Window decoration – “transfer” image to transparent medium.

I promised in my last post that I would write about how I got to the image of our cat onto perspex (I don’t think that is the english word for it, but I mean the transparant plastic thing). This could be a great craft for the whole year round. A tree with christmas, easter eggs with easter, etc. No painting on you window needed, and you can place the plastic in a easy to paint position, unlike your window. And your neighbours won’t see you fool around, nor will your curtains be in danger of getting paint on it!

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Well I am going to tell you how I did it, but very short. Why? First, because I have saved over some steps which are usefull to show. I basically only have the original image and the end result left. Redoing it takes too much time – the first part was very time consuming.

Second, I have been busy with other things I got enthousiastic (carried away) about. Crocheting, making christmas cards, and tonight, salt dough and dried apple / orange / kakifruit (I wonder how that last one turns out, I added it in my enthousiasm…)

– halfway through writing the mini how I did it I found the image with in between steps saved, so I do have it! editing the how I did it now with images… –

Mini how I did it

Well, just to give you an idea of what I did, which options I used in paint.net (with several plugins/addons installed), here it is:

1. Choose an image

A high the contrast of the desired object and the background will save you lots of time. My picture didn’t have that. (Black cat and brown cupboard…hmmm).

Charlie sunbathing

Charlie sunbathing

2. Select the object

Open the image in your editing program (I used paint.net) and select the object with the magic wand, adjust the treshold so you have all of your object selected. Now copy it to a new layer.

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3. Save & save again under a new name.

If you have and object with a high contrasting background you’re almost ready to start with the fun part. I wasn’t. I painstakingly selected areas around the cat and deleted those or used the eraser. I think in every tutorial about selecting something in an image, they say that deleting things around your object is bad bad bad, don’t do that. But I don’t know better and I did, as the tutorials are mostly about photoshop which I don’t have. Once you have your object all cut out (that really takes most time and is most annoying to do, hence I didn’t want to redo it for this tutorial), save your image, then save it again under a new name. That way if you really mess it up you always have most of your work saved. Another options is to copy the image to a new layer and mess around on that. Ofcourse, make the other layers invisible so you don’t get confused. Still, this doesn’t take away the possibility of you accidentally working in the wrong layer and only realizing it after you have saved and erased your histroy.

4. Play

I forgot in which order I used which tool/adjustment, but these are the ones I used.

  • contrast/brightness
  • color balance – I wanted to use only about 3 colors, (or more: black and white + 1 color) This options together with contrast/brightness got me there. White would be non-painted areas, as I still want sunlight in my room and didn’t want to put up a dark image which would block the daylight. The sun doesn’t really shine into this room, so daylight is precious. Hence the warm colors and “white” spaces.
  • effect: oil painting – set it to a small brush if you have lots of time and patience. I didn’t/don’t, so I set it to a big brush size.
  • effect: object outline – I think this option came with a plugin pack, the one that contains the “feather” option. This is to define the shape of your object a bit more, especially if it has to be seen from further away (my cat is hanging in front of my window, and I live on 3rd floor.)

Save lots in between.

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5. Print

That sounds easy, but it isn’t. Nowadays stupid windows on my machine comes up with the photoprinting window, that means its not possible to give dimensions to which to print, or to print larger. From the windows photo viewer and from paint.net I got that dialog box. This one. Grrr.

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One of my other favourite programs doesn’t produce that annoying printdialogbox, that program is Irfanview. Read about how you can batch rename, resize, convert your images with that program in my blogpost about Irfanview. From the printdialog in Irfanview you can go to your printer settings and then properties. With my epson stylus printer, I can then go to the options of the page layout and select “poster print”, which means blow the image up across several pages. It is probably different with your printer, but I’m sure there’s a setting or option that gets you the same result.

6. Cut, tape and check

So print the image out in the size your want. Printers often can’t print on the edges, because if the paper is in slightly angled it would print besides the paper, so there’s a white border around your image, with or without cutting lines (I could select that option). Cut along the lines, tape the image together and then tape it to the back of the plastic sheet or perspex or other transparant medium. As you can see on the pictures, my first edited image was still too detailed, so I went back to the drawing boar…eh computer.  The print on the foreground is the too detailed one, the middle one is the one I used and against the wall is the result. But we’re not at the result just yet in this how-I-did-it, so pretend you didn’t see it yet.

Daqadoodles12_11_05_17507 7. Paint

I used acryllic paint, metallic ones. I don’t think it’s permanent – I wanted to use some sort of glass paint first but to set that you have to bake it.  I don’t think it’s wise to put plastic in my oven. Plus, I’d need a huuuge oven to fit that plastic in it :P. Anyway, it dries up ok and doesn’t come off when you touch it. You could scratch it off I’m sure (though that might damage the plastic) and I think you could even just wash it off. So it’s perfect! Tired of the image? Wash and redo it!

In the end I didn’t use the white paint in the bottom image I think, maybe only to lighten some of the other colors, I can’t remember.

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Comparing to the too detailed image, not bad huh?

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And now a picture of the front and the back of the perspex:

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7. Placing it

I  wanted to cut off the bottom of the perspex as it wasn’t used, and drill holes in it and hang it in front of the window. But while waiting for doing that, I just put it in front of my window allready. And guess what? It’s perfect that way! I don’t need to drill windows or cut off the bottom, it just has 40 cm of clear transparant perspex before the painting starts. It is standing straight against my window. The only downside is that my son is sliding it from left to right when we wave his dad goodbye on the days he doesn’t go to daycare. But oh well, imagine if it would be hanging, he’d be pulling at it and I’d be a lot more annoyed by that then I am by him sliding it left to right and back again!

