Make it brighter, sharpen it up, and size it right.
Everyone likes beautiful product photography. Designers like it; your customers like it; and bloggers LOVE IT.
I always try to open up my posts with a great photo, because it makes the blog look good and it gets people’s attention. Now, I’m not pointing any fingers, but not all of you wonderful crafters out there are equally skilled at taking pictures.
So, I’m going to share 3 super simple quick & easy Photoshop tricks you can use to make even some of the worst product photos look way better.
These are 3 steps I almost always take when adjusting photos to publish on the blog. They’re easy to remember too: curvy, sharp, size.
A Photoshop beginners’ tutorial of tricks after the jump. And for those that don’t need this tutorial, check out Smashing Magazine’s latest post on product photography.
Before we get started, make sure your photo is in RGB mode because that’s what you want for the web. You can check by looking at the file info directly above your photo. It you’re photo does not say RGB above it, then go to the top menu bar and Photoshop. Click Image>Mode>RGB.
Now we’re ready.
For my example, I’ll use this photo I took of a pug wearing a t-shirt I designed… and headphones. As you can see, this photo has potential but it’s so dark! That’s where your curves come in.
Step 1. CURVES
In the top menu in Photoshop, go to Images>Adjustments>Curves. Or just hit command+M.
You’ll get a box with a diagonal line. The box is sort of like the field of lightness and darkness in a photo. To adjust this, just click on the diagonal line somewhere close to the center and drag the point towards the upper left corner.
Make sure the little preview box underneath the options button is checked. As you move your point, you’ll see your image brighten up. Once you like the level of brightness, click okay. The photo already looks way better!
Step 2. SHARPEN
Getting a photo 100% in focus isn’t easy. Luckily, there is room to fudge it. You can use a Photoshop filter to slightly increase the focus of your photo.
In the top menu go to Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen. There are more intense sharpen options, but over-sharpening your photo will make it look grainy. Clicking Sharpen just once is usually perfect.
So now we’ve got great detail, and you’re pretty much done majorly improving your photo.
The last tip deals with making your photos the same height.
Step 3. CROP
This step isn’t essential, but having all of your photos the same height makes it easy to put a collection of your photos together to feature on a blog. It also gives a more uniform and tied together look to your entire set of product photography.
If you don’t have rulers along the edge of your image, go up to your top menu in Photoshop. Click View>Rulers or hit command+R on your keyboard. You can change your measuring units by clicking the word Photoshop in that top menu and then going to Preferences>Units & Rulers.
Here, you can see that one of my images is 10 inches tall and the other is 9 inches. So, I want to resize my first image so that it is also 9 inches.
A quick way to do this is by using the crop tool.
In your left hand toolbar, select the crop tool or just hit the C on your keyboard. You’ll notice that the bar underneath the top menu changes.
You’ll see boxes next to width, height, and resolution. Type in the height you want. In this case, we want 9 inches. And since it will be for the web, we want a resolution of 72.
With your crop tool, just drag a rectangle that you want to be the border of your image. I want the entire image, not a cropped portion, so I drag my rectangle all the way to the edges.
Once you have your dotted rectangle — what my Photoshop teachers called “marching ants” — just double click anywhere inside that rectangle.
Take a look at your rulers, and voila! Your image is now the dimension that you typed in the box.
Now it’s easier for someone to put my images together quickly.
I hope this helps you with getting great looking photos worthy of all the work and creativity you put into your projects. The Curves tool is sure to be your new best friend!