Have you ever had a photo that you’d like to blow up to a huge size, but when you tried to do it looked just awful? You’re not alone, lots of people find image resolution to be an impassable barrier when it comes to printing, and it can be. That doesn’t mean it has to be like this, there is a solution! Perfect Resize from On1 software.
Resize is now also available as part of On1’s image editing software, Photo RAW. Check out my extensive review of Photo RAW!
The Industry Standard
Some products stand out from the crowd and become the measuring stick of all competitors. For example in digital photography, no one has come close to Adobe Photoshop, and it would almost seem futile to attempt to compete with such a great piece of software. Other brand names that have become synonymous with their product are Band-Aid, Kleenex, Aspirin, Jacuzzi, and Scotch Tape. Well, I’m thinking we have another one here with Perfect Resize (formerly known as Genuine Fractals). Genuine Fractals has been the industry standard for many years now, in helping photographers create poster-sized prints and even billboard-sized images. Read on to see how this is done, and remember, this is not a product just for pros, it’s easy to use and will help pro and amateur photographers alike.
No product is perfect and yet this is one piece of software that comes pretty darn close to being perfect (in my opinion). No, you can’t take a small jpg image and blow it up to mural size with Perfect Resize, but you can do some incredible image interpolation with minimal side effects. Trying to do this in Photoshop will lead to a loss of sharpness and detail, resulting in prints that look out of focus and dull. Who wants that??
While many of today’s point and shoot cameras are in the 10-12 megapixel range and the pro DSLRs can get up to 23 megapixels, we still need to interpolate our photos to print them at the large poster sizes that we would like. This is where Perfect Resize comes in. With Perfect Resize you can blow up your images up to 10 times their original size and your images still look fantastic. For example, you can take a 12 mp image and resize it up to 6 feet (182 cm) on the short side!
Let’s take a look at some of the cool features in Perfect Resize
For this first example, I’ll use a photograph with a lot of intricate detail. This is a photo of the interior of the Cathédrale Saint-Louis des Invalides in Paris.
The Perfect Resize Tools
In this first set of tools, I’ll be concentrating on Document Size. Here is where you decide on your final image size. You can enter all the fields manually, or choose from one of the dozens of presets as shown in the photo below.
The controls are intuitive and I found it very easy to navigate within the Perfect Resize interface. As you see, Document Size is rather self-explanatory, so let’s dig in a little further to see some of the other features.
If you go back to the Tools-1 image, you’ll notice the Navigator at the top. It’s much like the one in Photoshop, however, this navigator allows you to the image at 1:1 scale giving you a great preview of what the final output will look like. I’ll show some impressive examples later in the review. Within the Navigator, use Fit to do your cropping or if you’re using a standard preset. Fit is also used for when you are printing on canvas with a gallery wrap, and this is another cool feature of Perfect Resize that I’ll get into a bit later on as well.
Make sure that you set the proper resolution for your printer under Resolution. If you’re not sure what to set it at for printing, check the instructional manual of your printer, and if you’re using a commercial printer to send your files to, ask them what resolution they print at before you go any further. Typically Epson printers are set to 240 or 360 PPI, Canon at 300 PPI. Commercial printers vary, but typically it is also 300 PPI.
The Texture Control tool allows you to adjust the detail within different areas of a photograph. To use the Texture Control, you can either use the sliders or in most cases use one of the presets that you see in the Tools-2a image.
You’ll want to view the results of the Texture Control and Sharpening at the 1:1 setting to really see the results. Take your time to play with the settings until you get the desired effect. I find that I’m usually fine with one of the presets.
I rarely use the Sharpening in Perfect Resize, because of my Photoshop workflow. I typically sharpen my images near the end of my retouching and therefore don’t need to sharpen anymore in Perfect Resize. You might want to test this out for yourself to see what works best for your photos. Sharpening images is a vital step in working on your digital images, and without sharpening your photos you’ll risk having your final output look dull or soft.
