Web Programming and Design: Images and Thumbnails

Let’s start with an example so you see where we’re going to with this article. Consider a listings type site; in this case, let’s think of a real estate website which lists properties. Each property has a picture. You have a page where you list all properties in a given neighborhood, about 20 properties per page. For each property, you display a smaller version of its picture (this is called a thumbnail), and a brief description of the property, so site visitors can click on the property they like to learn more about it. The problem is: this page takes really long to display in the browser.

There is a high probability that this problem is related to the images. You need to analyze how your site generates the thumbnails. In many scripts, the thumbnails are just the original pictures, but displayed in smaller width and height. If this is the case, then each picture takes too long to load. You should change this approach and generate real thumbnails of each picture. You also need to change your script to work with the images thumbnails, and not just the original big images.

There are different ways to generate the thumbnails:

1) Using a graphics program. You load the original image, and resize it to the thumbnail size. Then you save it with a different file name. For this approach to work, your script must let you upload the big image for each property, and also the thumbnail.

2) Your script can generate the thumbnails automatically when pictures are loaded, and save them on the server. You only need to upload the big picture. If your script is written in Php, for example, this can be accomplished by using Php image functions, which make use of the gd graphics library. These functions let you generate thumbnails in different image formats like gif, jpg and png.

3) Your script can generate the thumbnails on the fly and serve them directly to the browser. This will save storage space in the server, but requires a lot of server processing time. It is not recommended if you have many images, or if your site has many daily visits.

The important aspect to remember here is that you should not resize original images to show them as thumbnails, especially if you’re showing several of these images on the same page. It will not only slow the page load in the browser, but it will also use a lot of extra bandwidth you can save.

How to Soft Proof an Image With Adobe Photoshop

Today I will show you how to soft proof your images using Adobe Photoshop. Why is soft proofing important? Simply put, soft proofing your images before having them printed is a great way to simulate how they will appear based on the specific printer and paper combination. In the long run it will save you both time and money.

This tutorial is designed to give you a crash course in the process of soft proofing, but remember, soft proofing is done using a computer monitor which has a much wider color gamut than do printers. Soft proofing can never guarantee your print will be exactly like the image your looking at on screen, but it can help you come as close to it as possible.

But before getting started, it is important that you do two things:

The first is to make sure your monitor is calibrated. Once you initially calibrate, be prepared to re–calibrate at least once a month. My experience with The Spyder Series by Datacolor has been excellent, but there are plenty of others to choose from. Just remember, in order to achieve proper calibration, an application like adobe gamma is not good enough. You need a tool that will allow you to measure things like ambient light in addition to monitor color settings.

The second thing you need is to obtain the correct ICC profile. Every device that captures or displays color has its own profile. And the different papers, pigments, and inks which are used by many printers make it difficult, to determine how exactly your print will look unless you have a preset that allows you to simulate these things. Finding the correct profile is as easy as contacting your print maker. You should be able to download the profile you need directly from their website.

OK now that your monitor is calibrated, and you have the profile you are intending on using, you can finally start soft proofing.

At first glance, my image looks great. The colors are vibrant, nothing looks off. Because I am so happy with the image as it is, I am going to skip adjusting at this point and just duplicate it. But first I am going to bring its size in the preview up to 100%. I will explain why this is important a little later. Now that I have duplicated the image I have one for both the soft proof and one to to refer to in case I need to adjust my soft proofed image once I have added my icc profile. You will see exactly what I mean in a few minutes.

Duplicate your image.

Give it a name so that it’s easy to decipher from the original. This duplicate image is the one we will be working on. But I want to show you something before we apply our ICC profile. Remember when I told you that our monitors are able to use a wider gamut to display colors than printers do? From View, go to Gamut Warning, and notice how much of our image is lost.

Now before you go through all your images turning on the gamut warning, it’s important for you to understand that a gamut warning serves as an extremely lenient warning. In English, that basically means to take the gamut warning with a grain of salt. That’s not to say the gamut warning is a useless tool. It actually serves it’s purpose quite well. What it’s telling us is that the missing colors may be difficult for a printer to simulate exactly. You can expect these areas will appear similar in color once printed, but an exact match won’t be guaranteed. So the deep reds we see here, and the midnight blue background are likely going to be a bit off.

Just remember, once we’ve soft proofed our image, we wont be able to turn this warning back on since it will be profiled specifically to the printer’s color gamut.

Apply the profile.

Hopefully the above illustration gave you a better understanding of how important soft proofing really is. So let’s go back up to View and then to Proof Setup. This is where we apply the ICC profile.

Because I obtained one this from the print maker it is considered a custom set up. Select Custom at the top and a new window will open up. From this window I will select the ICC profile. But this window serves two purposes. This is also where I will be simulating how my print will look based on the profile I have chosen.

Devise to Simulate is how Photoshop asks for your preferred ICC profile. I am going to click the drop arrow, and select my preferred profile from the list, and then I am going to leave Preserve RGB Numbers unchecked and move right down to Rendering Intent. Perceptual is what I recommend using, but if you prefer relative colorimetric, feel free to use that instead.

I also recommend checking Black Point Compensation. If you have not got a full understanding of black points, think of it as this: The black in your image may have a brown tone to it, whereas the printer gives black a bluish tone. Black point compensation will find a happy medium for both your image and the printer it is being printed with.

