Downsizing made easy – a present to stock photographers
Yuri Arcurs: “This system is part of my daily workflow. It works flawlessly and should be a standard tool for all microstock photographers. I would pay a lot of money for it, if I had to!”
WHAT CAN THE SYSTEM DO?
Sometimes our images are slightly out of focus, forcing us to downsize until they appear sharp enough to be accepted by the stock agencies. This can be time-consuming plus there are mistakes that can be made. The tool I am sharing with you today will help you to completely avoid these mistakes and significantly speed up your workflow.
HOW WAS IT MADE AND WHAT DOES IT CONSIST OF?
Ok, so back in March 2009 I developed a series of scripts (coded files that tell Photoshop what to do in an automated way) and actions (similar to scripts but simpler in nature) together with some hardcore nerds over at adobe.com/forum. The vision was to create a series of superfast and flawless shortcuts for downsampling images to fit the different image sizes on istockphoto.com. Why? Because if an image is a tiny bit unsharp, and risk being rejected because of it, I wanted an easy way to downsize and thereby “hide” the unsharpness. Anyhow, after some time we achieved the desired result, and that is what I want to share with you today.
It turns out, as a bonus, that downsizing also tends to reduce the appearance of noise, artifacts and chromatic aberration. Here I want to say something important: Reducing the size of an image just to get rid of noise, artifacts and chromatic aberration is not a good idea. The larger the version you sell the more money you make. I really think that preserving the original resolution should be first priority. Images that are too much downsized also have a tendency to look over sharpened, which can result in a rejection from the stock agency.
HOW TO GET IT AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
THE SHORT VERSION
Download the folder with the scripts and actions and follow the installation instructions (download link is further down the page). After the installation you will have six actions in Photoshop enabling you to downsize in increments relating to the different sizes on iStockphoto.com. The smallest of them being the minimum size for submission. Be careful not to upsize (the scripts can do that too) since this can create artifacts and in effect totally ruin your image. Besides, the robot on iStock warns the inspector if your image is above native file size resulting in a rejection. Therefore always take note of your present uncompressed document size before you use the actions. To see your present uncompressed document size select “document size” from the flyout menu at the bottom left of the image window in Photoshop (shown below, it’s the default). It is the number on the left you should read. The number on the right relates to the tonal values and varies with every image.
By the way, if you work in 16bit be sure to also read the longer version below. The longer version also answers other technical questions.
SHORT VIDEO ON HOW TO USE THE ACTIONS
BONUS: WHAT YOU CAN ALSO USE THIS KNOWLEDGE FOR
As you learn the numbers in the action by heart (60.2, 46.5, etc) you will also learn how to crop your images in an optimized way. Basically it is the same story; you learn to crop so that the document size stays within the category closest to your cropping (M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL) and not just below the threshold of those sizes. Often it makes no difference for the composition if you crop just a notch more in order to “reach” the next size.
XTRA GOODIE INCLUDED
I have included a version of the scripts / actions that prompt you for a size (in MB). For some purposes this can be very handy. Some agencies, like Cultura Images, want specific uncompressed sizes.
THE SLIGHTY LONGER (AND NERDIER) VERSION (overlaps included):
Pixel count relates directly to the uncompressed file size (and not the compressed jpg size which is a completely different thing). For instance a 21 megapixel image will always be 60.2 megabytes uncompressed, that is if you are working in 8 bit. If you are working in 16 bit the uncompressed file size will be twice the amount, in this case 120.4 megabytes. The scripts and actions in this system works both in 8 and 16 bit. More about this later.
With this system, or workflow, you are guaranteed, in a very convenient way, not to miss out of a “full stop” of income by accidentally downsizing your images a little too much. You also save tons of valuable time since this is the fastest way in the industry to downsize.
Say you have a 21 megapixel image from a Canon 1Ds Mark III (XXXL) and you want to downsize a little to make the image appear sharper. You could for instance use “image size” in Photoshop, or say the downsizing tool in Deepmeta, and manually type in the total pixel count you want to end up with. First of all it takes forever compared to my system, and secondly it allows for human error. If you downsize just a little too much (by just 1 pixel) and end up with an L image instead of XL, that is a 33% loss of income (from 18 credits to 12 credits). Say you sell a 100 copies of that image in its lifespan and you loose $3 every time, that is a loss of $300 in royalty on that one image. JUST BECAUSE YOU DOWNSIZED TOO MUCH BY 1 PIXEL. That is quite a lot of money if you ask me. By the way if you do your own calculations on what fits the different sizes (on iStock in this case) you will find that the actions / scripts downsize to sizes just above what is actually the minimum requirement for the categories. So why the sloppiness? Well, firstly because the pixel count results in several decimals and I’ve have made absolutely sure to meet those criteria by directing the script to a safe level above the minimum requirements. Secondly because my numbers are easier to remember when you are cropping and want to avoid cropping just below a file size. You are welcome to do the math and edit the scripts yourself if you feel the need for it. For your information the different sizes are adjusted specifically for istockphoto.com. I don’t submit anywhere else and don’t know their standard sizes. You are welcome to adjust the scripts according to your needs.
EVEN NERDIER AND ESPECIALLY FOR THE 16bit’ers:
In case you work in 16bit the actions / scripts also work. The scripts “understand” this and do what is required. You will just have to understand that for instance when you play the action “46.5 XXL” it will take the 16 bit into account and downsize to 93mb instead (46.5 x 2). If you convert to 8 bit, which you will have to do if you want to export a jpg, you will notice the number changes to 46.5. You have to do your own math if you work in 16bit, or just duplicate and rename the actions for an easier workflow. You just need to keep in doubling factor in mind. To give and example: Say you want to downsize to “medium” (5.5 M), in 16bit that would be 11MB. So your image must be more than 11MB uncompressed in 16bit for it to make sense using the action. It does make perfect sense, I just hope I am able to communicate it properly 🙂
Please note that the pixel count is the same no matter how many layers you add to a file, so don’t worry about multiple layers.
Also note that resolution of the image (“DPI” seen in Photoshops “Image Size”) is totally irrelevant. Don’t worry about it. It can be set to anything 🙂
Please feel welcome to post questions and comments 🙂
All the best,