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Is Posterization a Good or a Bad Thing in a Photograph?

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Posterization example

Examples of Posterization (right); All the FAQs: Career & Business | Software | Design & Layout | Graphics | Type & Fonts | Prepress & Printing

Question: Is Posterization a Good or a Bad Thing in a Photograph?
Posterization is an effect that uses a limited color palette or range of tones. A posterized image doesn't have subtle gradients or continuous tones; no smooth transition from one color to the next. Posterization can be intended or unintended.
Answer: An image with unwanted posterization exhibits banding or sudden shifts in color. It can occur with improper image-editing or poor photographic or scanning techniques. Converting an image to GIF or other formats with limited color palettes can introduce posterization artifacts and unwanted color shifts.

On the other hand, images may be intentionally posterized to give a photographic image a stylized line art or impressionist painting appearance. Once a complicated darkroom process, today intentional posterization can be done in just a few clicks in Adobe Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, or other image-editing software.

In the sidebar, the two images on the left half are a digital photograph and a gradient fill with no posterization. After posterization, the banding or color shift is obvious in the images in the right half.

All the FAQs: Career & Business | Software | Design & Layout | Graphics | Type & Fonts | Prepress & Printing

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