Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Making your photographs look professional with a little help from Image Editing.

How many times do you take a photograph of a design or of decor that you have made hoping to use it in your portfolio or on your website and are really disappointed with how it looks in the picture?

I suppose the first thing we need to look at is the camera we use. I use a little compact camera, as it's so easy for me to travel with. The great thing about my little camera is that I can set it to take pictures up to 10 MEGA Pixels, giving me high resolution photos. Personally, I have not had any success using my smart phone or tablet to take decent quality photographs. Don't get me wrong, they are great for taking snaps, but when your photo represents the work that you do, maybe it's worth getting a better quality photograph?

Even with a great camera we don't always get the perfect photograph. Maybe the background is not great or the lighting is too dark?

So how can we make our photographs look more professional?

Here is a photograph of a design that I made earlier this year when I was demonstrating on the Qualatex® stand at Spring Fair.  I found the most neutral background that I could (to make it easier for editing), and snapped my photograph. Once I returned home to my office, I looked through all my pictures and started the process of 'cleaning up'!

There are several things that you can do to make your photographs look so much better!

PicMonkey -

I discovered PicMonkey several years ago and love it! It's very easy to use and gives us many different editing opportunities. You can use the basic version free or pay an annual subscription of $33 to get PicMonkey Royale, which offer lots of extra goodies.

PicMonkey has 4 main function modes: Edit, Touch Up, Design and Collage, all of which you will be able to use for different purposes.

By simply opening your photograph in the Basic Edit function you can immediately start working on your image. You have several options to choose from:

  • Crop
  • Canvas Colour
  • Rotate
  • Exposure
  • Colours 
  • Sharpen
  • Resize

My aim was to make my design look brighter and lighter and used the Exposure function to achieve this. I would recommend that you try out all the different editing functions and see what each of them do as you can get some really great results.

See below for the before and after results. The design looks so much brighter; you can see much more detail in the balloons being used.

Here I have used another great function on PicMonkey to make this collage! By simply clicking on the Collage function, you get several layout options; there are even specific options to create your own unique Facebook cover or layouts for Pinterest or Etsy!

I now have my image looking so much better, but I would love to lose that background!

How to edit an image using Paths Tool in GIMP.


GIMP is a popular open-source image editor for Mac, Windows, and Linux that has slowly evolved to become a credible free alternative to programs like Adobe Photoshop. 

I've been using GIMP for a number of years now. And like anything new, it takes a little time to get use to it and all the many functions that it has to offer.

I have made a short video clip that will show you how to remove the background of an image. I will also show you how to change the background into a transparent (Alpha) layer that will allow us to add any colour or background that we want to use.

I am going to let you in on a little secret. Whilst writing this blog, I decided to do a little research and check to see if there was a better way to remove the background of an image than the way that I have been doing for the past few years, and guess what? There is! So after a few frustrating hours learning this new way, I am now ready to share this with you! It's actually very simple and quick, I just had to figure out a few simple things on my computer!

A few key step reminders:
  • Open image in GIMP
  • Open the toolbox if not already open.
  • Increase the size of the image (bottom left) so that you can easily trace around the edge.
  • Select Paths Tool from toolbox - see image on the right.
  • Using the Paths Tool set pointers around the edge of the image. 
  • Once you have connected the final point with the first point, click select, either by right clicking on the image or from the top toolbar.
  • In Select you now want to click on From Path.
  • Now click Layer and then Transparency, now click Add Alpha Channel - that will make the background transparent.
  • In Select you now want to click on Invert.
  • Now click Delete. That will remove the background and give it a 'Chequerboard' appearance.
  • In Select, click none.
  • Now Export the file making sure that you save it as a PNG file as this will allow you to save your image with a transparent background.

How to add a background colour to a PNG Image using GIMP

This next very short clip shows you how to add a background colour to your PNG Image using Gimp and Bucket-Fill.

So here it is, my 'cleaned-up' photograph with a white background! Now it's perfect to use on my website, Pinterest and my business Facebook page! Just make sure that you add your watermark to protect your image and to ensure that everyone know who created the design. 

I wrote a blog some time ago on how to create a simple logo and watermark, to read this blog CLICK HERE.

How to add a background colour to a PNG image using PicMonkey.

And finally, this last clip shows you how to add a coloured background to your PNG Image using PicMonkey. You can actually use GIMP for this purpose as you can change the foreground and background colours to different colours by simply double clicking on the black and white boxes and selecting the colour that you want to use. However, learning how to add a PNG Image to a Design in PicMonkey will give you so many exciting options!

And here is my final version of my edited photograph... just a little bit different from the original photograph. Once again using PicMonkey, I have added a frame and text; the creative options are endless!

This may seem a lot of information to learn, but I can assure you that it does not take long to perfect the techniques and the results are well worth the effort!

Have fun and happy ballooning!



Unknown said...

Sue how do you move the image while maintaining the path? I seem to keep losing it when I try to both edit the path and readjust the picture

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