basic photoshop question

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hello! this is probably a basic question as it gets - i hadnt really heard of photoshop 10 minutes ago even. thanks for any help, i appreciate any time you spend thinking about it. i am wondering if photoshop is perfect for what i want to do which is basically upload multiple (100ish) images of various sizes and shapes onto one document and then fit them together in any way i see fit.

i'll tell you exactly what i want to do to make it easier to understand. i want the document to be the village i live in and the images overlaid upon the document will be photos of all the houses. i want to therefore upload the photos and images (of the houses) onto the document and then move them around and put them on the document relative to where they are in the village. therefore some images would be next to each other with no gaps between images because the houses are joined together. but then on the document there will be a large space all the way to the next image of the next house because in real life that house is say half a mile away. 

it's like a collage but not quite, you might say. ive been looking for suitable apps but none are perfect because they are mostly fixed-template collages in which a fixed amount of photos and images slot into files and symetrical grids with the same space apart. i want to create something similar to a collage but without a fixed template. i want spaces between images if i want and then suddenly no spaces between others. i want to crop and resize images to different sizes and shapes if i want to. 

excuse me for coming right out and asking this instead of looking around. ive been looking around for apps for 2 hours and my eyes are hurting and ive got a headache lol!

then i came across photoshop which had a forum so ... here i am.

thanks again. i appreciate any time you take to help me.
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zurichluck

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Posted 2 years ago

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Cristen Gillespie

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There are two programs that call themselves "Photoshop" (just to be confusing) that you can use to layer (collage) images into a single document. Photoshop Elements is quite a bit easier for beginners than Photoshop, which is the parent program, and both support multiple layers, as well as cropping and resizing. No need for a fixed template. You won't be uploading anything to anywhere, though. The images and software reside on your computer— the images can be resized/recolor/retouched as needed for your project, and will stay on your computer. A copy of the file, flattened, can be uploaded to various websites or emailed, and printed if that's what you want.

I'd recommend you consider breaking the village into districts, so no single file will become too big and a drain on your computer resources. Make multiple documents and you should be able to do just fine, if you indeed have 100 or so images to fit into your village. Take a look at Photoshop Elements. As long as you are only planning to use it for individual projects and don't anticipate needing very high end retouching tools, you should be happy with that.

If you have more questions, just ask.
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zurichluck

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Thanks very much for that helpful answer, appreciate it!. I hope you dont mind that i will ask some more questions.

my plan is to print the finished document out onto a large piece of paper at one of those high-quality printer shops, and then put the finished document on the wall as decoration. The thing is, i expect the whole thing to be approx. 2 by 1 metres (so you can see the houses and other images meaningfully on the ‘map’). Maybe a bit smaller like 1.5 x 1 metres but still i would say rather large.

Because it’s such a large document, possibly unusually large, is it in fact even possible to make such a large document on photoshop? i.e. is it possible to make a document of that size on a 1:1 ratio basis so that when printed out, the document didnt have to be ‘automatically re-sized’ onto the 2x1 paper which would consequently affect image resolution? basically: is it possible to create a 1:1 document on photoshop that would be 2 by 1 metres in real life? For example if i remember correctly when you use microsoft word you can choose a4 size or you can choose another size (a5) from a range of a few sizes that someone is likely to use. Notably there is no 'absolutely massive' size! Are there similar ‘restrictions’ on photoshop including a maximum document size? And if so, does this mean that such a large document (2x1 metres) could only be made by scaling everything up before printing thus affecting the image resolution? Or can i make 1:1 documents in any size?

All of this of course comes straight to your idea about dividing the village into sections, a great idea i really like. When you say a drain on my computer do you mean on its ongoing processing capability i.e. that my computer might slow down and switch off (it happens!) with a large document containing a hundred images? With that in mind, would you recommend to me how many images per document would be more reasonable so as not to affect my computer? therefore i can figure out how many districts i need to divide my village into.

Also, when i said upload i might have used the term incorrectly and so please let me clarify so i know it’s ok. I meant that i would ‘import’ images from elsewhere - including the cloud - into my photoshop document (and then crop/resize/ pull here and there etc). I would use photos from my computer but also i would import images from the cloud to use alongside these photos. Would this be possible? Or perhaps you mean that first i would upload images from the cloud onto my computer and then from there i would take them to photoshop as opposed to directly going from cloud to photoshop?

Also: When you say ‘(the programme) supports multiple layers’ what do you mean by multiple layers? Do you mean that i can put images partly across each other for example? Or does it mean something slightly different in the ‘virtual’ context?

Also: its interesting that you say ‘flattened’. Does this mean that photoshop enables a sort of 3D effect?

