You can access Genuine Fractals from the main Photoshop menu by going to File > Automate > Genuine Fractals. Make sure you have an image open and if it contains layers that you select the background layer. By the way, this is a good time to tell you that GF supports layered files. You can resize your image and the plug-in will keep the layers intact. Be aware though that if you choose to use the gallery wrap feature, which I'll discuss a little later, it will flatten the file during processing.
Here is the interface once you open Genuine Fractals. I think this is a great interface with a very clean and simple look reminiscent of Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. On the left you'll see preview window where you can easily zoom in or out of the image. On the right are your input panels. Here you simply enter the output size you want and the resolution. Aside from this you can adjust texture (used to control how textured surfaces are preserved and enhanced) and add sharpening and film grain.
Two other features worth noting here are the ability to resize for specific applications. Canvas inkjet prints are all the rage right now and On One has been thoughtful enough to include a great feature for this type of print. You can scale your image to accommodate a very popular method of framing canvas prints – the gallery wrap. With this feature you can add to the borders of the image additional printed area to cover the part of the canvas that will be "wrapped" around the stretcher bars of the canvas frame. With this option you are given several choices of effects such as "reflect" or "stretch". This will determine how the image elements will be repeated over the wrap areas of the canvas. There is also a tiling feature which will section your enlarged image into equally sized tiles with or without overlap. This is great when you need to print a very big mural and you are limited by the carriage width of your printer. You can enter how big you want the tiles to be and whether you want some overlap at the seams and Genuine Fractals handles the rest. It divides the image into equally sized tiles that you can then print on your printer and then assemble on your wall. Now that we have a basic idea of how Genuine Fractals works let's look at the results.
As I mentioned earlier I chose an image with a lot of fine detail to test this plug-in. It's the image shown above in the preview window, which is an old historical pump house in south Texas. I enlarged this image with adjustment layers to a size of 40x60 inches. I then enlarged a second copy using Photoshop's bicubic smoother as a comparison. I also conducted the same test using a target size of 12x18 inches to see if GF was any better than bicubic at the smaller sizes. As I suspected I could not detect any noticeable advantage by using GF on the smaller size. This is not a knock on the plug-in, it simply confirms my suspicions that fractal technology doesn't come into its own until you really start getting big. Nevertheless, the fact that you can add sharpening and optimize for the textures in your image is a big plus for Genuine Fractals. The ability to also target your enlargement to a specific output like gallery wraps is also a big advantage.
Below you can see the results of my test with the 40x60 enlargement. I am including two sets of comparative 100% crops of the image done in Genuine Fractals and the one done in Photoshop.
Take a look at the lettering on the sign and the ridges of the corrugated tin siding. Notice the better defined edges, the increased texture, and the lack of overall softness with the GF sample. If you look closely at the light fixtures you can even see better definition in the lit filaments. This is truly amazing when you consider that this part of the image is in the far away background where it is hardly even visible when the image is viewed full length on my 24" monitor!
Now, let's look at a second sample. Again, the improved details of the siding is easy to see and if you look at the Texas state historical sign you can pick up the improvement in details there too. Now look at the foliage. The Photoshop bicubic sample is muddy compared to that from Genuine Fractals. The shaded areas of the leaves are better rendered giving more depth.
I should note that when I processed these images I did not apply any sharpening or any other element of post processing that might affect the direct results. I would think that with the use of sharpening the end product would be even that much better. So now we have a great way to resize images to really large sizes. Let's move on to problem number 2.
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