Friday, July 07, 2006

Yikes! My E-Pattern Files Are HUGE!

If you create E-patterns then you know that file size is very IMPORTANT. Especially if you are going to send your e-patterns as email attachments or if you're going to upload them to a craft pattern website or instant pattern download website.

You have to keep your e-pattern files to a minimum. But, how do you do that? The pictures are usually HUGE and the scanned sheets are usually HUGE. Even if you scan them in black & white. So, what do you do?

Well, you have to reduce the size of the pictures and scanned images either by adjusting the resolution, pixels or actual physical size of the image. There is no hard and fast formula for this. My results have been based upon trial and error.

Here's what I do for my pictures. First I use a picture program to crop and clean-up all your images. I have all of my pattern pictures saved on my computer as .jpg files of various sizes. I keep a master copy of the original picture in it's original HUGE size and then I use Adobe Photoshop or Microsoft Picture It! to reduce the size of my images down to whatever size I may need.

Most picture programs will allow you to reduce the size of your image either by resolution, pixels, or physical size. I prefer using pixels for most of my pattern pictures and inches for small pictures to display on the side of my blogs. I have found through trial and error that 300 to 350 pixels is a good size for most applications.

For example, let's say my original doll picture is 1276x1671 pixels and 453kb in size. I would reduce this picture to around 300 to 350 pixels, depending upon the picture I want, to say 284x371 pixels or 17.1kb for my E-Pattern cover picture. Just by doing this I've reduced the size of the picture from 453kb to 17.1kb without really destroying the quality of the picture.

For this same picture starting out at 1276x1671 pixels and 453kb if I'm going to send it to another website (say for a craft show booth) I'd probably keep the picture around 300-350 pixels, too. I would reduce this picture to around 300 to 350, depending upon the picture I want, to 284x371 pixels or 17.1kb for displaying on another website and to 137x180 pixels or 8.56kb for a 1 inch size picture.

If I'm sending the picture to another website for say, a home page display ad, they usually want a picture around 150 pixels. So, I'd reduce my original image down to 150x150 pixels or so and save it under another name.

If I want to show some of my product images on the sidebar of my blog then I'd reduce the pictures to about 1 inch. This equates to about 150 pixels. Might be a little more or a little less, depending on the picture. Adobe Photoshop allows you to reduce by pixels or by inch. For this application I prefer inch.

Each time I want to reduce the size of the picture I start with the original picture, reduce the size, and then save the reduced copy under a different name.

I'm always getting off track, aren't I? Back to the E-Patterns. If you're scanning in whole pages (i.e. 8 1/2 x 11 size) then you will need to cut the pixel size of your 8 1/2 x 11 inch picture in 1/2 or even 1/3 or your .pdf file will be way too big. My 8 1/2 x 11 inch scanned in b/w images that I use for my doll patterns pattern piece sheets and diagrams are usually 2529x3300 pixels and 1.0mb in file size(color images would be a lot more).

I always crop and clean-up my scanned b/w image first using a picture program and then reduce my b/w in half down to 1265x1650 pixels or less. This drastically reduces the size of the image down to around 250kb. Since you're going to insert this into whatever program is creating your .pdf file you want to start out with the least amount of file size as possible. Around 1265x1650 pixels would be the least amount you would want to reduce any images that were drawn by a heavy pencil and scanned in. If you go over your pencil drawn pattern piece sheets and diagrams with a black marker then you can reduce these in half again down to 633x825 pixels. I wouldn't go any lower than that or your .pdf E-Patterns will be hard to read.

Once you have everything reduced in size then you would want to import them into whatever software you are going to use to create your E-Pattern. I do everything in Microsoft Publisher so its easier for me to use that. I'm sure there are lots of software programs out there that would produce something similar.

Once I have my doll pattern completely in Publisher I compress the file which reduces the resolution of any of the pages to around 200 in resolution. This reduces the file size even further. Here is where the original quality of the scanned image comes into play. If the image is too light to start off then you will have a problem reading the E-Pattern or the image will be blurry. That is why a lot of hand-drawn sheets are traced over with a black marker.

I try to keep all of my E-Pattern between 500kb to 900kb. My largest E-Pattern is 22 pages but only 1.08mb in file size due to all of the above mentioned adjustments. My smallest E-Pattern is 8 pages and 437kb in file size.

The key to keeping the size of your E-Patterns down is to reduce the size of your images, diagrams and pattern sheets down to a manageable size. You can do this without destroying the quality of your picture or E-Pattern.

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