Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Anti-Alias

What kind of term is Anti-Alias and what does it do for me?
Anti-Alias is simply a method of fooling the eye that a jagged edge is really smooth.
So why can't I make a smooth edge on my computer? Because computer images are made up of tiny square pixels.  When you want to make a straight line, you'll be able to have a straight line of pixels stacked up one another.  However when you have an angle or a curve, the pixels can't bend as they need to fill in that block, thus seeing the steps of the rounded edge. 
That is where anti-alias comes in handy.

The clever system that anti-aliasing uses to fool your eyes into thinking that a line is not jagged is to use subtle changes in color around the curved or diagonal area. These slight changes in color make the image blend around curves and giving the impression that the line in true. The colou changes are on such a small scale that you eyes cannot detect them under normal circumstances
**taken from Panther Products website**

Make sure when you use the marque tool (the cutter tool) in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro you always have the anti-alias option checked.  Back when I first started designing no matter how many times I tried to make a smooth circle I couldnt and didn't understand why.  Then one day, not too many days later, I realized I had unchecked that box.  Boy did that make a difference.

So how can you see if your anti-alias is check-marked. 
Open your program and click on the marque tool.
From there, look to the top of the screen and you'll see the following in Photoshop CS4
(hopefully the same for the other versions)

Or the following in Paint Shop Pro X2
(hopefully in the other versions as well)

To see what I am talking about, here is an example in Photoshop CS4 with the anti-alias unchecked:
Are the edges (pixels) are more noticeable to the naked eye?
Notice how the edge is jagged--you can see the steps of the circle!

Now take a look at this circle with the anti-alias checked
Doesn't that look like a smooth, round circle the way our eye is used to seeing an image?
That is the difference between on checked or unchecked button.

Make sure when you are using shapes Anti-Alias is ALWAYS checked!