Part 4: Preparing Images for Your Descriptions
In Part 4, we discuss how to prepare images for use in torrent descriptions. While it's easy to just pull a random image off Google Image Search, a little discernment can help improve images a lot, and spending a bit more time can make your torrent description look simply amazing with the right images.Note:
All JPGs were saved at 95% quality. Filesizes of images should be further reduced when being used in images, as per Part 2: JPEG compression
Before talking about preparing images, you will first need to find a place to host them. Photobucket
and xs.to are just some of the places where your images can be hosted (most Boxtorrents users host their images on one of these 3 providers). When signing up for an account, take note of how much storage space and bandwidth you are given. If you are planning on making many uploads, this might become a deciding factor.Getting Source Images
We begin this guide with a short note on finding good source images. The best sources are, of course, high-quality scans. There are many sources for scans, they should be easily found on sites like AnimePaper
, or on imageboards such as danbooru
. Try to find a good image that:
1) is at least 1000 pixels along one of the dimensions
2) does not have visible artifacting ("messy" pixels along edges, and other imperfections)
3) is not terribly scanned (i.e. not too washed out or too dark, does not have scan-lines, etc)
If you're making a description for an OST collection, check if it comes with album scans. If it does, those should be a good source for images.
If you can't find scans to work with, wallpapers or user-made vectors are another source to check. These are usually found in the same place as scans, and the same criteria applies to them as well. Try to use images that have not been processed too much.
As a last resort, if you really cannot find a scan or wallpaper to your liking, you can try image search engines (such as Google Image Search). Find the cleanest image you can, and make sure it is of a decent size (~300x300 or larger). You do not want to be caught in a situation where you have to upsize your images.Note:
Always check your sources. If they say you can use the image only by giving due credit, then do so. It's best if the image is public domain or use-with-due-credit.Note 1a: Preparing Images from low-quality sources
For low-quality JPGs that you find off image search engines, the general rule of thumb is to do as little processing as possible. These images have had a lot of visual information thrown away, and the more processing you do to it, the more information you discard. Pretty much the only processing you want to do for these is some tone adjustment (see below) and cropping.Note 1b: Preparing Images from high-quality sources
For high-quality scans or vectors, we have plenty of information to work with. We want to highlight pertinent features in the image, and hide or de-emphasise other parts of it. We begin by resizing the image to a size that's easier to work with.Preparing Images for Processing
Needless to say, the first thing to do is to crop away parts of the image you don't need. This is easily done by selecting the part of the image you want to keep, and then selecting Image -> Crop to Selection
(GIMP or Paint.Net).
Most scans will come at around 2000x2000px; this is a little too large for us to work with, so we begin by resizing to about 1000x1000px (see Part 1: Image Resizing
A general rule of thumb is to resize to 2 or 3 times the size of the final image. If your final image is 200x300px, then it is useful to resize to 400x600px to work with. This makes it easier to see roughly what the final image would look like, and also gives you some room for hiding artefacts and other imperfections that come with image processing.Some examples done using Paint.Net:Example 1
- Kanon Original Soundtrack: Before
-> After Gaussian Blur (Radius 2), resized to 1000x1000pxExample 2
- Clannad Afterstory OP/ED Single: Before
-> After Noise Removal (Radius 3, Strength 0.3), Gaussian Blur (Radius 2), resized to
- Air Movie Soundtrack: Before
-> After Gaussian blur (Radius 2), resized to 500x378px
Once the image is at a good size, we can begin with the fun stuff. In the rest of this guide, I will be using Paint.Net as my main tool, using GIMP occasionally to illustrate some points.Adjusting for colour
Have you ever seen descriptions with multiple images, where some of the images are darker while others are lighter, some are more faded while others are richer in colour? We'll try to eliminate that using the 3 methods outlined below, so that the images in the description all look consistent.Part 1: Levels
At this point, I'd like to introduce you to the Levels tool. you can find him under Colors -> Levels
(GIMP) or Adjustments -> Levels
(Paint.Net). He's a less advanced, but easier to use version of his brother, Curves. I'll be working with the Kanon OST image. Nice scan, but we can do some stuff with it to make it look nicer in a description.
