Digital Image Manipulation and its importance in business

Digital Image Manipulation

Images talk.  Images can convey information.  The information can be pleasant or disturbing, nice or ugly, inspiring or fearful.  But it is for sure that all images say something.

But what is image manipulation? A process to change an image to make more attractive or give a completely different view from the original one. You cannot normally figure out actually what it was before. Normally this process is applied for business purpose and often in social media.

We all like to see the picture that is pleasant to watch.  Even, sometimes we like to see the pictures of products which we like to possess or buy at a later time.  The more appropriate a picture is the more clearly and loudly it can convey its message.

For advertisement

Basically, digital image manipulation is to make an image or a photograph to look better.  For advertisement purposes, for example – billboards, posters, newspaper and magazine ads, etc.; it is very often required to manipulate the image dramatically in an entertaining way, to convey the message to the buyer.  Most of the time, it is required to add/remove various objects to the new composition.

Importance in e-commerce website

Digital image manipulation is widely used for e-commerce websites.  They need to show the product neat, clean, and brightly on their e-stores.  If distracting backgrounds, objects, shades are present in their product images, it fails to convey the details of the products to the customers.  Same thing happens when the image is underexposed, overexposed, or imperfectly composed while photographing.  A visitor generally becomes unimpressed with these types of images.  They tend to skip those products to take into consideration.  But it is possible to remove these flaws with the various techniques of digital image editing or image manipulation.

We generally need the following types of manipulations –

Background correction

Background replacement

background remove
Image before and after replacement background

Most of the time a product looks better when it is placed on a clean white background.  If white is not so contrasting to the product color black or other colored background may be used.  When product background is replaced with simple white color the more details becomes easily perceivable to the customer.  This gives the customer more confidence to go for buying the product.  E-commerce websites can benefit more if they make their product images more clear by removing distracting background.

New Composition of objects on the same background

background replacement
Added a new object to the image

Suppose you have two or three objects/products/models in separate photographs.  But you need to bring those in a single background.  You can easily achieve this by making clipping paths for the objects and putting them in a single place by cutting out those objects from their original image.  In a personal case, imagine you got a nice picture of your family, but your eldest son was away from home when the photograph was taken.  The family picture is not complete to hang on the wall.  You can hire a graphic design firm, and they can put your son in the picture by cutting his face/body from another photo.

Product Shadows

After clearing the background, most products look great if some kind of shadowing is applied.   The kinds of shadows normally applied are –

Natural shadow

Natural shadow
image with natural shadow

Natural shadow is the kind of shadow that we can get when lights from a light source falls on an object.   We can create these types of shadows using Photoshop.

Drop shadow

drop shadow
Image with drop shadow

Drop shadow is the Photoshop’s built in shadow making process.  It give the object and the picture more depth.  It is not suitable for creating the shadows described above (natural shadow, reflection shadow).  Those shadow making requires a bit more expertise.

Reflection shadow

reflation shadow
Reflation shadow for a raw image (before)

We can see reflection shadows if we place an object on a glossy base.  Using Photoshop we can apply this effect.  Almost all medium of advertisement like online shopping websites or e-commerce websites, e-catalogs, fashion web catalogs, e-magazines, product images of printed materials, billboards etc., uses some kind of shadows.

Neck joint / Ghost mannequin

Neck joint or ghost mannequin is mainly required for garment products. Garments photographed putting it on a mannequin provides better information like the shape of the garments.  We can see how the garment would look when worn.  But this kind of photograph contains one distracting element, the visible parts of the mannequin.  If we cut out the parts of the mannequin from the picture, the product will be more focused and look better.  It will give us an interesting perception like the presence of a ghost mannequin inside the garment.  To complete this technique of image manipulation we need an additional picture of the inner part of the neck of the garment.  Then a professional graphic designer can join the neck part to complete the process.  This technique is widely used in e-commerce websites to display the garments in such a way that a customer can have a better understanding and confidence regarding the garments they are going to buy.

Neck joint
clothing image is created by joining different part of it

Glamour retouching

Glamour retouch
A retouched image (after) from the original one

It seems like there are trillions of effects and techniques the industry uses and applies for glamour retouching and human skin/body/hair/nails/lips/etc./etc. manipulation of the images.  Following is a list of commonly used glamour retouching effects used:

Digital makeup/beauty retouch services

  • Color correction
  • Red eye correction
  • Blemish removal
  • Dental repair
  • Digital face-lift
  • Smoothing the skin
  • Moderate weight reduction
  • Removing wrinkles & facial lines to reduce age
  • Professional treatments for advertising
  • Stray hair removal
  • Removal of minor background/foreground distractions
  • Face or body parts reconstruction
  • Wedding photo retouch

Raster to Vector conversion

raster to vector drawing
raster to vector drawing

You can convert a raster file to vector format, either by an automated procedure provided by the software like Adobe Illustrator.  Live trace procedure of Illustrator is applied in this case.  The automated output you get may not be suitable for printing or other media.  There are many automatic raster to vector software or plugins available.  But I did not find any one of those that can produce the output that is more clean to work with, or that is appropriately close to the original diagram, drawing or logo.

raster to vector conversion
another raster to vector image

Very often, it is better not to employ the automatic process.  Hand-made tracings from the original image can provide more close to the original and realistic outputs.  You can provide more close gradients and colors to the various sections of your output.  Of course, hand-made raster to vector conversion is a pro job and requires more skill and time.  As for other types of files a vector file can be saved and converted into various types of formats like – DXF, SVG, CDR, AI and more.

Pre-press desktop publication

Requirement for digital image manipulation in pre-press desktop publication is enormous.  From newspapers to magazines, fashion magazines, catalogs, posters, flyers all need huge quantity of image manipulation.  They require almost every types of image editing services mentioned above.

Everybody needs it

Requirement of digital image manipulation services is everywhere.  For personal requirement of correcting photographic flaws like exposures etc. and minor retouching, to the huge area of advertisement, show business, TV commercials, everybody needs image manipulation.  If digital image manipulation is done ethically, it can be very useful for the advertisement, publication, and show biz industry.  Prior to digital era of photography photographers usually would do it in the dark room.  With the development of computers and image manipulation software a different creed of professionals got involved in the image manipulation tasks.  Because of the availability of the graphic design houses and highly skillful Photoshopers, professional photographers now can focus on their main job of photography more and self-marketing.  The graphic design firms are capable of doing the job according to the instruction and requirements of their clients.

:  Graphics Design, Photoshop