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November 7, 2012


Replies: 14

Hi Res Images on High End Hardware

kwrobinso Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012

My business just recently hired a new graphic designer. He is going to be doing a lot of hi res work, such as large posters and billboards, that kind of thing. I work in the IT Dept so it is my job to get a computer for this guy. We purchased a lot of expensive equipment and basically built him a computer from scratch. It is a very powerful computer in my opinion (it's easily the most expensive computer we have at our firm.) Anyways, our graphic designer is having problems meeting deadlines and started complaining a lot about his computer. I know these images he is working on can be huge. For example, one image i noticed was something like 500 mb. It is 300 pixels per inch and it is roughly 8' x 12'. I know that is a huge image. I know it would take a lot of computer to handle an image that size. What I'm wondering is what you would recommend to get this computer to perform better. Is there any software that works better than others. We've been using photoshop and gimp. I don't know what else he uses, that is kind of up to him. I'm wondering if any computer at all could handle an image that big and run smoothly. I would imagine even the best computer would have problems with performance when working with art that large and I kind of think the artist can find ways to deal with the size rather than straight out blaming the computer. What do you people think? What can be done? What would you recommend. I think we are at the limit of what hardware can accomplish, this computer basically can't get any better than it already is. I would appreciate any advice you may have.

Thank you,

Kristin Robertson

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Devious Comments

Black-Allison Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012
I'm wondering if any computer at all could handle an image that big and run smoothly.
I've printed out 3x2ft posters from an half dead overheating 3 year old macbook and the biggest thing I've ever done was a 7ft. 8x12 is like one inch bigger than a regular sheet of paper.

He should know what kind of machine he needs. To me if he's having problems with a regular 300dpi 8x12 incher maybe he isn't organizing his stuff right. Your computer sounds perfectly fine. If you can run WoW on your computer, you definitely can run 3 Adobe programs on the same time. However if you have a lot of active filters and effects on, rasters on your AI files, pasted images in InDesign, that can all bog down your computer.

Unless your fans are shot and causing overheating, I seriously think it's probably him.
kwrobinso Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012
Yes, the operating system is in fact the 64-bit version of Win 7 Ultimate.
cynicalcoffee Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Such large files will always run a little sluggishly, virtually regardless of your hardware. They're huge, and photoshop is a raster based program, which tracks images pixel by pixel. I'm not sure people caught that you were talking in feet, and not inches. The baseline document size the actual psd file is about 2G for 8'x12', and more layers accumulate on that. If your designer tries to work at that size, the only thing you can do is go into photoshop's performance preferences, and increase the amount of RAM it allows itself.

As a test, I made a file of an equal size, and increased the amount of RAM photoshop is able to access while running to 100% of available, which on my machine is 14G. This does result in a moderate speed up over my normal 8 (for such a large file), but it doesn't eliminate chop. It's still sluggish on some operations, especially large fills.

Some suggestions for your designer. Consider doing it to scale in illustrator. Since vectors are infinitely scale-able, he/she can just scale it up for delivery. Another option is to split the billboard into pieces, working in multiple, smaller files, and composite them at the end. Both approaches require a fair amount of forethought and planning, but they should help with performance issues.

To reiterate, for your edification, it's an issue with the artist's workflow, not your hardware. This is actually a common problem in billboard design, and one which I found solutions to with a single search on google. Your artist will need to make a fundamental change in their approach to creating large dimension images, or put up with photoshop being sluggish.
kwrobinso Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2012
Thank you CynicalCoffee,

I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. Your's was the best reply I've came across so far. I personally think Illustrator would be the way to go. I will take this information into account.
prisma61 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I regularly paint digitally in files that are 16in * 21in, and experience almost no slow down, unless using specialized brushes. My machine has 32GB RAM, 17GB for PS, but I also have an OpenSUSE VM, Eclipse, Dreamweaver, the office suite, and various other programs open nearly all the time.

As mentioned, the specs that you have outlined above are perfectly adequate. Sounds like your new designer is looking for a scapegoat.
cynicalcoffee Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
A reoccurring theme to one of the large threads I've been reading on the topic has also been, "Ask your printer what they want/need" Apparently a lot of printers take scale files, and enlarge them to print at a lower resolution, because size and distance will negate the effect of lowering the print resolution. Maybe your printer wants such a large, high resolution file, but then maybe they don't, which would mean your artist doesn't even need to work so large.
achipps Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You did not say it is a 64 bit version of Windows 7 Ultimate

That would use the full 12gb of ram. While the 86 platform or 32 bit same thing only supports 4 Gb of the ram installed.

500 Mb is nothing in Photoshop. Photoshop can be set to use 70% or 95% of the ram on an image and work fine well over the 12Gb of ram.

I used older versions on computers that didn't have a Gig of ram, and I saved a PSD file that was more than 1Gb. It was slow handling more than the ram, and ir I saved the file as a BMP it created a problem because I didn't have enough ram to open it. I save the image Photoshop saved until I had more ram and it opened fine, but while I didn't have enough ream ir was saying the file was corrupt.

So in order for Photoshop to have any problems with the file it would need to exceed the ram at least a forth. If it is a 32 bit Windows a 5Gb image would cause problems and run slow. because it exceeds the 4 Gb of ram. 64 bit is unlimited amount of ram so if you have 100Gb of ram Windows 64 bit version can use it all.

You can tell by going to my computer and right click and go to properties. If you are running a 32 bit version it will show 32bit or 86 platform.

If your processor can handle 64 bit it will say 64bit capable yes.