Let’s now take a look at the difference between the detail in a output of a 21 mp file that has been resized to a 48 X 32 inch size (14,400 px X 9,600 px) from the original 18.72 X 12.48 inch size (5,616 px X 3,744 px). That’s equal to an increase in size of 256 percent.
I’ll begin with the Photoshop version:
Perfect Resize vs Photoshop
Hmmm, looks a bit fuzzy now doesn’t it? While I’m a huge fan of Photoshop and I love it as a whole, there are some things that it does not do so well. Increasing image size is one of those things that it does not do very well.
Now this is more like it! The edges are crisp, the image is clear and devoid of that blurry look that I got when using Photoshop.
The next tool is Film Grain, and this one is best suited to black and white images. The Film Grain tool allows you to give your image that “pushed film” look that we used to get when shooting film and pushing the development times to achieve higher contrast and grain. Since the images I work with are typically HDR images, I’m not looking to add grain, so I don’t use this option. Try it out on more monochromatic images or your black and white photos, it’s a fun option to add the grain but don’t add too much! I’d say don’t pass the 60/100 mark and you’ll typically be ok.
Tiling your images
Tiling is a great feature in Perfect Resize that allows you to make mural-sized images even on a small printer. It does this by breaking up the image into smaller sized prints that your home printer is able to output, thus allowing you to “tile” the larger sized print much like a mosaic. In the image below, you’ll see some cyan lines dividing the image into sections that a small printer can handle, in this case, 8 x 10 inches. I blew this image of the Snow Covered Rooftops in Florence up by 700 percent.
Come to think of it, this giant print would look great on my wall ;)
Once you apply the Tiling feature, Perfect Resize will save one big file, and then break down the image into as many tiles as you see on the screen. In this case it’s 153 tiles all printed at 8″ x 10″. The files are all numbered in sequence, beginning in the upper left hand corner, making it a breeze to position them later.
This is a robust program, and it’s not just able to resize images as you can well see. The next and final tool that I’ll cover here is the Gallery Wrap tool. If you’re like me and so many other photographers today, you’re getting some of your photographs printed on canvas. Printing on canvas is a great option and when these prints are gallery wrapped, it ends up being less expensive than printing on paper and framing.
Gallery Wrapping Canvas Prints
One of the negatives of printing on canvas with a gallery wrap is that you have to sacrifice the edges of your image to stretch or wrap around the inner wood stretcher bars. With Perfect Resize’s Reflect option, you no longer have to worry about this. In the image above you’ll notice the cyan lines once again. This time they represent the edge of the image where the wrapping will begin. As you can see, I selected the Reflect option, and this mirrored the set amount of space inside the image that will be wrapped. In this case, I chose 1.5 inches, and the image below shows you a clear example of the final Gallery Wrap-effect with the Reflect option selected. This way, no image area is sacrificed and you can show off your prints with the intended cropping.
Perfect Resize is the perfect name for this software. I admit that I’m a fan of OnOne’s other plugins, and either by itself or as part of the OnOne Perfect Photo Suite, Perfect Resize is a tool that I would highly recommend to both amateur and pro shooters alike. If you’re looking to print large photos and have them look their best, this is the right tool for you.
Perfect Resize works with:
- Adobe Photoshop
- Adobe Photoshop Elements
- Adobe Lightroom
- Apple Aperture
- As a stand-alone program
What Perfect Resize can do for the Photographer
- Increase image size substantially without loss of sharpness or detail that would occur by doing it in Photoshop
- Resize and crop images all in one step
- Create a mirrored gallery wrap effect for printing canvas prints
- Tile images from a larger file to print on a smaller printer, allowing you to assemble them afterward to recreate a huge print
- Control texture and grain in your enlargements
- Save presets of favourite settings for future use on similar images
- Batch processing
In parting, I’ll leave you with these examples of what Perfect Resize is capable of. I’ll enlarge several images and compare the details at 1:1 from the original file and the resized final photos.
Increasing the size by 500%
Turning a 12″ x 18″ photo into a 67″ x 100″ photo!