Finally (promise!), about ‘high end retouching tools’. I have also thought of giving my finished document to neighbours or dare i say it sell the finished document at village charity events. In that respect, would you suggest high end retouching tools? I would like the whole thing to look as good as possible, ie to the standard of say a print of a painting that you might buy in a shop. On the other hand im really not that delicate and skillful artistically so they might be wasted on me. What do the retouching tools do?

Ive just asked a ton of questions so thanks again for your time and help. i appreciate it very much.
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Cristen Gillespie

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> The thing is, i expect the whole thing to be approx. 2 by 1 metres (so you can see the houses and other images meaningfully on the ‘map’). Maybe a bit smaller like 1.5 x 1 metres but still i would say rather large.>

https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop-elements/kb/maximum-image-size-limits-photoshop.html

https://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/image-size-resolution.html

You've got 2 separate issues here. This trips up most people in the beginning. I'm not sure how much you already know, so forgive me if you already understand all this. The size limit in pixels (the bits that make up an image) is only half the picture when it comes to printing. To simplify it, printers lay down dots of ink at a particular size to make what appears to be a continuous tone image (no dots) at a given distance. We refer to the measurement as dots/pixels per inch, or resolution.  A billboard, seen at a distance and printed very large, will have a resolution of 72 pixels per inch (Europeans might use x pixels per cm) or less, and up close, those are big dots. A book, otoh, will be typically 240-350 pixels (dots) per inch. Considerably more pixels packed into a much smaller space.

You can see right away that whether you're bound by 30,000 x 30,000 pixels as your maximum size for a document (Photoshop Elements), or 300,000 x 300, 000 pixels (Adobe Photoshop), how big that document can be printed depends upon how many pixels per inch are used, which in turn depends upon how close the viewer will be to the printed document. Definitely read through the 2nd link for a more detailed explanation. It will also depend upon the size paper the printing press can handle. You might even prefer to think in terms of multiple sections, like triptychs, that are physically framed, but represent a whole, as an aesthetic choice.

> When you say a drain on my computer do you mean on its ongoing processing capability i.e. that my computer might slow down and switch off (it happens!) with a large document containing a hundred images?>

Absolutely that is usually the first thing to happen. It depends entirely upon how much RAM you have, and how efficiently you resize the images before you bring them into your document. An option is to learn about linking, and instead of bringing the images into Photoshop as embedded images (ones stored with the document), you can create a link that points to someplace on your drives. You'll see the image there, but you'll not have it be part of your image until you package the file to send to a printer. That's something else to learn in order to get it right, btw.<G> You'll still have to prepare your photos in an image editing application like Photoshop Elements, but you could also use iPhotos or Windows Photos in that case.

If you can work in districts, rather than the whole village, you have many advantages. You can work in just one program. It might not have to be a program designed for professionals. It shouldn't kill your computer if you have a decent amount of RAM and drive space. And you can learn all the workflow you need on a manageable document, which will make all the others go more smoothly.

> I would use photos from my computer but also i would import images from the cloud to use alongside these photos.>

If you mean you would download images from the web to your computer, then yes, any source you have rights to use is fine. But you have to ultimately have them somewhere the printer has access to—the actual physical file, without the printer having to go to some website to download them.

> Also: When you say ‘(the programme) supports multiple layers’ what do you mean by multiple layers? Do you mean that i can put images partly across each other for example?>

Yes, layers are what allow you to add elements to your document while keeping them separate from the background. Think of an open-faced sandwich. The mustard spread on the bread just enhances the bread, but isn't separate from it. However, the roast beef, lettuce, and tomato are all  separate from the bread and each other. They can be removed, more can be added, have horseradish spread on them, etc.  If you look directly down on your open-faced sandwich, if the tomato on top only fills a small space, you can see the lettuce underneath, If the lettuce, too, doesn't cover everything underneath, you can also see the roast beef. If that doesn't completely cover, you can see the bread, so now, if you arrange it all just so, you can see all of the ingredients. Wouldn't be a very tasty sandwich, but it makes a great image from many images.

Flattening has nothing to do with 3D. Either you or the printer has to create a single flat image (like a page in a book) from all those layers. That's how it gets printed or displayed on the web.

> On the other hand im really not that delicate and skillful artistically so they might be wasted on me. What do the retouching tools do?>

You can do quite a bit of retouching in either Photoshop Elements or Adobe Photoshop. The most professional tools are in Adobe Photoshop, but they take a lot more time to learn to use skillfully. From what you say, you mainly will want to have some way to control the tone and color of your images, and Elements has plenty of tools, as well as "auto" correcting features to help you. Elements does have a more restricted document size, but working in districts, it may be large enough for your needs.

