Agnes Caruso Photography

Photography

5 steps to erasing background in Corel PaintShop Pro 2019

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As we step into 2019, it is only fitting to give you some of the tricks and tips from using Corel PaintShop Pro 2019 on a Windows10 computer. Image manipulation software can be difficult to use if you are not using it constantly. Have you ever figured out something just to forget it the next time you needed it and ended up spending a lot of time trying to remember? I think we all have been there at some stage. One way not to forget is to write things down. Second solution is to know where the video instructions are and watch the videos while doing it yourself. Finally, you can invest in a manual to have it as a reference.

All of those ideas are great, but it is in our nature not always follow what is logical. Therefore, in addition to my videos you can find on my blog, you can also download infographics from my website. These will be short instructions not a substitution for a user manual, which can be consulted from within the software. That said, using a single screen for reading and doing what you read is a little bit challenging. Tutorials on more complex processing and editing can be also found in the video library of the Corel Discovery Center. However, not all basics are explained and for most part it is the basics that get us frustrated when trying to edit images.

The infographics together with the video should help you tackle background removal and placement of your favorite object on a new background. Obviously, the more complex the object, the longer it may take you but the process is the same. Remember that when erasing background, you need to release mouse button from time to time to ensure that if you make a mistake an undo action will not take you back to the beginning of the process! Frustrating? Yes, and easy to forget when wiping away the background.

Hopefully, you have some fun backgrounds to work with for your editing. However, I will be creating some background collections, which will be available for download from my website for those who have signed up for my mailing list. So go ahead and sign-up to get some exclusive free offers and discounts.

Enjoy the video and if you have any questions do not hesitate to ask. If you are interested this video was recorded using Windows10 game recording tool and yes, it is my first recorded video.


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Hugin – your panorama maker!

Creating panoramic images is not a trivial thing and learning how to do it well is not easy. There are many different solutions, some require special lenses, others are software based. Wide angle lenses have been in many photographers’ bags for decades. They allow to take a panoramic photograph ready to print once downloaded. However, many photographers do not have one of those and majority of amateurs do not have one either.

So what can they do? Taking a series of images partly overlapping is the solution, even photos taken with a wide angle lens can be stitched together. Such series of images has to be then processed to create one single image. This is done with a software tool. One of the best tools I have used for this purpose is hugin software. I do not remember when I started using it but it was still on my old MacBook Pro. Now I use it on Windows 10 platform. It allows you to stitch horizontal and vertical panoramas, adjust their sizes and composition.

The user interface is available on three different levels: simple, advanced and expert. You can also switch between the interfaces as I frequently do while running the program.

I have seen opinions that the software is not great for beginners but I did not find it difficult at all to use. The user interface is not what many people are used to and may seem complicated or difficult but it really is very easy to use. Help content is great and can guide you through all the aspects of creating a panorama.

How to create a panorama?

  • Export your images in jpeg format from Adobe Lightroom or another program. Additionally, I save my images for making panoramas in a separate folder to make them easy to find.
  • Load your images and simple interface is the easiest way to get this done, especially when you are starting with the software.
  • Order of images does not really matter for most part but I like keeping them in a direction from left to right. The first image you import will be called anchor image to which the next one will be compared, so the best practice is to have one of the edge images (left or right) as anchor ones. You can change the anchor image after import but that is an extra step.

  • The next step is to let the software align your images, if there is a good overlap between them, using ALIGN function directly in the simple interface is going to do the trick. You can also select the type of lens you are using or projection you want to use but it is not critical to do it at this stage. You can also inspect the connection points between images, seen in the lower image as colored squares with numbers. If you need to manually assign connection points it will take a little bit of time and effort. I had very few images which needed this kind of adjustment. If there is an alignment problem check how the software is aligning the images.
  • Once the panorama was created, canvas size can be adjusted and an image can be cropped. I usually adjust it to an optimal size, but you can choose any size. Composition can be additionally altered using golden ratio, rule of thirds or diagonals, seen as very light yellow lines in the bottom image of the bridge panorama.

  • Each time you create a panorama, software will save a project which can be later re-opened in hugin software.
  • If you continue working then with a second image set, you will need to remove the current images from the project and add new ones. However, when the software saves the new project you need to check the file name as it tends to save it with the same file name as the previous one.
  • Most panoramas we create are usually horizontal and if you are attempting to do a vertical one, there will be a need to adjust the mode for matching points from normal to vertical. You can see a vertical panorama of Hallgrimskirkja.

