Making Sure Your Images Are Ready For The Web

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Visual design is an integral part of any project today. Especially on the web, you have to make your images are consistent and up to snuff. Making sure that your images look good is just part of the problem, you also have to make sure that the image can properly fit in the context it showed. You may even want to isolate an image from its background or to edit some parts of it, something like Deep Etching.

These may seem like trivial stuff to you, but it’s important to know that presentation, especially in the visually-charged environment of the web is everything. Take for example you are starting up a shop and want to show your products, sure enough, you can hire high-end photographers to take pictures of your photographs in a consistent manner under a consistent background. This process is sometimes called image masking. This falls apart when you realize how much these services costs and know that you must continuously hire these professionals for every new batch of products you wish to push on your site. How about when you want to change the visual design of your site and suddenly the images of the products don’t match as they are presented on your site. You would have to conduct color correction to all of your images. This seemingly small thing is enough to change the mind of a prospective buyer to leave your site.

How about you don’t hire a photographer and choose to take the photos yourself. Can you be sure that
your results are consistent and clean? How can you be certain that you won’t need to do photo restoration or some image manipulation later on when you finally upload your photos to your website. Ultimately there can be a lot of things that can go wrong with this set-up and this is not the thing you should be doing when you are starting you your business.

How about if you don’t even have images made to order, or you rely on stock-photos on the web to supplant your website. Have you noticed how these images feel like they look different from one another, they have different tones and moods and maybe different lightnings. It is a pain to find a set of images that work together seamlessly and more often than not you just have to choose a disparate set of
images because you have no other option to choose from.

While you can do these on your own, the hassle involved and the amount of learning required to even do
a passable job is just too much and can definitely distract you for what you should really be focusing on. Instead of doubling down on your marketing and your products you are now stuck on the little things that you should really offload to other services. For example, think about adding drop shadows to images, first you have to remove the background then choose the best way to add the shadows.

It would even be worse if you try to do it yourself and try to pass off your efforts as professional work. The images that would just need a couple of simple touch-ups here and there by professionals are now made unusable and utterly worthless by your efforts to do everything on your own. Though it may seem simple by looking at how professionals do it, know that they took the time to learn their craft and their mastery is the reason that they make it look so simple. A common project given to these professionals would be to process the neck joint in an image of a dress or a coat.

The difficulty of doing manual edits are enough deterrent alone, if, however, you take into consideration the amount of material you need to work with yourself and you will realize the immense task you set yourself to do. The sheer number of images you need to manually edit and touch up will consume a lot of your time and will render you useless while doing something that is but a portion of your business.

You may ask, however, what do these services offer and how it can improve your online business. You
may be content with thinking your current practices and decisions on handling images is enough as it is. You may just use the images as it is. Have you noticed how they clashed with another and there is no visual consistency across your page? Maybe you need to do some color correction on your images. Your
site looks unprofessional and a mixed-bag. Have you ever wanted to look like those professional websites by those big companies that have an inventory of products that just seem to mesh well together? They are even flexible enough that when the website does either a temporary or permanent design overhaul the media just seems to work. Try it on your site and see if it works the same way as this website does.

Most probably that is what separates your online store from these big sites. You both sell high-quality products but in the end, your efforts just look childish. You probably want to step up your game and these online services are just the thing you need.

Clipping path photo manipulation and others are now being offered as online services which you can immediately avail of to offload you of the work needed to update the visual look of your site to compete. Works like making raster to vector. Before all those people usually have to hire a full-time designer who is well-versed in this software and these process, the designer works in the company to make sure that their products are presented in the best way possible. This mode is the way to expensive for a small business starting out. This idea is not cost-effecting and there has got to be a much better way to solve this problem.

This is when these services come in. They offer to work in your media at a very competitive price and they are designed to work with a lot of media. The work is distributed to multiple designers and offloaded to a professional company that does it for you. The caveat is that you pay only when you want work done and the prices are so low it is a steal. However don’t think that since these services are offered
to in a simple manner that the end results aren’t something of high quality, the end results are always high quality.

The services if you are now ready to work on improving your images and improving you E-commerce then read on. The following will be the services that are offered to you on these sites and what you can gain from using them. After I describe these services I will also show ways you can do it yourself so that you can try for yourself on how to do these techniques and think for yourself should you want to hire these services but I encourage you to do so since it would be so much easier.

However, I am assuming that you are using Adobe products like Photoshop. InDesign and Illustrator. These are the premier products used in the industry today and it would be better to learn them if you plan to know how these services are used. Note also that there would be a marked difference between a product made by an individual who is currently learning the ropes versus a veteran who has done these for their job.

