Category Archives: Graphics

Creating your own leaflets

I create a lot of documents, adverts, flyers and so on. Whilst one can use Microsoft Word or LibreOffice, something more specialist makes life a lot easier. My favourite is Affinity Publisher which has lots of capabilities while being remarkably cheap.

However these packages, whilst great, sort of give you a blank canvas. Maybe you want more of a helping hand. In that case Adobe Spark might be more up your street. It’s free and takes you through the creative process with lots of templates and ideas to make your work stand out.

Quick photo editing

Now I like being creative with my photos, so I use Affinity Photo for my photo-editing. A real alternative to Photoshop with outright purchase for £48.99 or less (they have lots of sales!).

But there’s a learning curve, so what if you just need to tweak a photo before, say, emailing or printing? The built-in photos app in Windows 10 has some surprising capabilities. Open the program and load a photo. Now click ‘Edit and create’ at the top-right, then ‘edit’

Now you can crop, rotate and straighten, change the colour balance and brightness – simple to use and free!

Take a look at my video guide to the Photos app: https://youtu.be/jadQZIUnTrE

Turn B&W photos into colour

I’ve been scanning lots of old photos, many are black and white. It would be great to see some of them in colour. Now I hope you remember the film They Shall Not Grow Old, where monochrome film from the First World War changed into colour.

OK, we probably don’t have the same computing power as that studio, but we can get surprisingly close. It can be done laboriously with a photo package, but there are several free and online apps to use. Most are automatic and don’t offer fine tuning but get it pretty right and you can always make a final tweak using photo-editing software. These apps may be limited to the number you can process, but you can usually pay a fee to upgrade.

Here is a recent photo of yours truly processed using Vanceai:

and I don’t think the result is too shabby. There are lots of others if you search for ‘colorizing free’ and another recommended to me is offered by playback.fm’. This gave similar results but doesn’t seem to be limited in volume:

Find all those duplicate images

One of the good things about film cameras was that we thought much more about taking pictures and we made few copies. Now with digital cameras and phone cameras and everything we are deluged with photos.

Then we put copies into folders, forget where they are and we just fill our hard drive up.

Currently, I’m analysing some external hard drives and have found seven copies of the same folder and contents. So I need an answer.

Mots of the programs that detect duplicate images just give a list of what they have found so I have to check the results out by hand. And it won’t find rotated and other adjusted images.

I was pleased to come across Find.Same.Images.OK which is designed to locate duplicate images as well as any that are rotated or mirrored and more.

It works by analysing the images down to a pixel level, rather than just relying on file names and file sizes. This means it can find altered and edited images

Not only that but it has image previews so that you can be sure about what it has found before you delete them. All in all a very powerful tool.

Exploring Google Lens

Google Lens is part of Google Photos, so if you don’t have that on your phone, download it from Google Play or the Apple App Store.

The first feature that we are going to look at is OCR or turning a photo into text. Take a photo or get an image of something with text in. Open it in Google photos and make sure it is in portrait mode (use the rotate mode to reorient it, then ‘done’ and ‘save’.

Open the photo and click the Lens icon (a bit like a dot in a square). You’ll see something that looks like a meteor storm as Lens goes about its work (You’ll need data or wifi enabled).

In a few seconds there will be results presented intelligently (a weblink might be highlighted) with suggested Google searches from text or the ability to press ‘text selection’ to get the whole lot as text to copy and paste.

If you scan a business card, Lens will extract the info and place into your contacts.

It will also recognize landmarks to give you opening times and a link to a Wikipedia page if there is one or a Google search.

Pretty impressive for free.

iPhone and iPad photos

If your device is running iOS11, your photos are now automatically saved in HEIC format. Which is great, as it is more efficient, and which is dreadful as hardly anything else can open them. There some apps which will convert to the more common jpeg format, but you may find it easier to go to settings-camera-formats and select ‘most compatible’. You may no longer be at the leading edge of phone storage but other people can see your creations!

Extract text from images

I use my phone camera to capture information, like interesting snippets from journals, technical specs or bus timetables for coming back again. If you have a photo or a scan, you often want to turn it into text that you can reformat or whatever.

Well capture2text lets you do that. Download it and place your mouse at the top-left of what you want to convert. Now press the windows key & Q, move the mouse pointer to the bottom-right of what you want to capture and finally left-click. A new window opens with the text in it.

An alternative is to use Google docs that has OCR built in

Free Fonts

Although one of the biggest mistakes people make with design is using too many fonts, the right one can really enhance the message we give out. Google has over 800 fonts that you can use for free at fonts.google.com.

There is a selection menu to whittle down the fonts and a pretty good display of the fonts on offer. Once you have made a choice, the fonts can either be embedded in your website or downloaded to your computer.