Images created can be used directly or can be imported into another software for some additional processing. hugin is a great little software that does a perfect job. Obviously if there are no adequate overlap points it may struggle to join images and you may need to edit points by hand.

One thing that you need to remember is that if your images have very different light the final panorama might look strange. One solution I found was to actually ensure the correct exposure when taking pictures. It is by far the best way to get matching or gradient images. Light adjustment in software like Adobe Lightroom is a much less preferable solution as it can create artifacts and unnatural effects across the panorama. And if you want to make changes to the whole image, it is best to do them once you created and imported panorama back into Adobe Lightroom.

 


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How to make a video from photos?

Have you ever taken pictures and then thought that you should have taken a video? Films and animation has always been a great medium and currently videos are considered a very important medium to be shared on social media. However, you have not taken a video but have a set of images. Not all is lost. In the past slideshows were all we could do with those images and they were awkward to share with anyone even on a computer. The technology has gone way forward and we have no ways to create a video which has similarities with old fashioned animated films.

I am going to focus on two tools I have been testing for creating videos. The first one is AdobeSpark, the second is Microsoft Photos App. Those of you who read some of my previous technical blogs know that I use Microsoft Windows 10 platform. What I decided to do was to create two videos based on the same exact images. My choice was easy, it is about the Diamond Beach in Iceland.

Let’s start with AdobeSpark.

When you select to create new, you are presented with options.

Once you choose a video, there are some potential content options for you to choose from or you can create a video from scratch. This is what I selected and here is the workspace AdobeSpark presents you with when you start. You can add new slides and content to the ones you have. Content added can be a video, photo, text or an icon. You can add images or videos from your computer, Adobe Cloud, Adobe Stock, Dropbox, Lightroom, Google Drive or Google Photos. There is unfortunately no way to re-arrange the slides so you may need to think hard ahead of time or be prepared to move content around.

Once you added all your content, you can add music to your creation from the available files or upload your own. There is also an option to edit your theme or change layout of slides. After you are finished with editing, there are two options. First to download the file, second to share it directly from within AdobeSpark to Facebook, Twitter, email, embed into a site or copy the link. You can create a standard (6.04Mb) or square (3.75Mb) video but both of those come only in one file size. File size will depend on your content, more or larger files will create bigger final file. Another factor affecting the size is how long each frame is shown. Considering this, your ability to make a smaller file are very limited to non-existent.

Now let’s look at Microsoft Photos App. Definitely, not a first choice for most people and not a natural choice – a photo app to edit or create videos? Really?! So what can you expect from this strange solution? When you open an app, it will show you large screen with choices available for you. albums, collections, videos, people and most importantly – folders. It is through folders that you can access your images most conveniently. On the right side you select “Create“. You will have three options presented to you:

  1. Automatic video with music
  2. Custom video with music
  3. Album

I always use custom option as it is easy and gives me lots of freedom to create what and how I want.

At this stage you select the source of your images. I used my Folders and selected folder “Diamond Beach”. All images in the folder were added to the storyboard and a default video was created based on all images in a folder. You can now add or remove photos, add text or movement. Adding text to a photo blurs the image and you can use it as a title screen. Movement can be a little surprising and annoying, so I would suggest checking what movement was added to your images and removing it if you wish or altering to the one you want.

Unlike AdobeSpark, you have quite a lot of freedom with images in Microsoft Photos and even at this stage you can do some basic editing. Obviously not meant to be a replacement for any proper job that should have been done before. Once you are happy with the layout, it is time to add music.

Music in Microsoft Photos App will adjust the length for which each frame is displayed to the music you selected. If you do not like this, it can be changed to your particular settings, just select time and alter the length. Music selection is different than in AdobeSpark, but you also can add your own composition if you wish. Your video can come in two formats – widescreen 16×9 or 4×3.

When exporting files out of Microsoft Photos, independent of aspect, you can get the final file in three different sizes: small (for this video it was 1.7Mb), medium (2.45Mb) and large (4.66Mb). The size depends on how you will use the final video. Your options when exporting are to save to OneDrive, computer or open in App. I strongly suggest not opening in the App, but saving it to your computer.

Now it is time to summarize and compare the two options.