Here you can see the shine of the copper color:

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This mini-how I did it turned out a tiny bit bigger then I thought, but hopefully now it was somehow usefull! Have fun making your own window decoration!

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Irfanview tutorial: rename, resize and add overlay text to your images

How-to… set up irfanview

In my previous post I mentioned what you can do to tag your images. Here is the how-to with irfanview.

Irfanview is a very nice free program for some image editing and for batch conversions. Select multiple files with different extensions (different image filetypes) and convert them all to the same filetype with the same settings in a few clicks! Ok the first time it will not be a few clicks, it might take you 15 – 30 minutes, depending on how thourough you read your windows. It may take even more if you’re like me, testing the font, colour,position, size and text untill your satisfied. Then it could take you a whole evening, searching for the right font, installing that, or even ending up trying to make your own font… (then it would most likely turn into weeks before you’re set up).

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Getting aquainted

We’ll start with a photo. (Or skip this for now and open only irfanview instead, go to Settings below.) The filesize of photo’s is usually quite big, which you don’t need or want when publicizing the image (unless ofcourse you are a photographer, but I think photographers don’t need additional explanation about this).
So here is my folder with the photo: (tip: to make a printscreen of just the active window instead of your entire desktop, hold down SHIFT and then hit print screen on your keyboard.)

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Open your image with irfanview.

  1. I haven’t installed irfanview as my default viewer. If you do have it as default viewer, opening your image is enough. Go to step 5.
  2. If you don’t, right click an image in the folder and select “open with…”Choose irfanview from the options
  3. If it isn’t in the list, click “Select default program”. Uncheck “always use this program” (of leave it checked if you do want to use it always).
  4. Browse to the folder where it is located, select irfanview and click ok. (Next time it will be added to the list.)

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Don’t forget these functionalities!

Now checkout the Edit and Image menu’s: you can resize, rotate, fine rotate (which is very nice if you have scanned your card and it was not laying straight). I’m not going into detail about these options (as I hardly use them, I use Paint.net which is kind of similar to adobe photoshop.) The batch options are in the File menu though.

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Overview of the Batch Conversion window (“Set for all images”)

Here is a description of the Batch Conversion window. I forgot to number it, but if you want to rename your files as well as convert them, select the option like I did in the window. Renaming can be usefull – when someone downloads your image it will offer this name for them to save it too. More chances that people will just click “ok” and your name is still attached to the image.

  1. Select what you want to be the output format.
  2. This option window applies to the chosen output format. To be honest, I don’t know what all options do, but sometimes I reduce the quality to get smaller files. Smaller files = faster loading webpages.
  3. Advanced options – This is the window where you can set the rename, resize and overlay text options. More on that later.
  4. Enter your desired naming pattern. This is the name the result file will receive, not the overlay text. I chose the name of my blog, the year, month date, hour and minute the picture was taken, followed by a number in case I took several pictures in one minute.
  5. Choose your ouput directory
  6. Add images one by one, or add all. I usually add all (I had some cases where it didn’t work to add just 1 image, so I always use add all. After converting the files I move the originals to another folder so I know I have converted these and I won’t convert them again.
  7. Start batch.

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The advanced options window

  1. The resize options. I chose a percentage, but maybe I should chance to set new size. You can specify that one of the sides should be set to a certain width, the other side adjusts proportionally. (At least I think it does that)
  2. Some other options which looked usefull to have selected. Ofcourse you want to preserve aspect ratio, want a good quality and don’t want ugly blown up images.
  3. ADD OVERLAY TEXT! Finally, the option! And I will explain in a sec, just one more other thing first.
  4. Apply changes to all pages. Tiff files are files that are made of several layers. Ofcourse you want all layers to be changed the same way. I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t want this option off. Also check the other miscellaneous options, you might want some of these.

And again a bulletpoint I forgot: when using different settings (for different blogs), you can save your settings. If you keep them always the same then you don’t need to save them, but hey, saving is safe, so go ahead and do save them!

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The overlay text window

  1. Here you specify the size of the box in which your text can be shown. Don’t make it bigger then your images are going to be, because your text might fall off.
  2. Append copyright inserts the copyright symbol, very usefull to add. You can also add a different overlay text for each file, see the Help button.
  3. Text is transparent. Please use this, it’s usually very ugly when it isn’t. This doesn’t actually mean the text is transparent, it means the backgroundcolour of the text is transparant.
  4. Choose your Font. I downloaded a font which is free for personal use. If you do downlaod a font, check if it’s coyrighted and ok to be used. If you are going to use it commercially related, contact the author. You’d want that too! The text colour: This is a difficult one – a black text on a dark image is impossible to read. So whit text? But what if the background is light? You could choose a fluorescent colour ofcourse, shows up on almost anything. But… it’s ugly! Don’t do it, it distracts viewers from your image. Choose a calm colour, one that is not too obvious. I chose grey, it might not be completely readable on all images but to those who are interested it is probably readable enough. Also, don’t overdo the size of the text. If you want to showcase your products, don’t put huge text over it. As you can see, I forgot to leave space in my screenshots for the text. See how messy it looks? You can do better, as you’ve been warned now!

Now press OK. You are back at the “Set for all images:”window, press ok again and you are back at the “Batch conversion”window.

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Convert and rename your files

Open irfanview, go to file>batch conversion, select the images you want to convert/rename, and click “start batch”. That’s it!

Do you prefer different settings? Am I forgetting something important? Did you find this usefull? I’d love to hear from you!