16 Replies Latest reply on Dec 19, 2013 12:58 PM by Peter Spier

    Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?

    Mirrordude

      I am designing a deck of bridge-size cards for printerstudio.com in InDesign, and will be data merging in the images from a spreadsheet.  I have 128 images made in photoshop for card backgrounds that are set to exactly 1122 x 747 pixels, the metadata says 300 DPI.

       

      I create a new document in InDesign and have set the document size to 1050 x 675 pixels with a 36 pixel bleed and 36 pixel margin, which puts the total size plus bleed at 1122 x 747, which is what I want.  I have also tried setting it to the same values, except as points.

       

      When the image places, it is much smaller than I expect, and although under link info the picture properties are 1122 x 747, actual and effective PPI 300, when I measure it on the page it says it is 269.28 x 179.28 pt or px, depending on what I change the preference to.  However, if I measure it in inches, it is the correct 3.75 in by 2.5 in nominal without bleed.

       

      So, obviously the document is assuming a 72 points per inch resolution, and 1 pixel = 1 point, instead of the 300 pixels per inch that I want it to be, and it's changing the image pixel size to match the correct actual inch size.

       

      I've found I can get around this by setting my document to 3.75 x 2.5 inches, which makes some sense, but I can't wrap my head around why it behaves the way it does.

       

      So, why is a document size of 1122 pixels x 747 pixels actually a document of 269.28 pixels by 179.28 pixels?  I just want a 1122 x 747 pixel canvas that is completely filled by a placed 1122 x 747 pixel image.  Why is it so hard?

        • 1. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
          John Mensinger Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          1. It's a print project. Forget pixels, (as a unit of measure for the document).

          2. In the New Document Dialog, set the Intent to Print, and the page size to 3.5 x 2.25 inches with .12 bleeds.

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
            Doc Maik Level 4

            Mirrordude wrote:

             

            So, why is a document size of 1122 pixels x 747 pixels actually a document of 269.28 pixels by 179.28 pixels?  I just want a 1122 x 747 pixel canvas that is completely filled by a placed 1122 x 747 pixel image.  Why is it so hard?

            Because the Indesign document is not 300dpi. Typical screen document is 72dpi, which makes the ratio as 300:72 = 4.167. Your 1122 pixels divided by 4.167 result in 269.28 pixels in Indesign.

             

            As John said, rather make the document as big as the cards, then place image and it will be fine.

            1 person found this helpful
            • 3. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
              Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

              Or if you really want to use pixels as a unit of measure, save your images at 72 pp.

              1 person found this helpful
              • 4. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                Mirrordude Level 1

                OK, so that's what I was thinking, but I don't understand why it's not more clear.  What I'm worried about is that InDesign will not output my background pixel for pixel to my original file, because the interface makes it seem like it's scaling it to 72ppi and then back to 300 ppi.  As long as the final 1147x747 output jpg or png is exactly what I originally input, I'm OK with this.  Can anyone confirm that the software doesn't put the image through any kind of scaling process as long as I follow this workflow?

                1 person found this helpful
                • 5. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                  When you select pixels as your unit, ID maps them to a ruler unit equal to 1 pt, so your rulers are showing 72 ppi.

                   

                  When you place, if you've save the image at 300 ppi it also includes a physcial dimension that corresponds to the number of pixels divided by the resolution. ID reads that physical dimension and uses it as 100% scale, so your image appears to have been scaled down, but it's the same pixels, crammed into a smaller space. Scaling up or down in ID has no effect wahtever on the pixel information in the image.

                   

                  Pixels have no physical size. If you print your image on a balloon you can blow it up very large, and the number of pixels in the image does not change. Similarly, resolution has no meaning until you put an image into physical form. As you blow up that balloon the same image pixels are changing resolution in inverse ratio to the amount of expansion. ID works in the physical world. Your pages have "real" dimensions and you scale you content to fit those real dimensions any way you like.

                  • 6. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                    Mirrordude Level 1

                    Yes, I understand that, but as a very picky person I don't want any math operations done to my file, even ones that purportedly result in the same end product.  In the computer world, because of the way floating point math works, 2.0000 X 2.12345 / 2.12345 does not always equal 2.0000 exactly if the multiplication and division are done as separate operations.  I'm a professional CAD designer, and in that world I have seen just how ugly some of these math errors can get when they repeat several times.  I'm relatively new to Photoshop and image manipulation, but it seems analgous to CAD math data, and being someone who works to extremely exact dimensions in math files regularly, software that does unexpected things with conversions gives me the willies.

