Creating New Documents
Technically, creating new files is a cinch. The hard part is having a clear mind in advance as to what file requirements the file should have. Is it going to be used for the Web, print, or both? Are you designing a whole page, or just a page element? How you initially set up your file depends on having a pretty good answer to these questions.
After you have this information, creating a new document is a matter of following these steps:
Select File, New (or Command-N/Ctrl+N). The New Document dialog box appears, as shown in Figure 3.1. In the New Document dialog box you can specify your new document's dimensions, background color, and resolution.
In the Canvas Size section, enter the width and height of the new document. Fireworks allows three units of measurement: pixels, inches, and centimeters. Because Fireworks is a Web-oriented program, you should stick with the default unit of measurement: pixels.
Determine the resolution. If this document is for the Web, you should set the resolution to 72 pixels/inches.
Specify the background color from among three options: white, transparent, and custom. Fireworks sets white as the default canvas color. You can set the background color to transparent if you are going to export your image as a GIF or PNG and want it to lie seamlessly over an existing page. Alternatively, you can select a custom color for the document by clicking the color box and selecting a color from the pop-up.
Figure 3.1 The New Document dialog box appears when you create a new file. Use it to set up your document's size, level of detail (resolution), and background color.
Õ For more information on determining resolution, see "Understanding Resolution," in the next section.
Notice that as you specify the width and height of the new document, Fireworks shows you the size of the document in kilobytes and megabytes. This measurement does not take into account any compression, though, so most of your output files won't really be this large.
Resolution is a fundamental concept of working with graphics, especially bitmap graphics. Don't forget that almost all file types to which Fireworks exports (including GIF, JPEG, PNG, and TIF) are bitmaps.
Resolution refers to the amount of detail stored in an image. Remember from Chapter 1, "Getting to Know Fireworks," that bitmap graphics are rectangular tables containing rows and columns of pixels. These tables work like a gigantic and invisible grid. Resolution determines how many rows and columns are in the grid.
The traditional measurement for resolution is dots per inch, or dpi. The more dots per inch to describe the image, the smaller the pixels. Of course, the more dots, the more information that has to be stored. There is a simple inverse relationship between quality and file size: The higher the resolution, the more dots, the better the image quality (which is good) and the larger the file size (which is bad). Most file types (PNG, GIF, JPEG, TIF) have some sort of compression that improves this inverse relationship between file size and image quality, but it still underlies all bitmaps.
Thus, your goal is to have a high enough resolution to sustain high quality images, but a low enough resolution to ensure reasonable file sizes. Acceptable image quality and reasonable file sizes are, of course, completely relative to your (and your user's) needs.
Having said all this, there are some rule-of-thumb resolutions that you can use with confidence. First, for Web projects, always use 72dpi, as this is the accepted screen resolution, though on few monitors these days 72 pixels actually map out to an inch. Second, for print projects, you should use 266300dpi to ensure high-quality output. Printers are capable of outputting more detail than computer monitors, and it shows. Printing even simple text, which appears crisp onscreen at 72dpi, yields blurry and pixilated text on paper.