First off, Happy PiDay to you on this date of 3.14.16!  Second, let’s take a look at some recent work I’ve been adding to my stock image portfolio, in the PNG file format.

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So, what’s PNG you ask?  Everyone is used to the JPG file format for their images.  It’s a data compression scheme that keeps the size down on your image files, while retaining maximum detail (depending on your settings).  One thing that JPG left out, though, was the ability to save the transparency of pixels in an image.  It saves data for the R, G and B (red, green and blue) channels for each pixel, but keeps no record of the A (alpha) or transparency value.  A PNG file does save transparency information, which is what makes it valuable in certain situations where you want to composite one image over another.

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In this image, snapped from Photoshop, you can see the RGB image on the left, and a representation of the transparency on the right.  Black is transparent, and white is opaque.

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This information allows the image to be composited over another image in Photoshop or another editing program with ease.

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Where this is actually coming into play is at the website Canva.com .  Canva is an online design an editing tool, that allows you to select a stock image from a library, mix it with other images, lay text over it, etc., etc.  The fun part is that you do all this with preview images until you get just the right result, and then is when you pay for the content you’ve used in your design.  Along with the usual stock image content without transparency, Canva incorporates PNG files with transparency into the mix.  (By the way, you don’t need to worry about what format the images are in…)  So, you can have a background image, and then drag an image with transparency on top of it.  It’s really pretty cool.  Like this holiday mash-up done in two seconds…

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I’ve been taking some of my existing work, as well as creating some new imagery, and have been adding transparency.  These images are available both at Canva, and in a special library in my Photoshelter Portfolio.  I’m working to add people, objects and 3d renders to both libraries.  At Photoshelter, the images are available in a maximum pixel size of 1500px for the longest size.  This is so I can price them affordably, but not undercut the non-transparent, larger version.  Keep in mind that the non-3d image are very labor intensive, since I have to create and check the transparency of the image manually.  No magical process here.

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Part of this project involved some tedious work in Photoshop to process files into PNG format, and at different sizes.  (Non-techies can skip this section.)  I did some internet research for a PNG resize script, but couldn’t find exactly what I needed.  I did start with a script that got about halfway there, and modified it quite a bit to deal with what I was encountering.   The workflow is to put all of the PSD or PNG files into a directory.  The script is then run, and you select the source directory, and then the target directory.  Then, the pixel size of the largest output side – I am using 1500, so that is the default.  If I enter a number larger than the largest side of the image, like 8000, it will just do a straight conversion – ie., PSD to PNG.  Then it runs, and lets you know when it finishes.

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So you don’t have to do the work if you’re looking to do bulk PNG resizing, I’m making this script available for download: http://www.seanlockephotography.com/scripts/png_resizer.jsx  So, enjoy!  Put the script somewhere on your local drive, and then use Photoshop->File->Scripts->Browse to find it.  Then follow the process detailed above.

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So, if you haven’t yet, check out Canva !  And have a slice of pie today 🙂

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