Using digital images in teaching and learning Editing images

Nicky Ransom Section name Visual Resource Centre School of Humanities Using digital images in teaching and learning Editing images Once an image h...
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Nicky Ransom

Section name

Visual Resource Centre School of Humanities

Using digital images in teaching and learning

Editing images Once an image has been scanned (or sourced through another means), you may want to make some adjustments to it to make it suitable for your intended use, such as cropping to get a particular detail, resizing to reduce the image to the right number of pixels, or adjusting its colour or contrast. This section looks at some of the software tools that you can use to edit your images, and provides links to a few of the many web-based tutorials on how to use them.

Can’t I just edit images in Word or PowerPoint? Yes, you can use the tools within Word or PowerPoint to resize or crop images (see ‘Using Images in Word’ or ‘Using Images in PowerPoint’ for more details), but it is sometimes better to use image editing software to create the right size image before inserting it into a document. Not only will you have a bit more control over how you edit an image, but you will potentially reduce the file size of your final document by using an image that is the right size and format for your use.

What software should I use to edit images? This will depend on how much editing you need to do. If you only need to perform relatively straightforward actions, such as resizing or cropping, go to the basic software page to find suggestions for easy to use software. If you need to perform more complicated editing functions, take a look at the packages listed on the advanced software page.

Basic software This section gives details of some basic image editing tools that are available. Some may already be on your computer as part of your operating system, and the others can be downloaded for free from the web. The programs listed have been chosen either because they are provided by a reputable company or they have been widely recommended within higher education. However, this list represents only a small selection of the many free image editing programs that are available on the web and you may find others that are equally suitable. Microsoft Office Picture Manager This is available on all University PCs as part of the Microsoft Office suite. As well as allowing you to browse images stored on your computer, it offers some basic image editing facilities, such as the ability to crop, rotate, and resize images, adjust brightness, contrast, colour, and perform red eye removal. In addition, you can convert images from one format to another and batch rename files. The following web tutorials explain the basics of using Picture Manager: ©University of Reading 2008

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 London School of Economics – IT Guide to Picture Manager:  Indiana State University – Microsoft Office Picture Manager:  University of Massachusettes Amhurst – Microsoft Office Picture Manager: Microsoft Photo Gallery Available either as standard on Windows Vista or as a download for Windows XP, Microsoft Photo Gallery (also called Windows Live Photo Gallery) is an image organisation tool that can also carry out basic image editing, allowing users to crop, resize images, as well as adjust them for colour and exposure. iPhoto This Mac-based image organisation software, included with more recent versions of the Mac OS X operating system, provides some basic image editing tools, including rotating and straightening images, cropping, resizing, adjusting colour, brightness and contrast, and sharpening images. Picasa ( Free to download from Google, this image organisation software also includes some basic image editing features, such as the ability to crop, straighten, and rotate images, adjust their colour, contrast, highlights and shadows, and apply red eye correction and other filters. A more detailed description of Picasa is given in ‘Managing Image Files’. Although Picasa is very easy to use, you may find it helpful to look at the guide on this page on the Concordia University web site ( Unfortunately, Picasa is not available for Macs at the time of writing. Irfanview ( Irfanview is another image editing tool that is free to download. It offers basic image editing functionality, including features such as resize, crop, rotate, straighten, colour and contrast adjustment, as well as the ability to rename or convert files, create panoramas by joining images together, and add text or other annotations to files. It can be downloaded free of charge for personal and educational use from. More details about Irfanview are given in ‘Managing Image Files’. A comprehensive tutorial can be found on the following web site: Picnik ( This free web-based software requires no download or registration to use: you simply go to the web site, click on the Get Started Now button, and upload a photo for editing. Picnik offers basic editing features, such as crop, resize, rotating and straightening, colour, contrast and exposure adjustment, and sharpening. You can also add text or graphics to an image, and then save the resulting image back to your computer in a variety of formats. In addition, there is a facility to link Picnik to a photo-sharing web site, such as Flickr or Photobucket so that you can easily edit photos that you have uploaded there. Two useful tutorials are:  

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Microsoft Image Resizer ( This is a useful tool for computers running Windows XP that will enable you to resize image files easily with just a mouse-click. Once downloaded, right-click an image (or group of images) and choose the required image size from a list of pre-defined sizes, or create a custom size. You can also select whether you want to overwrite your original image or create a new file. The Image Resizer can be downloaded from the Microsoft web site (, and a quick guide is also available ( x).

