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What file format should my imported files be?


neilmoore

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Newbie alert....

I'm self taught (badly) work in elements and am about to start on a project (a boardgame) for which I have literally thousands of graphics files ready to incorporate. But with regards to the myriad file format types available, I'm seeking advice on which ones I should be using for importing into photoshop? The graphics I'm utilising predominantly come from capturing screen shots of 3D models I've paid for the license to use. When capturing these files using the program Snagit, I'm given the option of saving them in multiple formats, and indeed I've done so albeit in a sloppy manner that now has my saved files in multiple different formats including jpg, png and tiff. While the quality of these all appear the same when I look at them on my computer screen, I see the memory sizes are all very different. I'm vaguely aware of something about the loss of quality that occurs with jpg files when working with them in photoshop and I also see the tiff files in particular are quite a bit bigger in size. The publisher I'd ultimately like to go with wants the final product (gameboard, cards etc) to be submitted as PDF's in CMYK, something I believe photoshop elements can't do.

My specific questions are: If my aim is have my finished product printed for commercial release, should the files I'm importing into photoshop elements all be tiff files?
The jpgs files certainly look as good to me but as I work and edit these files will they degrade in quality working within photoshop elements?
If this is the case and I don't need to work with tiff files, are png files then better to use, ie they don't suffer the same degradation from multiple saves?
Or is there another file format I should be saving the screen captured files as?
Where I've saved files as jpg's already, can I simply convert them to tiff or png files if these are better formats to be working with (which Snagit allows me to do) or should I start the screen capturing process over, capturing them straight into the most optimum format from the get go? (Unfortunately this would entail a few weeks work if this is the case... so I'd really rather not have to!)
The publisher has stipulated a resolution of 300ppi or above for the final products, is this considered high enough for something like a boardgame, or should I aim for a higher resolution?
If so, how high?
Even tho elements doesn't handle CMYK, my intention was to still work with this program (as I'm more familiar with it than regular photoshop) and look to convert to CMYK at the end. But I've read this is a sub-optimal way of doing this which will impact the colour of the end product. So do I need to upgrade to a subscription of regular photoshop in order to avoid this?

Sorry for the length and number of questions, any help will be gratefully appreciated. Thanks in advance, regards Neil.
 

thebestcpu

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But with regards to the myriad file format types available, I'm seeking advice on which ones I should be using for importing into photoshop? The graphics I'm utilising predominantly come from capturing screen shots of 3D models I've paid for the license to use. When capturing these files using the program Snagit, I'm given the option of saving them in multiple formats, and indeed I've done so albeit in a sloppy manner that now has my saved files in multiple different formats including jpg, png and tiff.
Having PNG format or TIFF format generated from the original files directly would be preferred at the desired resolution you need for the final product. Capturing Screen shots might meet your needs yet goes through a color and pixel transformation to be displayed on your screen. If you capture from the Screen, just make sure the object is large enough to conatin the desired number of pixels (or larger) than you would need in your final product. PNG is preferred to JPEG to avoid compression artifacts. PNG format should be fine if you prefer as either PNG or TIFF in defailt modes does not have lossy compression.

While the quality of these all appear the same when I look at them on my computer screen, I see the memory sizes are all very different. I'm vaguely aware of something about the loss of quality that occurs with jpg files when working with them in photoshop and I also see the tiff files in particular are quite a bit bigger in size. The publisher I'd ultimately like to go with wants the final product (gameboard, cards etc) to be submitted as PDF's in CMYK, something I believe photoshop elements can't do.
As I understand, PS Elements does not support CMYK so if you use Elements, you would need another way to convert to CMYK and to PDF files that supports the end colors you desire. All version of Photoshop CS or CC supports CMYK

Where I've saved files as jpg's already, can I simply convert them to tiff or png files if these are better formats to be working with (which Snagit allows me to do) or should I start the screen capturing process over, capturing them straight into the most optimum format from the get go? (Unfortunately this would entail a few weeks work if this is the case... so I'd really rather not have to!)
Any time you convert to JPEG the image data experiences lossy compression. It does not recover if you subsequently save from JPEG to another non-lossy file format.

The publisher has stipulated a resolution of 300ppi or above for the final products, is this considered high enough for something like a boardgame, or should I aim for a higher resolution?
If so, how high?
300 ppi for the final product is very high quality even for photographs. Your image resolution of all imported objects must start at that same high resolution as well. You cannot upsize lower resolution image to higher resolution images and retain the original quality.

