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raiscake
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raiscake
posts: 108

Hi everyone! Since a lot of people have questions about improving picture quality, I thought I should put up a tutorial on basic photo editing. I’ve noticed that many pictures I see on Chictopia are not edited at all, therefore they look too dark, blurry, and the outfit is hard to see. On the other hand, some pictures are so overedited that the colors looks too harsh and fake, so you still can’t see the outfit well. :P My goal is to show everyone how to enhance their photos without going overboard. I hope my tutorial helps you out. :D

PHOTO EDITORS
First off, you need a photo editing program. I recommend either Photoshop or GIMP. Photoshop is expensive but if you’re willing to make the most of it, it’s a great investment. However, I know that not everyone here aspires to be a graphic designer, so GIMP is a great alternative. It has almost all the options you’ll need for basic photo editing, and it’s totally free!

There are also online photo editors such as Piknik and Fotoflexer. These are very easy to use and edit photos well, but they don’t have much flexibility in terms of photo editing. Still if you prefer them, they’re great for simple editing.

Okay, on to the tutorial!

Note: The commands I’ll be listing will be for Photoshop CS, BUT! GIMP is equally capable of the same commands. You might have to enter different commands though. I have both, but I just prefer Photoshop. Later on, I might add GIMP commands too just to make it easy for everyone. But if you poke around GIMP, I’m sure you’ll be able to find them. :)

Okay, on to the tutorial for real!

I will be using this picture of a teacup I pulled from Sxc.hu. As you can see, the picture already has good lighting to begin with. Always take your pictures under good lighting. This will reduce your need to edit and keep it from looking fake. Photo editing is not a replacement for good lighting. It just enhances it. Please always refer to the original picture for before/after purposes. :)

SHARPENING
When you upload a picture on Chictopia, you may notice that your picture will look a little blurry. This is because your picture is automatically resized to fit the page. If your original picture is huge, when it’s resized, a lot of the detail will be lost. One way to fix this is to resize it beforehand on Photoshop (Image > Image size). But you can also sharpen your picture to enhance the details!

There are two options I recommend for sharpening your picture, Sharpen (Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen) and Unsharp Mask (Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask).

Sharpen is pretty much an easy one-click option. Here’s what the picture looks like using Sharpen. Can you see the difference? :) (Edit: From here, please use this picture as reference for before/after. Forgot to take off the sharpen, oops)

Unsharp Mask is more advanced. When you click the command, you’ll end up with options on how much you want to sharpen the image. This command gives you more control, but be careful of overdoing it! Every picture is different, so set the options according to your preference. Here’s the picture on Unsharp Mask. If you compare it to the Sharpen picture, the outlines are much more distinct.

Now which one is better? That’s completely up to you! Personally, I like to mix both. :P I unsharp mask the original picture, resize it, then sharpen it again. For me, this keeps the details without looking fake.

LEVELS AND CURVES
Even under good lighting, some cameras still aren’t good at keeping pictures bright. They’re either too washed out or too dark. This is where Levels (Image > Adjustments > Levels…) and Curves (Image > Adjustments > Curves…) come in!

For simplicity’s sake, let’s just say there’s really no difference between Levels and Curves. Curves is useful though if you wanna mess with different channels (we’ll save that for another tutorial :P). So just pick whichever one you’re comfortable with.

Here is the picture on Auto Levels. As you can see, some of the yellow casting has been removed. Auto levels is useful on many occasions. BUT! Sometimes, it can really screw up your pictures. Use it with caution. But there is also manual levels where you input your own values on the dialog box (I’ll try to post a tutorial on this too sometime). Anyway, here’s the picture on manual Levels. The colors look deeper too. Levels is pretty good at enhancing colors as well. :)

Here’s the picture on Curves. I might have gotten carried away with the curves. LOL! To be honest, I’m much more familiar with Levels, but Curves is also a useful tool. If you learn how to use it properly (unlike me), it’ll produce great results too!

LAYERS
Layering is arguably the easiest way to enhance your picture. Simply duplicate your picture onto a new layer (Layer > Duplicate Layer…), change the blending mode (this can be done on the Layers window [Window > Layers, then click the dropdown box that says “Normal”]), and viola! For basic photo editing, I’ll say that there are four layers you needs to know: Screen, Multiply, Soft Light, Overlay

Screen generally makes your picture brighter. But be careful! It might make your picture too bright. In that case, you can always change the Opacity on the Layers window to achieve the right results. Here, I have the picture in different screen opacities:

25%
50%
100%

Multiply darkens your picture. Like Screen, it might darken your picture a bit too much. Again, opacity is your friend.

25%
50%
100%

Soft Light enhances the colors of your picture. Here, I just have one example because it’s a pretty mild enhancer, but you can always change the opacity if it’s too much for you.

100%

Overlay also enhances the colors of your pictures, but it’s much bolder and harsher than Soft Light. At the right opacity, however, it’s a good option. I recommend always using Overlay on a low opacity.

25%
50%
100%

You should mix any of these layers together to produce the best result. :)

ALL TOGETHER NOW!

Here is the picture sharpened, leveled, and layered. Looks good, right? :D

Now that you know the basics, all you have to do now is practice! Figure out which combination works the best for you, and from there, photo editing will be easy as pie. Good luck!

Final note: Just realized I’m missing a couple of sections, like Color Balance and Brightness/Contrast. I’ll edit this post to add them when I have time again. :D I might also add more tutorials for GIMP. I hope you all like this! _

posted over 5 years ago
raiscake
Style_council
raiscake
posts: 108

Aww, don’t worry about megapixels! That just indicates what the maximum size a camera can take a picture is (poster sized, wall size, etc) but for website pics, 3.1 megapixels is totally fine.

If you’re able to adjust your camera settings manually (color balance, exposure, etc), that’s great! You should experiment with that too. It’ll also make a huge difference. :D

posted about 5 years ago
 
coldlight
Style_council
coldlight
posts: 2273

great post raiscake! i think this would be really useful for members just starting out or even people whove been on the site for a bit like me :) unfortunately i don’t have photoshop on my laptop atm, (i keep forgetting to ask my brother to install it for me) but if i did i’d totally be photoshopping it up. right now i just use windows photo editor or whatever its called, its not that great but its good if i need to touch my pics up a bit. i try and take them outside so i dont need to edit them much :)

posted about 5 years ago
 
raiscake
Style_council
raiscake
posts: 108

You should check out GIMP. It’s free but has a lot of stuff Photoshop has. :D http://gimp.org

posted about 5 years ago
 
diningonstyle
Style_council
diningonstyle
posts: 50

Or use Lightroom! :D

posted over 2 years ago
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