your printer brand online and then experiment with papers; there are some great fun brands out there, from tattoo paper and T-shirt transfer paper to the more serious weighted paper. If you’re thinking about turning your image into a gift, look for online printing companies who can offer canvas or even perspex options. For now, though, let’s begin with the most important part – fixing your image…
Open up the start image (‘1182660’) from the disc and double-click on the background layer in the Layers palette. Drag this over the Create a New Layer icon at the base of the palette. Hide the bottom layer by pressing the eye icon to the left of the layer.
2. Color Balance
Convert to CMYK. Select Color Balance from the Adjustment menu at the base of the Layers palette. A dialog box will appear (or if in CS5, an Adjustment palette). We want to rid the image of its dreary colour cast, so click onto Midtones at the base of this dialog box.
3. Remove the colour cast
Move the bottom slider towards the Blue side to decrease the Yellow. Move the middle slider a small amount to the left to decrease the Green and the top slider to the right to decrease the Cyan. The exact amounts can be seen in the screenshot.
Click onto the Shadows option at the base of the dialog box and the sliders will not need to move so much. Move the top slider a tiny amount towards the Cyan option, the mid slider towards Magenta and the bottom slider right towards the Blue to decrease the Yellow.
Finally work on the highlights, moving the slider in small amounts towards the Cyan and Blue as can be seen in the screenshot. We can come back to re-edit these values by going to the Layers palette and double-clicking on the adjustment layer icon on the relevant layer.
In Levels we can boost the highlights or shadows within an image and improve overall contrast. Any final colour discrepancies can be erased here too – it’s a fantastic tool. In the dialog box, you will see three sliders. Move the right white slider towards the middle to lighten.
7. Lighten midtones
To lighten the midtones, move the middle grey slider left slightly and see the image brighten. Leave the Dark left slider for now, as the blacks are dark enough. Hit OK and add another Layers adjustment layer to the top of the order in the Layers palette.
8. Boost the colours
Select Cyan from the drop-down menu, top of the Layers palette. Move the mid slider right to boost and richen the cyan (0, 0.74, 255). Select Yellow from the drop-down menu, and decrease the yellow in the highlights by moving the white towards the centre.
9. Mask away
Hit OK. Now we need to remove some of the new colours from the sea. Click onto the newest Levels layers mask (white box on the layer) and select a medium-sized, soft-edged brush set to 80% Opacity. In the side bar, set the colours to Foreground black, Background white.
10. Yellow removal
Paint over the sea area to remove the newest Levels layer effect. Add a new Color Balance adjustment to the top of the stack. On all three Tone Balance options, move the bottom slider towards Blue, decreasing the yellow. Concentrate on the sea area for now.
11. Mask some more
This time at 100% Opacity, paint over everything apart from the sea. Switch the side bar colours (press x) to white/black and reduce brush Opacity to 30%. On the same mask paint back over some of the yellowest cloud areas, this should turn them a nice soft blue.
12. Remove noise
To fix noise, make sure you are on the photo layer and select Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise. This image only requires a small tweak but zoom in, set the Strength level (1) checking that in the highlights, midtones and shadows it is effective.
To finish off this image crop away some of the excess sky, centralising the buildings and giving the image more focus. Zoom out and if needed re-edit any of the adjustment layer settings by double-clicking on the layers adjustment icon. This brings up the dialog box with saved settings.
Fix wonky horizons quickly
With your wonky horizon image open, double-click on the background layer to make it editable. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T to bring up transform options. Press Cmd/Ctrl+R to make the rulers visible, drag a ruler line down from the top ruler bar to where your horizon should sit. Hover over one of the corners and a rotate symbol will appear, rotate the canvas round until your horizon matches up with the ruler line and hit OK. Now use the Crop tool to get rid of any unwanted background.