How to Make High-Quality Low Resolution Versions of Photos

15th of August, 2008

Q: "I'm building my first web site, I'm a photographer and I need the photos on the site to be good quality but not too big a file size. Does anybody know the best way of ensuring the photgraphs that I use can still look good quality @ 72dpi. I am using Photoshop and everytime I reduce the resolution to 72dpi the quality goes haywire"

A: Reducing a really large scan to a small image suitable for a web page is not as simple as changing the size in Freeway or Photoshop. You can get acceptable results, but usually the details will become “mushy”.

One trick to avoid this is to reduce the image in a series of steps. If you are starting out with an image that is 8 times as large as you need it, start by reducing it by 50%. Then apply a small amount of Unsharp Mask in Photoshop. Then reduce by another 50%, and apply the Unsharp Mask again.

Keep doing this until you get within 50% of your final size, and make the final jump exactly the percentage needed to make your finished size. Apply slightly more Unsharp Mask as the final step, and then export as a JPEG. The image will appear sharper and more detailed than if you simply resized it in one giant step.

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