In our last two blog posts, we talked about getting started on digitally imaging your paintings and explained step by step how to photograph the images that you will be later using to print your work with your D-SLR Camera. In this week’s post, we will get into how to process those images in Photoshop so they are ready to send off to the licensing company or the printer.
When you import the RAW files from your D-SLR camera into your computer, you will need to open them with either the software that came with your camera, or Photoshop. From there you can make color adjustments using brightness/contrast, levels, hue/saturation, and a number of other settings. You can experiment as well as look up tutorials online. (The #1 thing that I use is layer masks – this allows me to adjust the colors of certain aspects of a painting without changing the whole thing.)
The larger the pixel dimensions, the better. Typically you want your image to be at least 3000 pixels on the shorter side. The more pixels, the higher the resolution and the higher quality print. When you save the images for printing, you want them to be the dimensions of your painting (in inches) or larger – and always at 300 dpi or ppi (dots per inch or pixels per inch). For example, if you have an 18 x 24 painting, you would want your final image to be 18 in x 24 in at 300 dpi (5400 x 7200 pixels). If you had the same size image at 18 in x 24 in at 150 dpi, the image would only be 2700 x 3600 pixels. The more pixels the image has, the higher quality and the larger it can be printed.
If you had an 18 in x 24 in image at 300 dpi, you can usually print it safely up to 36 in x 48 in. If you want to go larger, you will definitely need a higher resolution image. So as you can see, the larger the original image is, the larger you will be able to print it. That is why you need a high Megapixel D-SLR camera and will probably need to stitch your images together anyway. To check the resolution of your image, open it in Photoshop and choose Image > Image Size from the drop-down menu.
If you have a large image that you have taken multiple images of to stitch together, Photoshop has some handy built-in software that will help do some of the work for you. You can’t rely on it completely, but will make the task easier.
To use Photoshop’s built-in software to stitch several images together, you will first need to open all of the RAW or TIFF files that you wish to merge together. Then choose File > Automate > Photomerge… from the drop-down menu.
Under Layout, choose Reposition Only. Click the Add Open Files button (and remove any extra files that are open if you need to.) Then click OK and let the computer work out a lot of the stitching for you. You will need to have an understanding of layer masks and the clone tool in order to then perfect the stitching. From there you can make color corrections and other adjustments.
When you are ready to save your file, make sure to save it as a TIFF and not a JPG. JPG images are lossy, which means that they lose quality and degrade the image. TIFF will save it at the exact quality that your camera took the image. Don’t forget to save the image with the title and your name in the filename.
That’s it! If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I will be happy to get back to you.