Category: Photoshop

Apr 27 2009

Vectors, nettuts and jQuery while convalescing

I’ve been quiet lately because I’ve been recovering from major hip surgery in February. But I haven’t been idle.

I’ve updated the Gothla website for our third workshop and hafla weekend in mid-July 2009. This year, we’re featuring Ariellah, Morgana, Shakra, Asharah and Deva Matisa, internationally recognised exponents of gothic bellydancing.

PayPal has been expanding its merchant services. This year, I shall be able to download booking information directly and print out attendee lists for each of the workshops. Extra levels of security hopefully protect our account from fraud and unwanted chargebacks when someone wrongfully claims back money paid through their account.

I’m getting products ready for the Gothla shop, which is hosted by Spreadshirt, based in Germany. Spreadshirt works best with vector images, that is, drawings. We like to change the colour of our Gothla logo for our t-shirts each year and we would like to be able to sell a generic t-shirt based on the photo in our banner.

I experimented with a couple of programs that can transform photos (raster objects) to vector images.

I was particularly pleased with the results from VectorMagic, although it’s not cheap to download the software, which gives you more control than the free online conversion service. The Gothla logo converted without a hitch. I wasn’t able to reduce the complexity of the photo to a vector image equivalent which Spreadshirt could have used. But I suspect that I needed more knowledge of technique, such as reducing the photo to a layer mask in Photoshop before beginning to make the vector image in Illustrator.

The face of Gothla UK, a raster image

The face of Gothla UK, a raster image

Vectorised version of the face of Gothla UK

Vectorised version of the face of Gothla UK

Essentially, there were too many small elements in my vector version. The t-shirt process requires smooth, definite lines. Ironically, I could have got the photo printed on a light coloured t-shirt, but since the event is Goth, we require black backgrounds.

I did begin to learn something of how vector software works. I hadn’t used Adobe Illustrator before and was delighted to discover its many uses, like making unwanted backgrounds disappear. I think I’ll have another go using Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator using ideas from t-shirt factory.

I’ve also had time and opportunity to read more. I’m currently learning jQuery, a Javascript library resource which enables coders to attach behaviours to element attributes in the same sort of way as CSS. The benefits of using techniques such as jQuery are their minimalist approach and friendly approach to web accessibility. Web surfers relying on screen readers should be able to read web pages without having to wade through screeds of Javascript code.

I’ve discovered Nettuts, a website featuring a host of web development tutorials which deserves very close scrutiny. Want to know about Ajax, or CSS, or PHP, or building content management systems? Make this website one of your resources.

And I’ve been twittering a lot. I find twitter extremely useful for picking up information and exchanging ideas. The growth in social networking has inspired me to devote a whole new page on my website to FriendFeed. This is where you’ll be able to find out what I’ve been saying on twitter and facebook, and what I’ve been bookmarking on deli.cious and stumbleupon as I’ve been surfing the web.

Dec 29 2008

Creating panorama shots in Photoshop CS3

Petra Tou Roumio, Cyprus, birthplace of Aphrodite

Petra Tou Roumio, Cyprus, birthplace of Aphrodite

When I can’t decide on a creative issue on a website, or if I have to write something, I procrastinate. Don’t you? This morning, my procrastination led me to review the photos I’d taken while on holiday in Paphos, Cyprus, in April last year. I rather fancied the idea of entering the Creative Challenge at Webshots Blog and thought there might be something suitable in the Paphos folder, but there isn’t. I had a very handy, small Nikon camera with me on holiday, but the light was very bright in Cyprus and the camera tended to over-expose.

However, I thought I’d try making a panoramic shot of Petra tou Roumio Bay in Photoshop CS3. The individual photos aren’t anything to shout about, but the view as a whole is breathtaking. Photoshop has enabled its users to assemble panoramic montages in several earlier versions, and has provided more scope with this facility in its latest CS3 rendition.

Open Photoshop. Go to File > Automate > Photomerge. A dialog box opens offering you five editing options, depending on how much control you want to take over the process. There’s Auto, Perspective, Cylindrical, Reposition Only and Interactive Layout. Rather than my trying to explain what each of these options do, I think you would get a more intuitive grasp by going through the process. You are able to choose the photos that you want to include, either by having them already open in Photoshop, or in a folder, or by using Control + Click on a PC (presumably Apple key + Click on a Mac) on the particular files within a folder.

Make sure that there is an identifiable feature at the edge of each photo which can be matched to the next one, and you should have taken each of the photos with the same camera settings from the same spot for the process to work most smoothly.

Click OK and Photoshop goes into action building the panorama. Depending on the amount of RAM in your computer and how big each individual photo file is, this could take seconds or minutes. I have a lot of RAM on my PC, but it still took at least 10 seconds to build my panorama of Petra tou Roumio.

The delay might have been caused by the fact that Photoshop simply couldn’t match one of the photos at one end. There wasn’t enough of the recognisable feature for the program to work on. In this case, I cropped and saved the panorama image as a psd file, then expanded the canvas, making sure to stretch it to the right, added a new layer, opened the offending photo, selected and copied it, and then pasted it into the new layer in the panorama.

It wasn’t a perfect match but the clone tool used on the top layer helped me smooth out the obvious joins. Since most of the join was sky and sea, this was fairly easy. You’d have a hard time of it with something detailed. Alternate between the underlying panorama image and the top layer to adjust your clone tool settings. Then I cropped the photo once more.

I had to resize the image and save it for the web to be sure that it wouldn’t overload bandwidth and might actually have a chance of displaying in its entirety on a web page. Click on the image above and it should open in a pop-up box.

What’s the story behind Petra tou Roumio? Cyprus has been a centre for the worship of Aphrodite and fertility and her earlier incarnations since even before Greek times. There’s a magical quality about the light at Petra tou Roumio, which lies at the southwestern point of the island. The bay is backed by white chalk cliffs. The whiteness of the chalk stretching under the sea gives the colour of the water a milky quality and also enhances the blue. The light is very bright.

The legend is that Aphrodite/Venus rose out of the sea here at the rocks, where the seed of her father Uranus fell into the ocean. For a most wonderful representation in art, see the Botticelli painting held in the Uffici Gallery in Florence, Italy.

First published 12th April

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