Image Editing Tips
Images are normally created by taking a photograph using a digital camera. Another useful tool for generating item images is a flatbed scanner. Although not suitable for all items, a scanner is a great tool for capturing images of a variety of small and somewhat flat items. Showing the details of fabrics, knitted and crocheted textures, jewelry, book covers, and greeting cards are just a few examples. Depending on the size and shape of an item, a scanner can provide the perfect tool to help you create images that will sell your treasure.
Regardless of the source of your images, once you have transferred the images to the appropriate location on your computer you will need to do some editing. Your camera and possibly your scanner, will automatically give your images file names which usually don’t make much sense. The first step I take in the photo editing process is to save each useable image with a descriptive name. I use the Save As command so that I retain the integrity of the original image while I edit a renamed copy. More than once I’ve saved changes to my edited image that I wished I hadn’t saved. Because I still had the original, I was able to start over with an unedited copy. I don’t rename my originals but I do store them in a folder named “Originals.” I save the edited versions in a folder named “Finals.” I even take my image file management a step further and move my final images to a folder named “Uploaded” after I have listed the item and uploaded the images to Zibbet.
The next step in the image editing process for me is cropping. Cropping refers to the removal of the outer parts of an image to improve framing. Framing makes the item you are selling the focal point of the image. Because thumbnail images are square, I highly recommend that you crop your main image into a square shape. That way, when your item appears on Zibbet’s front page or in a search results list, the entire image is seen. If the main image is a rectangle, only the middle portion of the image is displayed. I recently saw an item on the front page that was obviously a necklace with a pendant. However, I couldn’t see the pendant because the main image was a vertical rectangle and the pendant didn’t show in the square thumbnail. I was not curious enough to click the image to go to the listing. I probably missed an absolutely stunning piece of jewelry because the image didn’t show enough to entice me to click for a closer look.
Once the image is cropped to my liking, the next step I take is resizing the image. I normally set the resolution at 150 pixels per inch and then resize the cropped image to 750 pixels x 750 pixels if the image is square. If the image is rectangular, I set the longer dimension at 750 pixels making sure that the original proportions are retained. My software automatically calculates the length of the shorter side of the rectangle. I’ve found that this size works well when the image is opened from the listing page for an enlarged view.
I try to avoid doing much additional editing to my item images. I occasionally will use a scratch removal tool to take out little specks of dust that I couldn’t see prior to snapping the photo. I have also played around with brightness and contrast settings. I caution you to be careful making these types of changes to your images because they could create a false impression about the item’s color. I increased the contrast setting for the photo on the right below. Notice that the blue is more instense compared to the photo on the left. The blue in the photo on the left is much closer the the actual color of the item.
A watermark can be added to images. A watermark is a visible overlay image that identifies the owner and discourages unauthorized use of the image. If you create and sell images, especially photographs, you will definitely want to add a watermark to your work for display. Although a watermark can be positioned anywhere, it is best to avoid placing it directly over the main portion of the image. A buyer may be distracted and not stay long enough to consider purchasing your item. Please understand that an online image is never 100% protected. Individuals with advanced graphics skills and tools can remove watermarks.
I try to avoid making absolute statements about dos and don’ts. However, for item images I have to make an exception. Do not include an image in which the item you are selling is out of focus. Digital cameras allow you to quickly and cost effectively retake photographs until you have enough clearly focused images to select from. A blurred image will not help you sell your item. In fact, a single out of focus image could cost you a sale!
You don’t need expensive software to edit your photos. Digital cameras and scanners come with programs that provide basic editing tools. There are also several websites that offer free online photo editing programs. Picnik allows you to easily perform most of the editing functions described here, including the addition of watermarks. The most important thing is to find a tool that meets your photo editing needs and that you are comfortable using. I invite you to share your photo editing tips so that we can learn from each other!
Best wishes for much success on Zibbet!
Film canister photograph by Mpix