From pic to art

With a digital camera and an A3 photo printer, there's no reason why you can't decorate the walls of your home with your very own great-looking artistic creations. WINDOWS shows you how to turn your digital photo into a hangable piece with an exclusive three-step guide...

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By  Cleona Godinho Published  September 16, 2007

With a digital camera and an A3 photo printer, there's no reason why you can't decorate the walls of your home with your very own great-looking artistic creations. WINDOWS shows you how to turn your digital photo into a hangable piece with an exclusive three-step guide...

Step 1 Snap right

Arguably the key question when preparing to take digital shots for future creative use is this: when it comes to printing your final piece of art at A3 size, what resolution should you shoot at? Or even, if you haven't bought a camera yet, how many megapixels will you need for this job?

1. Well the generally accepted starting stat is that if you print an image taken with a three megapixel camera (at a resolution of 300ppi - pixels per inch, which is ideal), you'll get an 8 x 10-inch image.

As A3 prints - which we're talking about here - measure 11.7 x 16.5 inches, then this equates to using at least a five-megapixel camera (to check out which products we recommend check out www.itp.net/reviews).

2. Make sure you set your camera's capture quality to ‘high', ‘premium' or 'large' (the this setting name will depend upon the camera you're using). This way your original image will feature as many pixels per inch (which you'll often hear called dpi) as possible, making for sharper final prints.

3. Also, if your digital camera allows it (which SLR models for instance do), take your shots in RAW format if possible, as this doesn't compromise image quality like JPEG captures.

4. For more guidance on how to take fantastically composed shots, check out the feature on itp.net called ‘Snap Happy'.

Step 2 Art attack

With Adobe's high-level Photoshop program, there is actually a quick-click route to transform your picture into a nice looking painting. Here's how...

1. First things first, you'll need Photoshop on your PC. Try downloading the trial version from adobe.com.

At the site, head for the top Downloads menu bar then choose Trial Downloads. You'll then need to sign in and create an account before you can download the app.

2. Once downloaded and installed however, open up Photoshop and click File/Open to grab the digital image you want to transform.

3. Once open, it's important to make that your digital image is being displayed in RGB format (the same colour range or format your monitor uses). Not all Photoshop's filters - which we'll be using next - are available when viewing images that are in the more print-accurate CMYK format.

To do this, click Image/Mode/RGB color. (When you're done with this transformation process in a few minutes however, be sure to turn your image into CMYK format - using the same toolbar - as this will mean its colours are printed accurately.)

4. Now head for the Filter toolbar, click Artistic and then we suggest you start with the Watercolour option.

Know your resolutions

Don't be confused by digital camera and printer resolutions.

If you zoom in on a digital image using image editor software, what you see will gradually start looking like little squares of colour - each one of these is a pixel.

Camera resolutions - given usually in megapixels - refer to the number of pixels (tiny squares of colour) that appear in one image (one million pixels = one megapixel).

Put simply, the more pixels an image has, the more detail you'll be able to see (plus the larger an image's file size will be and the larger its potential print size).

Print resolutions however are given as ‘dpi' figures. This refers to the number of ink ‘dots' made on each square inch of paper - ‘dpi = dots per inch' - to create a print image.

Note: a digital picture's resolution is strictly referred to as being in pixels - in the form of ppi or ‘pixels per inch' - however much of the time people incorrectly refer to this figure as a picture's dpi. It's not right, but it helps to know what your friends or colleagues might mean by this (unless they're talking about a printer's output of course - which is referred to in terms of dpi figures.


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