QA Iteration Process Part 1 – RRs and Early Stages

How to Process Blocks

With the Greatest Efficiency

Some preliminary useful tools:

Commonly used RRs

RR1c            150-255            160-255            170-255

RR1b           140-255            150-255            160-255

RR1              130-255            140-255            150-255

RR1a           120-255            130-255            140-255

RR1z            110-255            120-255            130-255

RR1y           100-255            110-255            120-255

Spreadsheet Codes (most common are in bold)

S = Speckle                           W = Washout                                               PS1 = Post PS1 Step 6

EB = Erase Blemishes         Fail = Layer Sep, Streaking, etc.         Nuclear = Post nuclear PS1 Step 6a

WF = Water Fill                  Hash = hashing washout in ponds   MC = Match color

GF = Green Fill                   PS1, Manual = fix in PS                            PWF = Photoshop white fill – usu paint bkt

CC = Connect Contours  CW = Contour washout                          BOLD = bright urban or purple

RC = Replace Color          WW = Water washout                            YG = Yellow Green

CS = Clone Stamp              HR = High Relief is cloudy                    OW = Orchard washout

OF = Orcahrd Fill (darken) (or CS)                                                   UW = urban Washout

UF = Urban Fill                   BF = Brown Fill

(**) = Known but acceptable issue – ** means anything could be written in


*If GW/WW is in a specific location, put in the comments “needs GF in NW corner” or “Needs WF at top” If the GW/WW is all over the map, then just write “GW, go to Post PS1 file” so Aren knows to reprocess the whole thing.

* Stuff you’re leaving in the final product but want to make sure you make note of should be written after “Done” in the comments column. A common example: “Done (sm EB)”

How to make notes on the spreadsheet for the Photoshop Crew

1. Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – or – How to find the fastest way to fix an oh-so-close file.  Almost every file includes some small trade-off or another. Whether it’s a small amount of speckle that needs to be removed manually so features that are hard to recover don’t wash out, or you’re filling water or darkening green in Photoshop because you just can’t get rid of the speckle any other way.  Everyone has their own understanding of how the Photoshop tools work to fix the files, and it just takes practice to know what is going to get you to the finish line on a file the fastest.  Each file will have a sweet spot – the place where it’s “Done” with the fewest compromises and NO unacceptable feature washout or speckling left behind. Similarly, each file will have an ideal solution to reach this sweet spot. Sometimes it’s quickest to fix things in a MIPS edit session, other times PS is the ticket. As a general rule you should spend no more than 10 minutes doing EB on a file, and no more than 15 total to EB and fix any GW, WW or small S issues, and 20 minutes for a file that requires CS or layer sep fix.

EXAMPLE: Problem – top half is close to washout, but the bottom has speckling. Fastest Solution – use the polygon selection to select only the bottom half of the map, run a replace color to remove the speckle,  and the top portion is left unadulterated.  An alternate solution here would be to export two versions of this file and use clone stamp to paint back on the washed out parts of the speckle-free-bottom map. In this scenario I think the RC is fastest, but it really depends on the speckle.

2. As you begin to move through some RR1 blocks you will find that the majority of fixed required are EB. So, how do you know when it “Needs EB,” “Needs sm EB” or you can just say (sm EB) and not fix it? My rule sets are as follows, and a “frame” refers to a view window that is maximized on a 30” screen at 100%. If your screen is smaller, you may need to adjust your numbers a bit, but the trend holds.

0-5 frames have 1 or more “B”  ->  Done (sm EB)  ->  The file is done


5-10 frames have 1 of more “B”  ->  Done, Needs sm EB  -> go back in an edit session and clean



10+ frames have 1 or more “B”  -> Done, Needs EB   -> likely needs to be cleaned in Photoshop



Quite often, there will be a determination as to whether it is quicker to use the Brush tool set to “darken “ mode or to use the clone stamp between two files, and the determining factor is how continuous the green is and how wide the river or lake is. In the following examples, the brush, to darken, could be used at a large size to darken the green with just a few clicks in the example on the left. The only trick here is making sure you know there are no intended ‘holes’ in the green that can’t be seen because of too much washout when advising to use the brush. The brush should never be recommended if the border of the green is unclear. However the middle and right files have too many edges to the green. So for these files’ washout fix, CS is most appropriate.



