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Athabasca University e-Lab

Editing Digital Images Workshop: From 0 to 60


Welcome to the “Editing Digital Images Workshop: From 0 to 60” from the e-Lab at Athabasca University. This course will give you an introduction into how to edit images using the free online software, Photobucket. Photobucket can be found at photobucket.com.

Most computer operating systems come preloaded with some sort of image archiving and editing software. This is iPhoto for the Mac, but there are several comparable kinds of software programs available depending on what platform you are using. Their purpose is more archival than editorial, but they do include other features that allow you disseminate your photos in other media—including templates for greeting cards, calendars or onscreen slideshows. The main problem with these programs is that they are designed to help you correct a few basic problems in images (red eye, for instance), but do not contain a lot of functionality when it comes to issues like correcting exposure problems. Most people do not want to invest the time or funds into Photoshop to learn professional quality image editing, so for the rest of us there are in-between programs like Photobucket.

The third button is for ‘overlay’ layers. These highlight filters add additional effects to images to alter their atmosphere.

There are two main types of images: lossless and lossy compression images. Lossless is archival or print quality. Its resolution is constant and the images are huge, preserving all of the original data. Lossless include TIFF images and bitmaps (known as .bmp) and PNGs. Lossy compression images are small in size and low in resolution. Designed to be viewed on a screen, they discard much of the original data in order to load quickly.

You will most commonly encounter the TIFF format in scanned images and PNGs you will find as complex graphic designs that have been produced for the Web. JPGs are used for photos and GIFs for simple, single color images, clipart or cartoons.

There are three major Web image formats.

The first are GIFs. They are best for single colour or monochrome images or for clip art. Animated GIFs are particularly popular for producing simple animations. Animated GIFs are tiny images that compress a sequence of still images together producing a tiny stopmotion animation, as with this scene from Citizen Kane (above).

The second are JPGs and they form the vast majority of images on the Web. They are the format of photographic images, from low to high quality.


 The third form are PNGs. P.N.G., in this case, does not stand for Papua New Guinea, but for Portable Network Graphic. It is a high quality format most often used for interactive images in website designs or in info-graphics.



 Another side effect of lossy compression is ongoing loss of data. Every time you resave an image, you lose more of the information in the image. This is just one of many reasons why you should always work from a copy.

Pixelation doesn’t just happen with GIF images. Repeatedly saved or low quality JPGs also pixelate.

Large, lossless images (like Photoshop documents, called PSDs) may contain layers. You must flatten layers before saving in a lossy form appropriate to the Web.

You can upload images to Photobucket from a variety of sources (including your camera and an SD card reader). You can even download images from the Web to edit if you choose images that have Creative Commons Licensing. (I’ll discuss this in greater detail later).

Photobucket will let you make adjustments in colour, tone and exposure, make edits like cropping and red eye correction, add filters, and insert layers with text and stickers.

 First you will need to create a free account in Photobucket. Click ‘Sign up’ and enter your personal data, plus your username and password. You will be sent a confirmation email – to the email account that you provided them with – which you will need to click on to activate. Once you have done that you can start exploring the software.

Uploading your images to Photobucket is simple. You can ‘Drag and Drop’ or you can browse your files to upload one at a time.

It will only take you a few minutes to become skilled at using Photobucket to edit digital images.


The first class of editing options are found under the adjustment button on the lower right hand side of the interface. It gives you a wealth of editing options from teeth whitening to airbrushing to cropping to rotating to sharpening. Simply click on the button you want, theicons for the other options will drop away and then you can use your cursor like brush or a pencil. If you are working on a laptop with a touch pad, you might want to invest in a mouse, if you are editing images on a regular basis. The mouse will give you more control. You have ‘ undo’ and ‘redo’ buttons on the top right (if you don’t like the results). You can choose to save and replace the image. Or did I mention that you should always work from a copy? If later you decide you want to return to the original image. It will still be there.


The Effects button is the second from the left. It adds coloured filters to your image that emulate older styles of photography. This is similar to thevery popular iPhone app Hipstamatic, but without the costly monthly data plan.



The third button is for ‘overlay’ layers. These highlight filters add additional effects to images to alter their atmosphere.



The border options give your photos borders, including a film strip, ripped paper and rounded or square corners.


Button five is the Sticker option, and it lets you added themed items to your images from symbols to holiday themes to events. These might be best for making greeting cards or invitations.


The final button is the ‘text’ button. It lets you add textual layers to your images. The fonts are grouped under further subheadings, called ‘dotted’, ‘grunge’, ‘handwritten’, ‘novelty’, ‘retro’ and ‘sans’ [serif] and ‘serif’. Serifs are the ornamental detailing on older style fonts. Serifs are generally preferred for printed text. Sans serifs (sans means without in French) are the modern fonts and are plain and without ornament. San serifs are the preferred fonts for reading on the screen. If you want to know more about how to combine fonts in design, read Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book.

Where Do I Find Images?

What if there are photographs that you can’t take or images that you can’t make? When it is acceptable to use other people’s images. Welcome to the age of Creative Commons Licensing.


Creative Commons licensing allows you to use other people’s work that has been designated as acceptable use under certain conditions. The symbol for the license is written with two lower case letter c’s in a circle (as a riff on the copyright symbol). The most common license is that reuse for non-commerical purposes with no derivatives is acceptable, but the licensing is richly complex to allow multiple options. If you want to know more, watch the video called “Get Creative” on YouTube.

Behold (found at http://www.behold.com, as you see at the bottom of this image) is the search engine for Flickr. Flickr is an online photographic archiving site that is preferred by professional photographers. It is an excellent source, therefore, for high quality and artistic photographs— usually just the kind of images you would want to include in a Powerpoint. The Behold search engine will also allow you to select images which are free or that allow modification just by ticking off the check box in the interface.

Something to watch out for when you are searching for images is the fact that each different search engine will return different results. Sometimes very different results. Google, for instance, is great at photos, business and commercial images and personal photography. Other search engines may be better at current events photography or a particular industry’s results – so try several different search engines to locate images.

You can find free photos everywhere on the Web, but that does not mean that they are free to use. Creative Commons Licensed images are generally available free to use and only require attribution by giving a link or a name. Each Creative Commons image does come with a license that tells you the acceptable uses. They are not without copyright, but licensed for use without permission in certain instances. You can locate these kinds of images through the above links or just search for “Creative Commons Images” and other sources should pop up.


And, finally, Photobucket here are some other free image editing program available online. There is a free online version of Photoshop, but it is not the most popular because it is a memory hog and because the interface is unnecessarily complex.

So that’s it for photobucket. Have fun!

We would like to thank Zoomer Media for the funding for this workshop.