In my post on free design tools I mentioned a nifty little program called Paint.Net, and today I’m sharing a few, specific tricks for those ready to create their own header images. Want to fix a blurred image? Magically erase an unexpected photo-bomber? Turn a fairly ordinary image into a professional header? No worries!

From my holidays in Ireland. All images are copyrighted to me,so if you want to use them, let me know. :)

From my holidays in Ireland. All images are copyrighted to me,
so if you want to use them, let me know. 🙂

Hmmm... a possible sequel to my current blog? P.S. To give the header anostalgic feel I went Color - More - and increased the transparency to around 30%

Hmmm… a possible sequel to my current blog? P.S. To give the header a
nostalgic feel I went Color – More – and increased the transparency to around 30%

 You can do all this, and more, and it’s surprisingly easy. Click here to download the program (by the way I know this sounds like an ad but I genuinely think this is an excellent tool for those sick of using Microsoft paint), and prepare to unleash your artistic awesomeness.

 Got it? Great! Enjoy…

Tool boxFirstly make a copy of your image (just in case), then right click and select open with Paint.Net. Once you’re in, start with cropping your image by going Window – Tools – Rectangle Select tool (bubble 1) to draw a selection, keeping an eye on the picture dimensions at the bottom of the screen. If you need to move or adjust the size, use the Move Selection tool (bubble 2) to reposition the box, and drag the corners around to get the perfect size. Then in the top menu, visit Image – Crop to Selection.

  • A little math refresher: to keep your picture the same ratio as your blog’s theme allows, simply divide your theme’s specified width by height eg. X / Y = Z. Then, divide the width of your picture (or of your selection aread) by Z, and you’ll have your required height.

And now, on to some common photo problems…

Problem: My image just doesn’t have the crispness I need.

Solution: Effects – Photo – Sharpen. If you go too far or if only part of your image needs sharpening, this tool can make the whole picture look grainy and unpleasant, but there’s a solution for that, too…

  • When using Paint effects, if you select an area of the picture first, the effects will only work on that. The lasso tool is great for selecting simple shapes. For more complex shapes, use the magic wand and click on the predominant color of the shape you want to select. If the chosen object contains a lot of colors, hold ctrl while you click all the different colors in the shape. If it goes crazy and selects similar areas of color all through your image, turn your tolerance down (it’s in the top menu bar when you’ve got the magic wand tool selected).
The Magic Wand Tool

The Magic Wand Tool

The Lasso Tool

The Lasso Tool

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

Problem: I don’t want crispness. I write fantasy – my pictures have to be dreamy!

Solution: Effects – Photo – Soften portrait. I’ve used it on my blog header and the example header above, and I love the historical feel it gives the image. It can dull the colors though, so I went Adjustments – Hue/Saturation – set my saturation to 110.

Problem: I write gothic horror. My image needs to be black and white.

Solution: Adjustments – Black and White. But before you go saying that’s too easy, don’t forget that the best images have lots of contrast, and making something black and white can dramatically reduce it’s pop. So head to Adjustments – Brightness/contrast to jazz it up. 

Castle

After making this black and white I went Adjustments - Brightness/contrast - changed brightness to -10 and contrast to 40.

After making this black and white I went Adjustments –
Brightness/contrast – changed brightness to -10 and contrast to 40.

Problem: I write historical. I need my picture to look really old fashioned.

Solution: Adjustments – Sepia, then Effects – Noise – Add Noise (but not too much!), as in the final example.

Problem: I’ve photographed the most beautiful scene ever imaginable, but I’ve accidentally included the top of someone’s head!

 Solution: Tools – Clone Stamp. Hold ctrl and click right next to the offending object to select an area you want to stamp, then bring your mouse ever so slightly back to the offending object and click. Ta da!

  • A Few Tips: Use a small brush size so your cloning isn’t too obvious, and remember to change your anchor point often so you don’t start developing a pattern. If you’re working with something unified, like the steps in this pic, grab little stamps from different areas, using brushes of different sizes, to create a more random feel and disguise the edges of your stamps.
A scene from my holidays in Paris.Can you spot what's missing, withoutlooking at my step-by-step replay?

A scene from my holidays in Paris.Can you spot what’s missing, without looking at my step-by-step replay?

Paris Magician

In this final example I:

Cropped the image
Used Adjustments – Sepia to create the brown wash.
Used Adjustments – Brightness/Contrast to reduce the brightness and increase the contrast.
Used the lasso tool to select the pigeon and darken/contrast it further.
Used Effects – Noise – Add noise to give the image a grainy look, (but significantly reduced the intensity and color saturation so it wasn’t too obvious).
Used the clone tool to remove the tips of the juggling tools and the busker’s hat. (Did you spot it?)



Of course there are loads more tools available to you – like red eye removal, the ability to make a picture look like an oil painting, a de-focus tool, motion blur, color inversion, glow effect and on and on and on until I run out of breath, but I thought I’d start with some obvious ones. Hope this helps!

Advertisements