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How To Turn Low Quality Photos Into Beautiful Vector Silhouette

Silhouettes add drama, mystery and interest to an image, almost anything can be a silhouette, but before you transform it into one, consider how it will look as only the outline, Sometimes we capture some nice photographs with our cameras, but some of these images are in small size or in bad quality with high noise and bad details.

As we specialize in selling and licensing our stock photography since 2005 through our online stores at Boxist.com and Photos8.com, some of these bad quality images are not good enough to be sold as stock photos, this is because some of these image comes in very low and bad quality, but at the same time these images are beautiful, so deleting them is not an option, so what we can do to turn these photos to be in top quality and also in high resolution format.

We want to get the best of these images and just turn them into a nice vector silhouette and stunning designs that we can resize in any size that we want without losing any quality, this can be done only if we convert them and trace them from bitmap images to vector format, this way only we can create as many designs based on any vector design.

We create many silhouettes in our stock photography business, but for this specific project, we will be using two cropped images from JPG file 1936 x 1288 pixels of (two hands forming the shape of love heart), the two images are taken at the same time in one dark blue evening sky by a Canon EOS Camera 40D (F 6.3 , 1/30 sec, ISO 1000) with such high noise in both images with horrible and unclear details.

These two photos has horrible lighting and noise, but that doesn’t matter since the end goal is to create a vector silhouette from the images.

To begin this project: Let’s convert the low quality JPG images into black vector silhouette, to do this we can use any professional graphics software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop or Corel, but for this project we will be using Corel PhotoPaint and CorelDraw (X3), this process to create the silhouette designs is very simple but there is a few steps that we have to make,

Step 1: To turn the images into a Silhouette we will be converting both of the images to be in Black and White 1 Bit format, the conversion method should be set on (Line Art) and let’s change the threshold option setting to be on about 40 steps, we can always adjust and play a around with the settings until it looks how we want it to be, there is no need worry if there is some black noise still, this can be cleaned and erased in the next steps.

Step 2: If there are some touch ups that are needed, we can use the paint and the eraser tool to make any fixes and cleaning, the image will be saved now as black and white bitmaps.

Step 3: Let’s transfer the images to CorelDraw, this is because now we want to have the images illustrated in vector environment, this will allows us to compose and edit the vector graphics images interactively and save them in one of many popular vector graphics formats, such as EPS, PDF, SVG, CDR, or AI.

Step 4: At CorelDraw software we choose “Quick Trace” option to trace the bitmap in one step, or choose a preset style, this will providing us with more control over the trace feature, for this example we chose the outline trace (the line art style), we adjust the settings of the smoothing options to change how smooth the lines are, as you can see from the red line in the image, the trace we achieved has worked very well.

Step 5: When we have everything traced and lined up the way we want it, we are ready to send out image outline back to CorelDRAW by clicking the OK button.

Step 6: Now we Are Done! the image silhouettes is now a vector line image and it’s ready to be cut out, edited and resized the way we like, we can use the shape tool to make any fixes and adjustments with the lines smoothing or make the arms longer as much we need, silhouettes designs add an artistic effect to photos. and there are so many things we can do with these silhouettes.

Step 7: Now to created the final images, we can now drag the silhouette image of the two hands making the shape of love heart onto another image like this sunset image below using Corel PhotoPaint, but let’s first add some colors with Gaussian blur effect so we give the background a dramatic look with vivid colors rather than a simple sunset image.

The Final Results: High quality image in 8000 x 5333 pixels at 300 dpi, Now that you know how to trace and turn a low quality image to a high quality vector silhouette, you can turn any image you have, including your own hand drawn images and hand writing into a vector silhouette.

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