Pat O'Bryan said he was using a
software package that generates 3-D images of a book or
box, but complained that the images didn't look very
professional. He pointed to his web page at this URL
www.instantchange.com and wanted to know why the
edges of the boxes looked rippled and why the text was
hard to read.
To begin with, here's one box image
exactly as it's displayed on that web at 180 pixels wide
by 202 pixels high. Pat wanted to know why the edges were
rippled and the title was hard to read.
Now take a look down below to see
the actual image stored in the root folder of Pat's web
site. The image is actually 264 pixels wide by 300 pixels
high. When Pat specified the size at which he wanted
this image displayed, he was directing any browser to
COMPRESS THE IMAGE to make it appear smaller. This
accounts for some of the ripples and distortion on the
Pat could either:
1)display the image at it's full
2) create a new, smaller
image in the size he wants it displayed
Still, as you can see, even at full size some lines are
rippled and the text is somewhat hard to read. The ripples
and wonky letters are both created by the compression
ratio the software uses when it formats the image as
a jpg (j-peg.) When you tell the software to "save"
your file, it must reduce the image, or compress it, into
a jpg. When the pixels are compressed, their shape is
slightly altered. The effect is that thin lines look
rippled or pinched when they are displayed. The smaller
the image display, the more noticeable to ripple effect
One way to reduce the appearance of the ripples is to
use fatter letters. Fonts that have a thicker width will
be easier to read when they are compressed.
Another thing Pat could do to improve the appearance of
the box is to use a lighter background color. The white
lines that divide the box into 3 surfaces (noted with an
arrow in the image above) will always be seen as a thin
white line on the monitor. When that thin line is pinched
between 2 black surfaces, the ripples from
compression will be easily seen. The ripple effect would
not be nearly as noticeably on a lighter color box.
Creating , displaying and printing graphic images is a
very complicated process. Software that "automatically"
generates 3-D images still needs an operator that knows
what they're doing.
Using the web is primarily a visual experience.
Viewers often browse the pictures on a web site first,
using them to judge whether or not they will go back and
browse any text. Well designed images will actually tell
your story before the viewer reads a single word.
Take a look at this mock-up I
made of Pat's web page as it could be.
Before, Pat's web page was a jumble of unrelated
images. Now all the images are related in color and style.
Creating a consistent and professional appearance helps
make Pat a "brand" rather than just a blaring web site.
Notice, too, how the message gets across without words. A
picture really is worth 1000!
Images are vitally important, but is it worth your time
and money to buy graphic software and learn how to use it?
It costs between $600 and $1000. to buy Photoshop. I spend
another $1000. per year on updates, manuals, training and
add-ins. Learning to make and use effective graphics is a
major undertaking both in time and money.
You can see my work in the
book cover catalog section of this web.
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