This is what the Levels tool interface looks like in Paint.Net:
It looks like a scary curve, but it's pretty easy to interpret. Each pixel in the image is represented as a mix of 3 colours: R
reen and B
lue. Each colour is represented by a value from 0-255.
The Input Histogram is a count of the number of pixels for each given value. The top of the curve represents pixels with value 255, and the bottom represents pixels with value 0. The 3 coloured curves, of course, represent values for each colour channel (R, G or B).
We can easily see that the peak occurs at about value 238. This means that we have a lot of pixels with red, green or blue values near 238. This is not surprising, as most of the image is near-white, thus having RGB values around value 238.
We can improve this image by making the background full-white so it looks cleaner. Notice that there are 2 number-input boxes at the top and bottom of the curve, and corresponding indicators (the small black triangles). Let's say we drag the top slider down, or give it a value of 226 (use the up/down arrows in the input box, or type '226' and press 'Tab').
What you've effectively done is tell Paint.Net that you want all colour values that are 226 or higher, to be changed to 255 (the largest value) instead. Colour values from 0 to 266 are adjusted (stretched) accordingly so that they now fill the scale from 0 to 255. The result can be seen in the main image window, and in the histogram to the right.
Because we increased the colour values of all the pixels, the image now looks a little bright-ish. We can darken the dark parts of the image by moving the bottom indicator slightly upwards, or typing '10' in the bottom box.
This is what the Levels interface will look like after inputting the values:
and your changes will be saved. the image now looks much brighter, although also a little lighter.
Paint.Net's levels display doesn't tell the full story. Let's take a look at GIMP's Levels tool (before, followed by after):
Notice the white gaps in-between the black curves? Those come about because we're scaling 213 (226 - 10 = 213) colour values to fit 256 values. Since colour values can't be stored as decimal numbers, the numbers are rounded off, resulting in gaps. This is where we lose colour information
; at those white gaps, we will never know how many pixels were supposed to have that value. This is the tradeoff we always have to make when processing images.
This is the end result of level adjustment (followed by more Gaussian blur, noise removal and 50% resizing):Part 2: Saturation
I'll use the image from the Air Movie OST to demonstrate what saturation can do for you. It's another lovely image that doesn't really need any work. but let's say we want to bring out the golden colour of Misuzu's hair; In this case, Saturation is the tool you're looking for.
This is what it looks like:
You can find Saturation under Adjustments -> Hue / Saturation
. By increasing Saturation by 10%, we see that Misuzu's hair now looks richer and more golden. But as a result, her scarf/tie looks really red now, and some parts of the clouds in the background have now taken on a somewhat-odd tinge of blue. We could, of course, saturate only Misuzu's hair by selecting only that part of the image for filtering, but I will not cover selection and more advanced techniques here (look to Google and more professional sites for that).
This is the end result of bumping up Saturation by 10%:
The picture was intentionally blurred slightly, to hide some imperfections. It would look just fine with better focus too actually.Part 3: Hue
Nagisa looks lovely in this scan from the Season 2 OP/ED single, but her skin looks kind of pale. Let's give her a healthier skin tone using Hue.
Hue is the companion tool to Saturation, and they can be found in the same place, Adjustment -> Hue / Saturation
. This is what Hue tool interface looks like:
By moving the Hue point left by 5 points (value of -5), we make the image redder, thus giving Nagisa a rosier skin tone. Shifting it left gives it a yellower colour, making her appear jaundiced. Try the full Hue range and see what colours you get.
This is the end result of reddening the Hue by 5 points (followed by more Gaussian blur, and a 50% resize):Summary
Once you've started making more than a few descriptions, you will start to have ideas of what you want your description to look like. You might want to adjust image colours and properties to better suit coloured backgrounds, or to make a group of images look more consistent in tone. This part of the description-making guide covers very basic techniques that you can use to do so.