Choosing GIF and JPEG Tools
Photoshop 4.0.1 does a great job producing good quality results at acceptable file sizes. but with Photoshop alone, you'' find yourself spending a lot of time going back and forth between modes, dialogs, files, and windows to determine file size and judge results. For sustained production of GIF and JPEG images, a plug-in with a live view of quality and size is essential. Two Photoshop plug-ins provide superior feedback during the process and can sometimes produce higher qualitiy images, smaller file sizes, or both: BoxTop Software's PhotoGIF and ProJPEG and Digital Frontier's HVS JPEG and HVS color GIF. Compare the test results and file sizes below to get an idea of the subtle range of difference these tools provide.
2. HVS JPEG 2.0 - 16,168 bytes.
3. BoxTop ProJPEG 2.1 - 21,577 bytes.
4. DeBabelizer 1.6.5 - 16,501 bytes.
2. HVS ColorGIF - 39,539 bytes. Looks best, but biggest file. Settings allow for smaller, less "compensated" files, too.
3. BoxTop GIF 2.1 - 33,546 bytes. Better shading than Photoshop, but a larger file.
4. Debabelizer 1.6.5 - 28,234 bytes. Of all these tools, only Debabelizer has not shifted the colors from their original values during reduction/compression.
Dithering: good, bad, and ugly
Todd Fahrner of Verso hosts a page that discusses dithering and introduces the WebScrub image optimization algorithm realized as freely-downloadable Photoshop plug-ins for Mac and Windows, as well as scripts for the image-processing program DeBabelizer (MacOS only at present). In a nutshell, the plug-in and script "biases" images toward the web palette by degrees, rather than simply slamming them to it, all or none. It's a must-have for web designers and at just the right price.
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