AdobeSpark:

Pros: Wide selection of input images, can import directly from web services

Cons: Web-based app limiting access to when you are connected, no connectivity to OneDrive, no image editing capabilities, no way of rearranging the image order, workspace is overly simple, making it hard to plan your project, one  size file download

Microsoft Photos App:

Pros: Easy access to your OneDrive stored images, existing albums and collections on your computer, well designed workspace allowing for planning, ease of adding or editing images,ability to add 3D effects to the videos or images, multiple sized downloads

Cons: no connectivity to services beyond OneDrive, image editing still too basic, requires Windows 10 computer

I have tried Microsoft Photos video editing just because it is there but ended up liking it quite a bit. Its capabilities were actually a nice surprise and for a free software it is pretty good. The fact that it is a downloaded application on my computer, laptop or phone helps me create and edit videos everywhere, and the process does not require internet connection. So if you are after an easy and simple tool to edit or create your videos, give Microsoft Photos a try. The videos created for this blog are available to be viewed on my website. The medium sized Microsoft video can be viewed below.


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Creating collages with Corel PaintShop Pro 2018

This post came about when I was exploring two things. Firstly, how to create a video on Adobe Spark, and secondly, how to better present some of the images in this video. While a lot of us use whatever app we like on our phone. This is great if you want to quickly share something but it is not the best way to present a high quality collage or create one for printing out.

So let’s see how to create a collage which can be created for online presentation, slideshow, large or small print, postcard for family… It is really up to your imagination how to use your creation.

  • You need to select the canvas size on which you will be working. When you are in Edit tab select File>New and then you can decide if you want to use one of the existing size presets or choose your own. Make sure that your layer is Raster and check if you have a color of the background selected or the layer is transparent. White or black usually works well for a variety of images, however, there are many other colors to choose from as well. While you can also select gradients and patterns, the best backgrounds are simple solid colors. The size of canvas can be in inches, millimeters, centimeters or pixels. You can also change the orientation of the canvas from portrait to landscape.

  • Once you have your canvas open, then you need to decide which images you want to add to it. To select images, go to Manage Tab and navigate to the images you want. Select the image/s you want and click on the Edit tab. The images will open up. you can adjust and crop images if you wish to at this stage, unless they are ready to go. In order to select multiple images use CRTL key.
  • Now your images are ready to put together on your canvas. Select all or whichever part of your image you want to use and copy selection. Now navigate to your canvas and paste selection as new layer. If your canvas is sized in inches or millimeters you may need to resize your pasted image. In order to resize an image make sure that you click on the Pick Tool (a little arrow). However, creating canvas in pixels can allow you to get around this problem.
  • Repeat pasting with other images you want to add to your collage. You end up with an image like this one and list of layers to the right showing each of the images and your background.
  • As you can see images overlap each other. The image which was added last will be on top of the one that was added before it. In this case, image of the dog in a hat is on top of three earlier images but under the last one opened, in top right hand corner.
  • There are two ways to adjust the overlaps. One by selecting Layers in Menu and navigating to Arrange. The second method, by rearranging the layers in the layer window on the right. Both ways will produce the same outcomes.
  • Now you can start being creative with your collage. Each image can be resized, moved around, rotated in any way you wish. I would suggest not rotating the images until you add your frames if you wish to add them.
  • You can add frames to each of the images to make them look special or stand out from the set. You can also add a frame to the entire canvas.
  • In order to add a frame to an image you selected. Under Menu> Image> select Picture Frame. From the drop down menu select the style you wish, make sure you are framing the current layer and have it inside the image, although outside is fine too, just test it and see what you prefer. Effects will vary with different frames and images.

  • You will notice in your Layer list there is a new layer called Raster X Picture Frame, with X corresponding to the layer which you framed.
  • At this stage you need to be careful as moving either frame or content layer will change how they appear. In order to prevent this from happening, select both layers and click on Merge selected under Layer menu or by right clicking. Once that is done you can rotate a framed image however you wish and frame stays with the image.
  • As a last step you may want to add some text to the entire creation. Select a text icon to the left of the image. At the top of the ribbon select the font, size, alignment, style and color. You can also select a text preset to the left of the same ribbon. An additional modification you can make is under Object menu, select Convert Text to Curves or Convert to Path. This will allow you to be a little more creative with the appearance of text on the collage.

 

Once you have created a collage you are pleased with, it is ready to be shared. As I mentioned mine was created to be added to Adobe Spark, but you can also share it as is, or add to some other presentation type. You can obviously print it out as well. Laying out prints can be done using Print Layout under File in Menu or by selecting Print and then choosing to apply template. You may also choose to just print it as is to fill an entire page or part of it.

Corel PaintShop Pro 2018 is very flexible in ways you can create stunning collages, save or print them.

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