I think the problem is the file size is 5Gb and you are running a 32 bit version of Windows 7.

Change to 64 bit version if it says the processor can handle 64bit.
kwrobinso Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012
The machine isn't particularly warm. Its in a well ventilated area and has a good amount of cooling. The specs are as follows:

Intel Core i7 2600k @ 3.4 GHz
12GB of DDR3
Windows 7 Ultimate
64GB SSD Drive for OS
300GB WD VelociRaptor @ 10,000 RPM for Storage

We were first using a Nvidia Quadro graphics card and we switched to a more desktop gaming type graphics card. Our designer complained about the $1100 Quadro graphics and so we installed a $500 gaming graphics card instead.

Looking back now, it is a decent computer but I guess its not our best computer on property. I still think it is enough to do the artwork in question.
This computer doesn't have a lot of excess software installed. Our designer has another (separate) computer on his desk for other office work and web browsing. I did notice that Adobe Illustrator was installed and he us using that quite often. I know we were having memory issues with a piece of software. I forgot what it was specifically now. I'm pretty sure it was an error message regarding virtual memory, which after investigating I found a lot of other users with the same issue. We downloaded a patch that was supposed to take care of it.

More than anything I think it is an operator issue rather than a hardware issue. That is why I came here to try to get some proof. I had a feeling that when working with large files, a skilled artist can find ways to work around the issue and solve the problem to produce the work that is requested regardless of computer hardware. I also was thinking that the hardware in question couldn't be a problem because there isn't much more we can upgrade in this computer. I should also mention that this wasn't the first computer we gave him. The first computer he was given when he was first hired wasn't "professional" enough so we ended up piecing this computer out for him.

The bottom line is, I think this computer should be fine for what he is trying to produce. I think, more than anything, we are dealing with an unskilled artist that is blaming the computer because he isn't skilled enough to do his job. What do you guys think? I know its probably hard to say given the small amount of info you were given but from what info you have what is your opinion?

Thanks again,

Kristin Robertson
MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2012
Ya the computer sounds fine. Its better then mine lol and i do a lot of crap in ps..i sometimes(rarely) experience memory issues when working on HUGE files..OVer 50 layers with a ton of high rez textures when matte painting. It doesnt really bother me.....i just deal with it, msotly happens towards the end of the project when i have a ton of stuff in the file....

...I would just double check and look into and make sure that adobe photoshop is the 64bit version and thats whats hes using. Youll get more memory out of the 64 bit since it uses what the computer has and the 32bit has a max just under 4g of memory i think. With the 64bit ps the memory can be adjusted to use a certain amount or max out the memory, using what the computer has total. Depending on what you need.

I honestly think that the person should be able to work around things like this or change something in ps to help with the issue. the computer is solid, so that leaves me to their knowledge,maybe they need to look into it more. Like Friendly said. They might have to get schooled again in certain things. Especially for work, this should be something your doing anyways if your getting issues, being self sufficient is the #1 trait for an artist lol... The computer seems fine have the person look into managing huge files or changing something in their workflow. It seems to me they dont really have any experience with gigantic files, so freshening up is a must for them at this point.

Also idk what being done with the files when their done. But if theyre being printed id suggest the person talk to the person printing it so they know what exactly the need regarding the file for print. I had an issue when working on gigantic banner being printed. If it was a 2ftx4ft banner the files didnt need to be 2ftx4ft, i was able to work half the size and it wouldnt effect the print quality. idk just throwing it out their.
FriendlyHand Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
It sounds like there might already be a strained relationship between the two of you. That can happen some times. I agree that the hardware seems sufficient at least! Maybe achipps' 64 bit suggestion will provide some relief for the symptom. ALSO... does your version of photoshop utilize 64bit? (I think that would be CS4 or newer and might require some settings changes in the application)

Maybe the artist is unskilled. Maybe he is skilled but needs to learn some techniques for managing large files. Maybe he's just one of those people who is always complaining.

If your main concern is finding a solution then do some googling and find some videos in which artists discuss large file sizes and system specs as well as techniques for improving efficiency.

example: How to handle large files (11GB for example) in photoshop CS4 (using PSB): [link]

MichaelMetcalf Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
I worked at a company that printed billboards for a while and we handled some huge files. I think it's good that you have an idea of the areas to be examined :

1) the machine: As Matt asked, what are the specs? is there unnecessary software installed?
2) the file: Search large format pre-press forums for tips about handling large files effectively.
3) the software: If the files are all text or mostly text, Adobe illustrator may be an option but it depends on the job and the experience of the artist. Close all other applications while processing a large file.
4) the artist: Experience usually breeds a variety of methods for workflow optimization. If he/she is new to this type of file then techniques will probably evolve with time. Again, search for tips online.

I would recommend that you collaborate with the artist to address ALL FOUR of these areas and do not simply go to the boss with a recommendation.

MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
it also could be more of an operator issue then a computer/hardware problem :)
MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
if its a memory issue you can go into ps and change the amount of memory photoshop uses. Check under the "edit" tab then go to the bottom to "preferences" then scroll over to the performance tab, you can try increasing the memory, see if that helps any for a memory issue.
MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2012
do u know the spec of that machine off hand?what is he complaining about? Are the files getting really bogged down due to the file size, does it lag for him when transforming things. does he encounter photoshop memory errors? That file size isnt bad. I work with larger sizes just fine on my machine. It isnt the best but works just fine with ps even when my file sizes exceed 600mb. Photoshop isnt the problem. DO u notice his machine getting really hot?
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