Even tho elements doesn't handle CMYK, my intention was to still work with this program (as I'm more familiar with it than regular photoshop) and look to convert to CMYK at the end. But I've read this is a sub-optimal way of doing this which will impact the colour of the end product. So do I need to upgrade to a subscription of regular photoshop in order to avoid this?
I am unfamiliar with other programs and their abilities to convert RGB images to CMYK. High quality images/colors are a matter of knowing the details of the conversion process. If you or the publisher requires specific CMYK colors, if you don't edit in CMYK, you might need to convert and verify (and possibly modify) the colors to the exact CMYK color numbers. This is a more involved topic and it depends on the exact specifications required by the printer. Some want the files in a specific CMYK color space and others want to attached color space yet want the color numbers in the image to be exactly specified to get accurate color rendition. More would need to be known about what is needed by your and the print service. Outputting in PDF is supported by all versions of Photoshop.

Hope this at least answers some initial questions for you
Other forum members may have more inputs
John Wheeler
 

neilmoore

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Thanks so much for taking the time John to help me out. I'm feeling pretty good about how I proceed now with just the one lingering issue of determining whether I do so working in Elements or take the plunge and subscribe to Photoshop cc. As my prime motivator for doing the latter would be the CMYK issue (ie something Elements doesn't support) the last thing I really need to work out is how big an issue this really is? If it's simply not that big an issue and the conversion from RBG to CMYK isn't too difficult or compromising in the end, then I'll probably stick with working in Elements for now. Thanks again mate, much appreciated!
 

thebestcpu

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Your welcome Neilmoore
I wanted to let you know some additional information that may help you in your decision making on how to proceed. All CMYK commercial color printing of which I am aware has a color gamut that is smaller than the standard sRGB color gamut (typical RGB editing color space). That means assuming you are using a calibrated display, what you see on your screen is not necessarily what the colors will be when printed. The more saturated colors will be mapped to the best CMYK colors (typically of lower saturation).
So being able to see the final colors through either what is called soft proofing or just convering to CMYK and viewing has its advantages.
It is also a bit more complicated. When converting between color modes, it turns out you need to know the color space of the printer (or if the printer does not want it in a color space) you need to know which color space with which to soft proof to see how the final color will appear and make adjustments if needed if you don't like the result.
There are also some additional options when making the conversion that have to do with using black point conversion and also the rendering intent (algorithm used).

This is not to scare you, it is to make you aware that what you see on your screen is probably not how it is going to be printed. Knowing how to preview the final color and how to compensate is just so you know and get the colors that you desire and which can be printed on that final output device.

As an example, I have provided an image below to demonstrate how converting from RGB to CMYK can shift colors.
The upper part of the image are both RGB in sRGB color space. It is a full spectrum rainbow of maximum saturation that is brought down in a gradient to pure black on the left side and brought to full white on the right side.

The lower half of the image is exactly the same in mirror form yet converted to the CMYK color space of "US Web Coated (SWOP) V2" I turned off black point compensation for the conversion.
You can see that the colors are much more muted. So if you used highly saturated colors in RGB, they will look not so saturated when printed.

So the mechanics of conversion can be done by a lot of different software from Photoshop to online converters pretty easily, yet having the ability to see in advance the colors that will pirnt is priceless and helps not having more turnarounds with guessing on what to do to get what you want.

It may sound daunting yet all of this color management can be leared over time. If you are good with have some mismatch between what you see on your screen and what is printed, this may not be of great import. Just trying to help you see what can happen in advance.
Best wishes in your endeavors.
John Wheeler

RGB-to-CMYK.jpg
 

neilmoore

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That's quite a dramatic difference in those demo pics! Fortunately for me I suppose is the fact the colours in my project are way more on the muted end of the spectrum, rather than being vibrant. I found another post on this subject from you on this site, and found the embedded youtube clip to be similarly informative. This is all so over my pay grade it would be much easier (presumably) just working in photoshop cc to avoid it. What I think I'll do tho is at least start the project in elements but not go too far before attempting the CMYK conversion, perhaps even sending an example to the publisher to see the final result from their printer? The publisher I have in mind isn't the cheapest but comes highly recommended for their willingness to assist clients with their project so I'm confident I could get a pretty good heads up on how the end product will look, before deciding ultimately which way to proceed.

Once again John thanks for the help. I'm still not 100% on the right thing to do but at least I know now so much more about all the factors involved. Much appreciated.

Regards, Neil.
 

thebestcpu

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Your welcome Neil. I think you have a very good strategy. Its great that you have a very good print service that will work with the customer as that an make a huge difference. Just explain where you're coming from and get their best advice. They want your business. You'll do great I am sure. Best wishes on your project
John Wheeler
 

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