Advanced software Gimp ( Gimp is a freely distributed open source image editing program. It can perform many basic and advanced image manipulations and is a good (and free) alternative to expensive commercial packages, such as Adobe Photoshop. You can download it from the Gimp website, where there are versions available for both Windows and Mac users. There is an excellent guide to using Gimp for higher education users on the TASI web site, which describes some of the more common functions that you are likely to use: Adobe Photoshop ( This is one of the most popular image editing applications, but it is relatively expensive and may be more complex than you need. It is not provided as standard on university PCs, but it is available in the Main Library in [email protected] 105, the Multimedia Suite, and on PCs attached to scanners (in the main library, Bulmershe library, and Palmer Building room G05B). Educational discounts are available for staff purchasing Adobe products for use on University of Reading owned equipment by visiting the Adobe products page on the IT Services web site: Qualifying students can buy a student edition at a reduced price online – see the Adobe web site for further details. There are a lot of Photoshop tutorials online so you will need to search for one that suits your needs, but this one is a good starting point: There are also a lot of good books on the subject which you can buy or borrow from your local library, plus lots of video tutorials on YouTube. Adobe Photoshop Elements is a cut down version of the full Photoshop program that is much more reasonably priced, so this may be a good alternative. Most of the common image-editing functions are still available, just not to the same advanced level as the full Photoshop program. However, for the average user, Photoshop Elements offers all the functionality you will probably need. Again, educational discounts are available for University of Reading staff through the link given above – unfortunately, there are no discounts for students for this product. A couple of useful tutorials online include:  

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Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo X2 ( Another popular program that offers advanced image editing functionality but at a cheaper price than Adobe Photoshop. However, it is only available on the Windows platform so is not suitable for Mac users. Corel provide some tutorials for this product on their web site, or try searching for others on the web.

What facilities does the University provide for working with digital images? The following facilities are available within the University to help you work with digital images. In addition, your own department may have facilities that you can use, for example, staff and students in the School of Humanities have access to the scanning facilities provided by the Visual Resource Centre.

Scanners in the University If you don’t have access to your own scanner, the University has scanners that you can use to scan photographs or images from printed material which can be saved onto a memory stick to take away with you. Scanners are available at:  Main Library, Whiteknights  Palmer G05B, Whiteknights  Library, Bulmershe Court Your own department may also have scanning facilities that you can use.

Software on University computers All university computers are equipped with the following image-related software:  Microsoft Office Picture Manager – a basic image editing and image browsing package (to find it, click on the Start button, point your cursor at All Programs, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Tools, and then select Microsoft Office Picture Manager).  Microsoft Paint – a basic drawing package (to find it, click on the Start button, point your cursor at All Programs, Accessories, and then select Paint).

[email protected] (Main Library) Sail is located on the first floor of the main library and offers the following facilities for working with digital media: Multimedia suite – an open access suite for use by staff and students that has three workstations with the following digital production software:  Adobe Premiere Pro: a professional video editing package  Adobe Photoshop CS: digital image manipulation software  Adobe Encore DVD: professional DVD encoding software with Photoshop integration  Adobe Audition: audio editing software  Windows Moviemaker 2.0: basic video editing and stills capture software. Adobe Photoshop is also installed on the PCs in room 105 within [email protected] Multimedia equipment loan service – digital cameras, laptops and digital projectors as well as other multimedia equipment are available for loan to staff and students from the helpdesk in the main area of [email protected]

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ITS Media Services Media Production is a central support service for staff and students specialising in production of media components for teaching, learning, and research, including:

   

digital photography slide digitisation PowerPoint presentations image catalogues.

They can also provide assistance with video recording, editing and digitisation. Full details of their services and prices can be found on their web site or they can be contacted on extension 8771.

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