Retouching does everything from changing colors in an image to straightening up buildings taken at bad angles to removing something you don't like from the picture. It's completely up to you how much of that you do, but I'm guessing, you'll prefer to use the auto-correct features rather than adding months or years to your project by learning to be a retoucher. <g>
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zurichluck

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i am really bowled over by your level of help here and before i go and get my thinking hat on and go over everything and start learning some more via those links, i just want to say thanks. thanks so much for the time you've taken here to help me! it's been a real eye-popper.
(Edited)
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Cristen Gillespie

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Glad to help. It's a big and complex subject, and can get quickly very frustrating, but it's wonderful once you start to get used to what you can do and how you can work with these apps.
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Birck Cox

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Ms Gillespie has done a very good job explaining-clearly-what would be required to accomplish your project, and she definitely knows more about the kind of work you are contemplating than I do, in spite of many years (mine) experience with Photoshop. But it sounds to me as if you are considering a project that would make demands on a person skilled in using Photoshop for photo-editing, let alone someone who just started using it four days ago. To come up with a ca. 6-foot by 6-foot supergraphic panoramic photoprint with all the elements at the same resolution, same pixel ratio, same color balance, in short, all looking as if they are part of the same picture, and didn't wander in from different  National Geographic documentaries, will take a high degree of preparation and organization starting with the very first photos. I don't mean to say that it doesn't sound like a good idea-it does, and I mean that. But it might be worth your time to, say, do a trial run with more limited ambitions, like try one small group of houses, run the full procedure,  and see what happens when you enlarge the pastiche to the final size of the full graphic. You may find artifacts and patterns you didn't know were there, and don't want in the final picture.  You will need to stuff as much RAM into your computer as you can. Eight Gigs isn't going to do it. Try 32 or 64. Pick a file format for the photos that will enable you to get as much into that 32 or 64GB as possible. Jpeg may work, but won't tolerate repeated saves; PDF is a bigger file, built to be used on the web; Tiffs are more flexible, etc.; PNGs use the alpha channel. The project is going to take a sizable amount of time and hardware. I don't know what you have access to. You may have all that covered, but to get what you want looking right is going to be a long slog.
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zurichluck

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Wow! Thanks so much for that insight. I dont have any of that considered at all.

I dont know where to start with the implications of your post so maybe i can just ask a few questions while i get my head around it all. You will immediately understand that I am a novice and my questions are those of an amateur. In fact while they address what you said they do so indirectly, so excuse that!

  • You say ‘...a photoprint with all the elements at the same resolution, same pixel ratio’: i had assumed that i could standardise images in this regard using an image editor ie i could make every image the same resolution and the same pixel ratio.

  • Are you saying then that standardizing images using an image editor like this would potentially create a lot of ‘artifacts and patterns’?

  • If thats not what you mean, where would artifacts and patterns come from? Are they in fact an organic part of digital translations somehow?

  • With regard the point about ‘the same colour balance’: id never thought about. Can you balance colours on an image editor to a standard across a document? On the other hand, i guess im not reaching for the stars in terms of finished quality. Saying that, maybe you mean that if i cant balance the colours then it will just look shoddy and will create more artifacts and patterns

  • You also say this:  ‘it might be worth your time to, say, do a trial run with more limited ambitions, like try one small group of houses, run the full procedure,  and see what happens when you enlarge the pastiche to the final size of the full graphic.’ Thanks for the idea. My question about this is an important question to me and is as follows: i had thought that if i make the image on a template then i could customize my document's size specifications. I would thus make the document size the same exact size i wanted to print at, and consequently i would not need to ‘enlarge it the the final size of the full graphic’. That is because my customized size specifications would be exactly the size i wanted to print at. Am i wrong about this?

  • Please excuse me if my questions dont make sense.

  • i understand that from what you and Ms Gillespie have said that photos are so information heavy that any basic amount of them in a project means a huge processing capacity is needed?

  • Is it the same with ‘images’ ie the sort of image you can find in google images?

  • because My next question involves a different project i have in mind. It is a collage of google images of famous paintings to print out and put on my wall! Let’s say 50 images. Does everything you have said apply to this even though they are not photos from my camera.
thanks again for your time. hope you dont mind all the questions LOL!
(Edited)
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Cristen Gillespie

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>  But it sounds to me as if you are considering a project that would make demands on a person skilled in using Photoshop for photo-editing, let alone someone who just started using it four days ago. To come up with a ca. 6-foot by 6-foot supergraphic panoramic photoprint with all the elements at the same resolution, same pixel ratio, same color balance, in short, all looking as if they are part of the same picture,>

Mr Cox:  Thank you for such a polite reference to me, but it's quite okay to be less formal and refer to me by my first name.  I think you're absolutely right that this project would be a nightmare for a beginner, or indeed, most amateurs, if your requirements were necessary to the enjoyment of the end results. I also strongly agree that learning on a small section, a representation of the larger work, is essential to saving one's sanity.