                     

                    Not to mention, it's incredibly poor HMI design to make a canvas that is 1147 x 747 pixels, and then have an 1147 x 747 pixel image not fill it exactly.

                     

                    However, I will accept "that's just the way it is" as an answer, as long as it works out in the end.  But Adobe really needs to revisit their HMI for inDesign if they want to appeal to people that are designing for digital screens and not printers.

                     

                    Thanks to everyone for their valuable input!

                    • 7. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                      Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                      Using ID for anything but print  is a new workflow, and you're quite right, it isn't really designed for it. Putting wings and a propeller on  a car won't make it a real airplane.

                      • 8. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                        And didn't you start all of this by saying you were designing a deck of cards to be printed?

                        • 9. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                          Mirrordude Level 1

                          Yes, but the printer wants an 1122x747 png or jpg file, not something else.  And I also intend to use this for iOS design, which also works only in exact pixels, not in physical dimensions.

                           

                          But mostly, the HMI is unsettling and the results are unexpected for placement and it's not immediately intuitive why, and if I'm using software, I want to know exactly what it is doing. :-)  I spent a half day googling the issue and didn't find a definitive answer despite finding dozens of people asking this same type of question, so even though I thought I had it figured out, I figured if I created a clear question with good discussion that it would be of use to other people in future google searches.  Hello future people!

                          • 10. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                            Daniel Flavin Level 4

                            Having lurked this thread to its end, I have to state...jpg or png, at 300 effective dpi is a poor file format for printed matter.

                            • 11. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                              Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                              Mirrordude wrote:

                               

                              Yes, but the printer wants an 1122x747 png or jpg file, not something else.

                              Then you should find another printer who can handle PDF. Both of those are web image formats, not print formats and they will not properly render your type (are you putting numbers on these cards) or other vector data (the suit icons should probably be vector, maybe even the whole card).

                              • 12. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                                Mirrordude Level 1

                                Perhaps, but this is the template they provide:

                                 

                                http://www.printerstudio.com/dl/pc-guide/bridge-size.pdf

                                 

                                I've been happy with their results.

                                 

                                Also, perhaps I'm not understanding the process corrently, but they shouldn't be doing any rendering, I believe?  I'll export 1122x747 png files from InDesign, and that's where the rendering will take place. (Assuming rendering is properly described as the point at which vector data is converted to pixels).

                                • 13. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                                  Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                  I can't find anything on their site that talks about file format requirements, and the template certainly looks to me like they intend for you to be working in inches, not pixels. The references in the template to pixels are guides to how large your images need to be at 300 ppi, and are probably misleading as much as they might be helpful.

                                   

                                  Vector data should NEVER be converted to raster data in ID. That should be left to the RIP which will convert it at the resolution of the press, probably 2880 ppi.

                                  • 14. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                                    Daniel Flavin Level 4

                                    You've been happy with their product, I expect you wil be happy with your next.

                                    In the industry, 600 dpi would be the minimal threshold for type matter. I can spot anything under 1200 which as accepted sweet spot, and my eyes are old.

                                     

                                    Peter might expand on, I believe, that jpg/png will not carry any color profile data used for critical color reproduction.

                                     

                                    They have set up a "least common denomitator" system for elimination of errors. jpg is pretty bulletproof for wysiwyg.

                                    You are buying custom made product at commodity cost. A fair trade-off.

                                    • 15. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                                      Mirrordude Level 1

                                      Thanks for the additional information.  The print cards are for a physical prototype of the iOS version, so I'm more worried about cost than quality.  And since I'm interested ultimately in pixel exact output for iOS, I'm trying to understand exactly the process InDesign uses.  ID is great for a card game because you can make major changes to backgrounds or formatting, or change the costs or powers of cards in a spreadsheet and then very quickly produce new files, as opposed to opening 118 files or layer groups in Photoshop.

                                      • 16. Re: Why are my placed images smaller than I expect?
                                        Peter Spier Most Valuable Participant (Moderator)

                                        I work strictly for print, but it seems to me if your ultimate destination is iOS, you should be setting up the file, as you are, in pixels, at the screen dimension, and you should be saving the images in Photoshop at the exact size in pixels, at 72 ppi, then placing those into ID at 100%.

                                         

                                        I would not necessarily expect to get a decent print from this file, but that apparenlty is not an issue.