Log in

15 February 2009 @ 02:11 pm
Discussion: Fixing Source Images  
Hello!  So, today is discussion day!  *G*

One of my favorite things is fixing up not-great images and getting something worth the effort.  Since source pics don't tend to just jump into our hands, I like to try to use whatever I have on hand, even when it's less than perfect.

So, what are your favorite techniques for fixing up an image that's just what you want, but lacking in quality?  Do you have a technique that works on a lot of different images?  Or do you find that you have to take each image individually?  What things make it impossible for you to work with an image (size, grainy-ness, bad coloring)?  And what are your favorite things to fix?
dawnofmedawnofme on February 15th, 2009 09:26 pm (UTC)
I work with television show screencaps, often. They almost always need to have the coloring adjusted. I will start with the auto fix and auto color adjustments, but then I will work with the skin tone adjuster or the color variations scales.

I love to make the color of the actor's eyes stand out. If they are blue or green, I will get the picture color fixed as a whole, create another layer of the cap underneath the one I'm happy with and then up the saturation until the eyes are very blue or very green. Then I work with the original layer and erase the eyes until only the eyes from the bottom layer show through.

Changing the color of a stockphoto to fit as a layer on a project is also something that I toy with often.
Lostgirllostgirlslair on February 15th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they tend to. I am forever cursing about how dark caps can be, and then you get something that's freakin' blue. ::shakes head::

I like to do the eyes, too, sometimes, especially if that's the focus of the image. I also like to sharpen them a little, to pull attention toward them.
WickedFox: indestructiblewickedfox on February 16th, 2009 05:00 am (UTC)
While I get giddy at high resolution source images, more often than not, I will use source images that strike me as interesting even if they are rather poor quality. It's difficult to avoid poor quality source images in photo manipulation.

I do have some Photoshop tools I use consistently like 'reduce noise' partnered with 'smart sharpen' to mend grainy images. I use a mix of 'curves' and 'levels' to adjust darker images and get the contrasty look I lean toward. To correct color, I use a mix of 'color balance' and 'Hue/Saturation' to try and find what mood I'm looking for. But I must admit that when I just can't seem to get the color the way I want, I do resort to desaturating so I can try to use the source image in some way, even if it doesn't turn out how I'd originally hoped it would.

Impossible to work? A mismatch in shadow is dang hard to overcome. It's often my biggest challenge, accepting that no matter how much I manip, a steamy source shot just will not work in the intended piece.

Perhaps I shouldn't admit this but I enjoy the challenge of working around watermarks and promotional text. I also enjoy the rather tedious but rewarding work it takes to recreate or extend the image in some way, for instance, lengthen the torso or complete a head that was cropped. This is one of the tricks I use all the time to bring a freshness to old or overused images.

Overall, you have to tackle each image individually since the source of each source shot can have it's own unique problems.

Man, I'm wordy tonight.
Tam: Moonlight teartamakin on February 16th, 2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Heee! Yeah i love trying to add to/remove watermarks from an image too :P Ive often spent frigging aaages getting an extra inch on some background, even thougy most folks woundnt notice at all. Tis the challenge!
Lostgirllostgirlslair on March 2nd, 2009 07:28 pm (UTC)
Exactly. I don't think it's possible to get away from poor quality photos. I try to use whatever I have and if it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Sadly, I haven't had the time (and possibly patience) for anything particularly challenging lately. I find I miss it. ::nods::

It is hard to work with mismatched shadows. I tend to try, often using a gradiated black blur to mimic shadows. Light is easier, I find, but it's still difficult to get things just right. Especially if the shadows and light on the original image are clearly defined.

Oh, I love working out watermarks, but I don't always have the patience. If I'm working with something that I don't have a deadline for, I don't mind the tedium, but deadlines make me crazy. *G*
Tam: Moving shockertamakin on February 16th, 2009 05:15 pm (UTC)
Hello! Finally chipping in here! Its so interesting reading about everyones techniques. The first thing i always do is fiddle with the levels option. Just about all jpegs can benefit from having the darks and lights enhanced, so i up those in levels. Sometimes the colour needs fixin too, and the last thing i do with an image is de-noise it, then shapen the edges, cause alot of jpegs get all pixel-y lol :P

Hope that helps people!
Lostgirllostgirlslair on March 2nd, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I think just about every image benefits from tinkering, especially with light levels. They always seem too dark or too faded or too grainy. I hate grainy. *G*
littlespank: BSG-Depressinglittlespank on February 16th, 2009 05:59 pm (UTC)
I icon a lot of Battlestar Galactica, and everything on that show is so muted and dark. OR they decide to do crazy saturation or over expose it, so sometimes that stuff is crazy hard to work with.

I always screen the base and knock around the contrast (or curves if brightness/contrast is not precise enough), and I always go back to selective coloring to fix whatever new layer I added. Until the image just looks like a brighter more colorful version of the original. It's weird. I spend all this time just making it look like it SHOULD look. heh. But instead of just doing one selective color layer, I do bunches to get the exact colors I want.

I learned here about the highpass filter thing, and that makes me pretty happy b/c it does help blurry and bad images a lot.

I've also take to recently. once I have the icon looking exactly how I want it, I flatten the image, duplicate it, set it to screen and Gaussian blur. Then I erase a little bit around the main image or whatever my focus is. I find it helps soften things up a bit if you just really can NOT get the image to look how you want it to, or if it's over sharp or pixely or something.
Lostgirllostgirlslair on March 2nd, 2009 07:31 pm (UTC)
I've heard that BSG has some really hard to work with caps. I hate it when everything's blue, and you have to try to get the color right again. Even though there are tons of techniques to do it, I tend to obsess. ::Laughs::

I love the highpass filter. ::squeezes it tight:: I really like that I can mask it, too.