The basic concept is deep etching or removing unneeded information in an image. Sometimes it may be
the removal of imperfections or the addition of several more details to an image. The effect is touching up images to make them more manageable to you as someone engaged in E-commerce and also make them shine and show your products in the best possible. There are a lot of techniques and tools you can use and here are some of them

Clipping Path

Clipping path is the act of removal of a background. It is sometimes called ‘deep etch’. Basically, it is a closed vector path or shape that defines an area inside a 2D image that will be separated from the rest of the image. The path can have aliased or anti-aliased edges depending on your preferences. This is used so that products are separated from the environments they were taken from. As opposed to using a magic wand tool which is most of the times destructive on the intended part of the image to be separated, clipping path cleanly cuts-out the intended parts of the image to be used.

For example, you have a shoe that you need to sell. Imagine that you made all the best effort to make sure that the image is taken so that the background is not clear or as clean as possible with a white background to match the white background of your site. Still, you will have those errant shadows, and what will happen if you choose to change the background of your site? Now the images won’t fit anymore, so you avail of these services or you would try to do it yourself.

·Select the pen tool (P) in Photoshop

·Trace the part of the image you want clipped by
click more and more points

·When you are done tracing around the image click
on the original point

·Then in the paths panel double click on the Work
A path to save it

·Right click in the path panel and then select
Clipping Path

Image Masking

For images that are much more complex and natural, the better solution would be to use image masking. It is much more viable for objects with fuzzy or soft edges, people, animals, and images showcasing nature. Things like hair, skin, and fur would be difficult to cut correctly with a clipping path, which is best suited for man-made, artificial objects with hard edges. The problem is finding the right amount of masking to remove the needed background without being too rough on the cut-out that it distorts the image. This distortion would be clearly visible as humans are accustomed to finding soft edges on hair and fur and a clean cut is that much noticeable.

Image masking solves this problem by not immediately cutting up the image but by assigning an alpha
value, or an arbitrary opacity value, to a specific pixel based on the illumination value on a defined mask. Basically, it means that it takes a layer in Photoshop and it determines how transparent a pixel of a layer by how lighter or darker a pixel in the same area in the designated mask. This mode of changing the opacity allows the image cut-out to have a range rather than a clean cut, and we can finally select the details and then slowly fade them out.

·Choose the layer you want to edit and add a mask
to it.

·Before editing the mask make your you selected
the mask of the layer, not the layer itself.

·Remember that black means fully transparent and
white means fully opaque and anything in between is a blend of transparency.

·You can then paint as if you were painting the
the opacity of the layer

Drop Shadow

After you are done with removing the image from the background you might want to add more visual pizzazz to the image. A subtle but effective way to do it would be to add a drop shadow to the cut-out image. It adds an accent to the image to ensure that it pops out. Likewise, a drop shadow on an image in a site makes it looks 3D and pops out from the web page and presents your product beautifully as opposed to a clean cut.

Generally a drop shadow works best in an image that has already been edited and cut from its background as it will then follow the contours of the image and making the shadow natural.

Raster to Vector

Changing a raster image into a vector one is a much more complex method than the one discussed before. Raster images are images like pictures like jpegs and the like while vector images are composed of lines and paths. Vector images are good because they are scalable to great sizes without losing quality however they don’t hold the same amount of information density such as a raster image can hold.

Doing this is beyond the scope of this article and is more on the line of how you interpret a particular image into simple shapes. Though your vector art can be complex, ultimately it will be colored shapes and how you compose them. A good software commonly used is Adobe Illustrator.

Neck Joint

It is the process of producing an image of a clothing that looks like it was worn by an invisible person. This is common in online fashion stores as an alternative to showing a model they promote the clothes itself. The images are actually taken with a real opaque model or mannequin and are just cut-out from the picture and an image of the inside of the shirt or dress is then put under the cut-out image. The effect created is that the shirt is worn by an invisible person.

This is nice little effect and visual design that emphasizes the product rather than the model wearing it or if you don’t want to use mannequins in your pictures and can’t afford models, then you can take a picture wearing the clothes and then have they edited.

Color Correction

This is the application of adjusting color values like hue and saturation to make sure that the image is presented under a specific tone or mood. It is known that colors encourage a mood or tone so that you have to be careful that the colors of your products presented show the mood or tone that bests support the product and your shop. Color correction is also used to ensure that the products on the site seem connected as they are under the same tone and feel much more professional. There is a lot of variables to edit when color correcting and you can even color correct specific parts or specific hues of an image.

Ultimately it is about setting the proper mood or emotion of a particular image or a group of images to align with what you want.

Photo Restoration

It is the use of editing software like Photoshop to unto damages in a photo. For example, you have an old or dilapidated photo and you want to restore it to a pristine state. This is mainly used for photos without a digital counterpart and there are a lot of techniques and tools you can use like the stamp and heal brush. Along with the tools listed above to help you in your restoration.

Conclusion

There are a lot of things you can do to improve the visual content in your website and these are just a small portion of possibilities that are open, I suggest to go these websites and check what services they offer, maybe they offer some which you haven’t heard of and realize that might help you improve your site.

Explore and then implement what you have learned.

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