If you have a file where the clone stamp would be appropriate (winding rivers, intricate edges to green and blue features, orchards, contours ALL should be fixed with CS unless extremely minor) you’ll need to set yourself up with a folder system that makes it easy to keep track of the files that need to be exported to PS and those that can stay as rvcs. Below is an example of an empty folder structure I keep ready for RR1 files. I have empty folders for my most commonly used RRs, a spreadsheet template, and folders ready to sort files based on their needs. Inside the done folder are the folders waiting for the tiffs from the respective rvc folders kept along side the done for easy sorting. I gather that each individual station will have their own technique for sorting and running RRs to find optimal versions, but I hope you all can conform to the “Done>0_duds to delete” and “Done>_fixed”


Types of fixes to put into the “exp to quick fix” folder: Needs EB, Needs WF, Needs GF, Needs BF

Types of fixes to put into the “0 needs export to _fixed” folder: Needs CC, Needs CS, Needs layer sep fix

Types of files to put into the “0 needs export to dud” folder: crap files with features to copy into good files

Appendix A – breakdown of spreadsheet terminology/ how to properly fill out a spreadsheet

1. Notice the color coding of the block ID number and file count. The color coding of the file count is changed once it is determined how many trouble files there are. In this block, no files required manual white set or serious Photoshop work, so the bad file count is zero. While there are some files going to be processed in Photoshop, they are going there for 10-15 minute fixes and not for 15+ minute fixes. Only 15+ minute fixes change can change this color coding from green.

2. “Needs” is the crucial indicator of whether a file has been processed or needs processing.

3. Only completely finished files will have “Done” standing alone (or with parentheses).

4. Parentheses are crucial for identifying all things that are considered acceptable for now, but will be fixed if we have time in a later version or something.

5. Different people might have a hand in completing all of the Photoshop work that needs to be done. Appendix C shows extra columns as the progression of the block reaches completion.


Appendix B

A completed spreadsheet by one person all in one day. A more likely scenario would have the same operator enter a column for the next date they touched the file as a PS Crew member not QA crew member.




Appendix C   Multiple people completing a block



Some basic pointers that can increase your overall optimization:

  1. Don’t run Photoshop and MIPS at the same time. Only go from A1 to H8 when you sort.  When it comes time to fix things is when I will open edit sessions or use Photoshop.  Group all of your PS fixes into folders and then have, perhaps, only one day a week that you spend a morning catching up all of your random files. Or if you don’t feel you’re being efficient enough, then just pass your PS work off to the Photoshop Crew. In the rare occasion that I decide to edit something mid-QA, then I will QA a file while waiting for the edit session to load all of its tools – sometimes I can even QA two files in this time. It seems silly, but its amazing how those little minutes here and there add up.
  2. I actually rarely open an edit session until I’ve looked at all 64. Others may find that there is enough EB to just do the QA in an edit session (opposed to just a view window) to avoid opening a file a second time. I have no evidence here to corroborate, which is faster, but right now I will just say it is my personal preference to sort and then fix later.
  3. Even if there is only small EB required, still try looking at (or running like in the case of a 1z). You’ll be amazed at how well it can clean up without making more washout!
  1. Keep your window frame maximized and use arrow keys. This can be more taxing on your eyes, but files go by a lot quicker!
  2. Careful with using RR1z and RR1y (for RR1, this is translatable to RR3 as well!)! Water, streams, ridgelines can disappear!
  3. Careful filling out the spreadsheet. If you ‘miss’ a file, your descriptions could get “shifted-up”
  4. If your Clone Stamp gets a slight “shift” in the target/destination process, stop and reset your origin! This can cause serious error that we do not want!! Be very careful using CS!!!
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