ASK ANDY




DTP QUESTIONS & ANSWERS, PART IV



Since last month, I've received several DTP related questions so it's time for another Questions and Answers roundup please feel free to send any questions or comments to the email address below.

DROP SHADOWS:

Q. I've added some soft drop shadows to some heading text in a brochure I'm creating in Adobe PageMaker and I created the shadows as 300dpi greyscale images, to sit behind text in PageMaker. A colleague says I should have used at least 800dpi to get the shadows looking good and clear he would never use anything less than 800dpi. So, do I really need to re-do all the shadows at 800dpi? Thanks Jean.

A. No! Don't worry about re-doing them, 300dpi should be more than enough. The resolution required depends upon the halftone screen frequency used when printing the final images and generally images should have a resolution of between 1.2 to 2 times the halftone screen frequency. Therefore, with 300 dpi images, you could easily run them at up to 150 to 175 LPI screen frequency and they'd be fine so if you're using a screen of anything less than say 200 you'll be fine.

Incidentally, 800dpi greyscales would be far too high a resolution, the extra resolution would do nothing to improve the images, but would add greatly to the file size, and make the files unwieldy to work with in Photoshop.

You are using PageMaker, but if you were using QuarkXPress, it would generally ignore resolutions higher than twice the screen frequency anyway. When you print from QuarkXPress it calculates the screen frequency and compares this to the resolution of your images (but only CMYK or greyscale TIFF images - it ignores line art images where you need high resolution or EPS images). If the images have a resolution of more than twice the screen frequency it'll sub-sample the images and only send twice the screen frequency resolution to the printer. You can turn this feature off if you wish to send the full resolution data to the printer, but in Quark's mind, any image resolution of more than twice the screen frequency will only slow the printing (as there is more data to send) and there would be no increase in image quality.

You were also correct in setting the heading text as normal text in PageMaker, then adding the shadows behind as Photoshop greyscale images. This way the heading text in PageMaker above the shadows will remain crisp and sharp. If you had create all the text, (shadows & headings) in Photoshop, the non-shadowed text would look pixelated compared to that straight from PageMaker.

One point to note about drop shadow effects is effect of dot gain on the printing press. When you create the shadows, try to create them lighter rather than heavier (say 70% black rather than 100% black) - as they're more likely to darken (rather than lighten) on press due to dot gain etc.

You can lighten them first in Photoshop to compensate for the darkening on press later. Depending upon the press certain percentages of black may gain ink when printing - so 60% black in Photoshop really prints as 68%, 70% in PS prints as 76% and so on so that anything above say 91% prints as 100% etc (These are just examples - the exact values depend upon the actual printing press). If you can ask your printer for dot gain values and you could compensate for it - however, at worst, dot gain will make the shadows print darker than expected.

ADDING FONTS ON MY PC:

Q. I've running Windows 95 on my PC, and I've tried adding some new fonts, but all I get is an error message saying that the fonts may be damaged? All my fonts have worked until now, I've around 840 TrueType fonts already installed, and it's never been a problem before? I've tried the exact same font files on my husbands PC and they install perfectly but they just refuse to work on my PC. Help! Thanks Geraldine.

A. 840 fonts is quite a few to have installed at the same time! This might also be the answer to the problem.

Windows 95 has a limit of around 1000 installed TrueType fonts. The actual value can vary depending upon the length of the font filename and path on your hard drive. All installed fonts are recorded as a single key in the Windows 5 registry, and a key has a maximum size of 64K. Therefore if all your fonts have long filenames or paths, the 64K would be reached sooner than with fonts with shorter filenames and paths. So, the shorter the filenames and paths, the more fonts you can have installed.

Even with shorter filenames, 840 installed fonts would start to slow down your computer, and increase start-up time. Try to uninstall any fonts you don't require on a regular basis, and simply install more as and when you need them (and uninstall them once you are finished working with them).

This helps to keep the number of fonts installed down to a more workable number, and you should be able to install new ones too.

To get those new fonts to install, try removing as many of the 840 fonts as you can - but leave the 'Windows required' fonts such as Arial, Windings, Marlett, Courier New, Times New Roman etc. This will reduce the size of the fonts key in the Windows 95 registry and those new fonts should install fine.

One way to organize TrueType fonts in Windows 95 is to create a folder on your hard drive, called something like 'Font Reserve' and move all the non-essential fonts into it. Then as you need fonts, install them from this 'Font Reserve' folder, but with the "Copy fonts to Fonts folder" de-selected. This will create a font shortcut icon in the main fonts folder, and gives you the option to delete the shortcut and therefore uninstall the font (rather than deleting the font files themselves.).

This idea can be taken further, and further folders within the 'Font Reserve' folder can be created to organize families of fonts, or fonts required for a particular document or project. Once the document or project is complete, it's safe to delete just the shortcuts in the fonts folder to uninstall the fonts - leaving the actual files safe in the 'Font Reserve' folder. This way, anything with a shortcut can be safely deleted, without permanently deleting the font files.

I welcome any DTP and graphics questions or comments, and please feel free to send them to me via the email address below. It's great to hear from readers, so keep the questions and comments coming.

Until next month, happy computing & DTP'ing!

Andy.
CONTACT: andrew.davidson@onyx.octacon.co.uk



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