There is one last thing we need to do before clicking OK. We need to choose our On Screen Display Options. Let me warn you ahead of time, this is a hard step to get through. This is also the reason I suggested bringing the image up to 100%. When we click this box, our image will instantly be transformed. Colors will appear washed out and dingy. Believe it or not, 75% of that is optical illusion. Our eyes have grown accustomed to seeing white a certain way for so long that seeing it any other way just seems wrong.

This is interesting also. As I check Simulate Paper Color, Simulate Black Ink selects itself by default. These two go hand in hand when simulating paper color. Keep in mind that this step does nothing to change my image, it simply simulates how it will appear on paper. And depending on the ICC profile assigned to different paper types, simulating paper color may not always have the same effect. The best advice I can give about On screen display options is the same advice I gave you about gamut warnings. Take it with a grain of salt. Now, I’m going to click OK so that I can compare my two images, and see if I need to make any adjustments. Some people actually prefer to leave this off, and if you are one who tends to overcompensate when applying adjustments to images, you may want to leave it unchecked as well.

Make your final adjustments

Comparing these two images, I definitely want to make some adjustments. Of course I can not instruct you on this last step, since every image is different. But if you really liked the look of the original, just try to bring your soft proofed image as close to your original image as necessary to achieve the look you want.

Note:Please keep in mind that soft proofed images should NEVER be saved with the ICC profile embedded. Make sure to save soft proofed images in sRGB mode.

Technical Writing – What Constitutes “Doctoring” an Image in a Technical Document?

First of all, as a technical writer, make sure that you have the legal right to use an image in your technical document before doing anything with it. Period.

Then (assuming that you have the legal right to use the image in question) if you modify it, the new image is sometimes referred to as the “derivative” work or image.

An example: let’s say you buy a stock image of a kid eating a cone of ice cream on a background of a “school.” If you change the background in an image editor from a “school” to (let’s say) a beach or a movie theater, that would be considered changing the image. Then you would have a “derivative” image in your hands.

If such changes are done lawfully, as allowed in the copyright that accompanies the image, then it is not “doctoring.”

“Doctoring” an image is changing it “significantly”  without the original creator’s or vendor’s consent. It is against the law since it violates the image’s copyright conditions to which you’ve agreed.

However, minor color or brightness adjustments, or cropping an image or placing a border around it may not constitute “doctoring” since they may not be enough to change the original image “significantly.” That’s a gray area open to interpretation. When in doubt, only a licensed lawyer can decide if a change is “significant” or not.

It all depends on the copyright conditions of the image you buy or download and the kind of difference the modification makes in the original image.

Sometimes the copyright will allow you to change the image and make a new art work out of it and sometimes it won’t. It all depends on the conditions of the copyright contract you’re agreeing to.

If for example the image is in “public domain” then you can do anything you want with it except using it in an immoral or libelous manner.

(NOTE: This article is written for information purposes only and reflects my personal opinions based on my 20 years of experience as a writer and publisher. I’m not an attorney and am not pretending to be one. You should always consult a professional lawyer before arriving at any legal conclusions or making any business decisions.)

Resize Your Picture and Get Advantages in Keeping Original Quality

Website designers always want to work on the best image for their assigned work and at the same time need to preserve graphics online. They may be working on various screenshots, drawings, logos or banner advertising. They work continuously to resize graphics and photographs creatively so that their image is best to view on websites under various resolutions and colour depths. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to resize correctly the large pictures to fit on their websites correctly.

Web-site designers are professional in photo editing techniques and fundamentals of graphics. Still they are advised to make use of online image resizer for the perfect and satisfying work of resizing pictures in less time. Whether it is the task of screenshots, drawings, logos, banner advertising, photographs and digital pictures, especially if you are working on a large collection, it may be tiring and frustrating job with the help of photo editing software. Nowadays, online image resize tools are used more often to resize quickly the pictures of various sizes as an easy solution. You can save lots of time and you need to finish your assignments in time. You can resize the number of pictures at the same time without any extra cost. What is fun, your system is available to your other team members elsewhere for other jobs. Online image resizing tools allows you to resize and enhance picture quality.

You have a beautiful and gorgeous big photo. Your creative soul likes it. But your available space can accommodate only much smaller photo. You work hard and you are able to resize to the exact size, but you notice that your worked out image has started giving a blurry look. It is but natural to get frustrated for anybody.

If you are working with Photoshop CS and CS2, They are full of powerful new features. When you are on the task of reducing an image, go to the Image> Image Size menu.
You should select the exact size you want and click on the same. You can select and click on the bicubic sharper from the drop-down menu. This is the sure shot solution to see that an image doesn’t blur.

If you are working with the earlier version of photo shops, now being gifted with a troubleshooting advise of not to resize a GIF image. Firstly change the mode to RGB Colour (Image> Mode> RGB Colour), and then start on your task of resizing. You should start resizing task when you are in GIF mode. You can save your resized image as a GIF.

Big size graphics banners and logos are mostly available in JPG format for maintaining a high picture quality. But problem with JPG files is that they consume your additional time to strain on a web page than a GIF file. You can always convert your pictures to GIF before resizing from JPG format. GIF files are easy to handle and you can turn them into smaller file size and what is more, you get a greater picture quality and faster load time.

Secondly it is always advised to save original image and work and experiment on a duplicate image. So when you work and work repeatedly to work out a perfect size, you may be successful to get the perfect size but you shall be disappointed to see the worked out image with a lots of blur. Now you have an option to go back to your original image.