Self publishing a book for the print on demand market (POD) means ensuring the images within are perfect in every way. But for various reasons, the picture quality might turn out poor – they appear pixilated, bleached out or exhibit grubby marks. What are the best ways of improving image quality for print books without having to fork out money for imaging software?
Picture Program to Increase DPI of Images
One of the commonest flags a self publishing platform, such as Createspace gives is that the images within a book have low DPI. DPI stands for dots per square inch, and anything less than 300DPI will appear pixilated in print. To guard against this, always set the scanner to 300DPI when scanning the image. Otherwise, set the camera to the highest resolution possible.
When to Retake Photographs
The following tips will enhance your images, but there are occasions when a poor image is not worth bothering with, for instance graininess or pixilation that is beyond help, regardless of what you do with the DPI or sharpening tools. A cropped image will not contain sufficient detail. In the same way, an image that is out of focus or bleached out cannot be fixed. In such cases, consider doing a reshoot. Read my article on taking perfect photographs for your print book. But if you decide to go ahead, save a copy of the original image in case things go wrong whilst adjusting the image.
Free Image Resizer
If during the trimming stage, the DPI of the image is decreased, you can increase the DPI again with free image software. I use IrfanView to resize my images. It is a useful picture program that does lots of other things. (If you already have PaintShop Pro, you can increase the image DPI in the same way). Simply browse to the image you need to resize. Click on ‘image’ and then ‘resize/resample’. In the window that shows the DPI range of the image, set the DPI to 300. Save the image.
Clean up Images of Unwanted Marks
Erase unwanted marks and scratches from scanned drawings by using Paint, a free Microsoft image software. Open the application and then open the image. If the marks are near detail, pan into the image by clicking on ‘view’ then ‘zoom’ or by using the magnifying tool. You can use the ‘eraser’ or ‘airbrush’ to rid the marks. If the area to be cleaned is of a particular colour, you can copy and paste a neighbouring area of the same colour and drag it over the blemish.
Sharpen up Images Easily
Even the best photographs can look a little fuzzy when panning in. Sharpen them by opening the image in IrfanView (or PaintShop Pro if you already have it) and clicking on ‘image’ and the ‘sharpen’. I would sharpen only by one increment, as going overboard will make your images appear metallic.
Photo Editing for Colour Adjustment
A photograph with oversaturation can look cheap and garish. Tone the colours down by opening the image in Pictures and clicking ‘fix,’ which will open image adjustment options. Click on ‘adjust colour’ and then drag the toggle to the left. Going all the way will bring the image to monochrome, ideal for certain effects. To bring a sepia tint to your image, save the black and white version as a separate file, open it in Pictures again and then drag the colour temperature to the right to add warmth. You can also add warmth or coolness to colours by twiddling with the colour temperatures.
Photo Editor for Contrast improvement
In the same window, you can deepen contrast between light and shade in the image by clicking on ‘adjust exposure’ in Pictures. Drag the contrast toggle to the right to increase contrast, to the left to bring out detail in middle tones.
Imaging Software for Photographs Out of True
A photograph that features perpendicular angles such as a horizon or buildings taken askew can look unsightly. You can adjust the rotation value of the image by clicking on the ‘custom fine rotation’ under ‘images’ on Irfanview. Fine tune the orientation of the image by inputting a particular angle value in degrees. Some fiddling is required to get it right. Once saved, go back into Pictures and trim off any white background that will result from the fine rotating.
Free Image Software Downloads
You don’t need costly imaging software to improve the quality of images of your published book. I get by with Paint, Pictures and Irfanview. I also find Picassa and PaintShop Pro useful for special effects and for putting text on top of pictures. Remember to save a copy of the original image in case things go wrong and you can start again.
If publishing a kindle book on Kindle you will also need a good file compression software such as Winzip. I use Jzip which is free. Read my article on how to compress image files for uploading onto publishing platforms.
Articles on Publishing Picture Books on POD
How to publish children’s picture books on POD
Formatting images with text on POD
Bleed or no bleed for print books?
Increase How to increase DPI of your images
Troubleshooting poor images for print books
My images look too small on ereaders
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