But I work a great deal with amateurs, and their projects, while not fulfilling the standards of a professional project, often are as much as any of the viewers/recipients of the project want. It's a thoroughly delightful concept, and I think the viewers/villagers, knowing that it's an amateur project for everyone's pleasure, won't really care whether the final image has an overall color-matched tone to it, or indeed if some images are of somewhat lower resolution than others and have somewhat different exposures.  Granted, if some images are 350 pixels on the long side and enlarged to cover too much area, the pixelation will be awful. I think that is something that can best be discovered with the practice piece—which should be printed in order for the OP to gauge the technical results before spending a lot getting the whole thing printed—preferably after reading the link I gave to what resolution is about.

But I also think there are ways to minimize the potential for bad results, ways which don't require a professional's skill.

What the viewers will care about is seeing that their home or business is in focus and a good exposure. Blurry, under- or overexposed, and badly distorted angles will matter to them the most as far as leaving them unhappy and far from engaged in the project. That it IS their home town is automatically engaging, seeing it laid out properly enough, and that will make up for a lot.

I would encourage the OP to use a basic camera or cellphone and not rely on the internet for photos  — which are often copyrighted and shouldn't be appropriated even for personal use —  shoot during the same few hours a day, and that can take care of most production issues surrounding image size and resolution, as well as exposure problems. It can even help with making the project look more consistent, as well as can be done in segments, such that a small district is photographed, then collaged, rinse and repeat. The OP won't then bite off too much of anything at one time, and can find the cure for problems as the project goes along.

So I would encourage the OP (I'm pretty sure "zurichluck" isn't a name?), to plan to do the whole project, but in very small sections, IF the first small trial piece isn't overwhelmingly discouraging, or just plain something the OP doesn't enjoy doing. I do know a lot of amateurs who did try to learn, but discovered they really would rather do something else.
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Cristen Gillespie

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> i had thought that if i make the image on a template then i could customize my document's size specifications. I would thus make the document size the same exact size i wanted to print at, and consequently i would not need to ‘enlarge it the the final size of the full graphic’.>

You certainly can, and this is normal when working with pixel-based images. You don't make a template for this, though. You determine the size of the individual printed piece, and if you're going to make that size over and over again (although you don't need to—you could make some pieces larger than others, some at different ratios, so long as they fit together in the end), you save a "new document" preset that lets you always create that document that size, that resolution.

Since presumably your village is not laid out on a precise grid, you won't have a template to follow for where you place your photos. That will be guided by the underlying map.

As for the size of the images—there is no real template for that, either. If you start with the same size image from your phone or camera as I suggest in the message above, you can fairly easily reduce the size of any image to fit in its allotted space. If you need to make an image bigger—that's when you're far more likely to run into problems that affect the quality.

When it comes to the size of images measured in bytes (MB, GB, TB, etc), which will affect performance as you build your collage,  there's quite a lot you can do to reduce overhead by preparing images before you bring them into your collage.

I know it's next to impossible to read technical documents when you haven't even got the software to play with, but you probably do have Photos in either Windows or Mac. They have something that determines what size you can use in a print if you change the resolution (pixels printed per inch/cm). These Image Size dialogs do the math for you, after you determine what resolution you need to print well. Change the resolution but keep the pixels the same, you'll see the size of the print will change. It shouldn't take long for you to start to make the connection. This, more than anything else, is going to dictate your project's final dimensions and what photos are suitable to use.

Once you read whatever you can get your hands on about pixels and resolution and print (and Google will turn up a LOT of basic help if you put in "print resolution"), and play with it a bit in your OS software, you'll be better able to ask the right questions here about what's next to consider. You might not believe it, but for a fun project, learning pixels and resolution for printing is probably the hardest thing you'll do, and once you do get it, working with print resolution will become very easy and straightforward.
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Birck Cox

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Sorry about the long delay since my last post. I can't add much to the discussion, it seems. It sounds as if Cristen has the right idea, overall-pixels and print resolution will probably be the hardest part of arriving at a satisfactory result. If those measurements are ignored, the results will vary in blurriness and detail, some of which can be corrected(somewhat) in Photoshop before printing. The effort toward precision and high resolution is my own hobbyhorse. I have to think that way, but you don't, necessarily. My remarks about color balance may still be useful, in that if the ambient light changes from "golden hour" to overcast to snow on a sunny day, you may or may not want to standardize it. It will probably help, too, if the sunlight  seems to be coming from the same direction  in all the photos. As far as "too much information" for the computer is concerned, if you pick a standard size from which to enlarge all the photos the limitation is more likely to be felt in the number of layers you can work with at any one time. The fatter the file format, the bigger the images, and the greater the number of layers, the greater the amount of RAM you will need.
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