Monday, November 22, 2010

Of bellyaching Photoshop artists

Consider this a rant, at the same time another polemic on free software vs proprietary software.
Last Saturday, I took my files to the printer so I could see if there were any hiccups with what I had prepared. Apparently there was.

The cover illustration for one of the books was only available in medium-resolution JPEG format. Still, I didn't think it would be a problem as I only wanted two colors. It should have been easy to separate the red from the black, right?

Well, wrong. At least according to the Photoshop artists I spoke to.

"We can't work with this file," my designated artist said. "Look at this" -- he enlarged the file -- "do you see the jaggies there?"

"If you give us this file," his seatmate said, "we have no choice but to print it out using full-color." (That meant we would go over budget.)

"Waittaminnit!" I said. "Can't you just trace the file and turn it into a vector?"

"Oh, that's very difficult!" they said. "It will take hours!" And to prove their point, my designated artist did his thing on his Adobe Photoshop. The screen filled out with a jungle of blue nodes and connecting lines.

"Fine, fine," I sighed. "I'll do it myself."

I sat on it over a lazy Sunday, finally got off my butt this Monday morning, and fired up my computer. I separated the colors in GIMP, then traced the resulting images over in Inkscape. VoilĂ ! I had my clean vector graphics in 15 minutes, done after breakfast and before I had to leave for work. See details above.

Danged spoiled Photoshop jockeys. Harrumph!


  1. Sir, did you use potrace in Inkscape?

  2. Hi, Jin,

    Yes I did.

    Actually, the process went like this:

    I separated the colors of the original picture in GIMP. I turned black into a transparency and played around with the levels, threshold, and contrast. This produced an image with only the red component. I subtracted the resulting image from the original to come up with the black component.

    Then, I brought each into Inkscape separately and used Image to Path.